Luke J. Wilson | 08th March 2021 |
For many people today, non-Christians and (low church) Christians alike, when they hear the word “Catholic”, certain images spring to mind: the Pope, the rosery, Catholic school, big old churches buildings, choirboys, maybe monks or statues of Mary even; and sadly more recently, sex abuse scandals.
But, generally speaking, all of these are actually aspects of Roman Catholicism — a particular branch of Christianity, and not what the word “catholic” truly means as we’ll see when examining how the early church used the word and what the original Greek word means.
The Greek word where we get the English word “catholic” from is καθολικός (katholikos) meaning “universal”, which comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning “on the whole”, “according to the whole” or “in general” (catholicus in Latin). In non-ecclesiastical use, it still retained its root meaning in English in some literature from the 1800s, though that usage has fallen out of common use in modern times.
The first Biblical reference to the word is found in Acts 9:31 when speaking about “the church throughout [all] Judea, Galilee, and Samaria…”. The words “throughout” and “all” are καθ (κατά) and ὅλης (ὅλος) respectively in Greek, which together come to form the word καθολικός.
The earliest historical use of the word, in the context of the Church, is found in one of the letters of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written around A.D. 107, where he writes:
Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
From here on we begin to see that the word “catholic” was used in reference to mean “orthodoxy” (the word “orthodox” means “right belief”) as opposed to the non-orthodox heretics who were then by definition not catholic as they were not ‘accordin...
Luke J. Wilson | 13th June 2016 |
A meme doing the rounds on the internet
You may not have come across the image above before, or the similar variants of it, but it pops up on social media groups every so often. The underlying argument is quite ridiculous, but there does seem to be a sub-culture with Christianity which promotes this as fact quite vigorously. Having seen this get shared at least three times on Facebook in the last month, I decided to add a new category to the blog: Apologetics.
In here will be articles for defence of the faith, though sadly this particular one needs to be against those who are already meant to be a part of the same faith! But many people seem to accept these memes as truth without any further research, so here’s my quick apologetic against Jesus being some pagan deity name for “Zeus”.
No, Jesus doesn't mean "hail Zeus"
The whole argument hinges on the sound of the suffix “sus” being similar to “Zeus” and is apparently also the Latin word for the Greek god’s name, and the “Je” meaning “Hail”, therefore Jesus means “Hail-Zeus”. The whole 'argument' shows a total lack of even very basic knowledge in ancient languages which can be found from multiple sources online. See the image to the right for a breakdown of the Greek words for "hail" and "Zeus".
Another, similarly blasphemous argument, goes further to say that “Je-Sus” is a compound word, and that it means “Earth Pig” because in Latin, “sus” means “pig” or “swine” and the “Je-” means earth in Greek. Whilst the Latin part is technically correct the whole argument is wrong. For a start, “Earth” in Greek is γῆ (Ge) – there is no “J” letter, and the Greek letter gamma doesn't transliterate into a "J" either.
Secondly, “Jesus” isn’t a compound word (two separate words to make one single word). It comes from a single Greek word Ιησούς. And lastly, you can’t prefix a Latin word with ancient Greek word and say it has some sen...