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    1st October 2006

    More on circumcision (WARNING: Graphic descriptions of Greek words below!)

    Last week was a good week at school. And a good week at home. And a good week at Revolution. There are two highlights that I will share here: 1)Third Day Victory Church, of which the Sunday Revolution thing is a part, meets in a hotel – the Hilton on Prospect in Fort Collins. Last Sunday (not today) Amy Grant stayed at the hotel after a Saturday night concert so Sarah Beth, the daughter of Pastor Jeff (the music and worship pastor), went looking for her around the hotel. Jeff was listening in as she recounted how she actually knocked on the door of the Presidential Suite until someone answered – an elderly man and NOT Amy Grant. We were cracking up and Jeff laughed a little too. Sarah got this big smile and then Jeff said, “Oh, I’m laughing now – but just wait ’til we get home…” with this big smile on his face. Classic.

    Highlight number two is the reason for the particular title of this post. On Wednesday evening I have a Greek class which is more or less remedial for me, so sometimes the prof will defer some questions to me. One of the students asked about why the New Testament Greek word for circumcision is peritome while the word for uncircumcision is akrobustia. In Greek, opposites or negations are usually made using the “alpha privitive”, which is just an alpha prefixed to a word. For example, nomos is a word for law while anomia means lawlessness; thanatos can be used to mean mortal while athanotos is immortal.

    A further piece of the question was that peritome is a rather graphic word – peri is a prefix which means around while tome refers to cutting (peritome was also apparently a type of cobblers knife). Why was akrobustia such a plain word? I thought I had an idea of where akrobustia came from and it’s own graphic nature, but I wasn’t confident enough to hazard a guess in class, so I told them I would find out and report back next week (which is this coming week). I also promised to do a little looking to find out how common the word euangellia – which means the good report or the gospel in New Testament times – how common this word was before the early Christian writers appropriated the word as their own.

    Let me tell you: My time with the lexicons did not dissappoint.

    Euangellia was quite well used during the time leading up to and throughout the life of Christ and work of the Apostles. It typically just meant something akin to glad tidings, which is what the angels said to the shepherds at the birth of Christ.

    And as for akrobustia – well I knew that the prefix akro means tip, top, or the highest part of something, as in the Acropolis, the highest part of Athens. But as for the other part of the word, I was clueless until I looked at the fat Liddell and Scott classical lexicon, which told me that it most likely came from the Hebrew word bosheth (or boshthe), which was a word pertaining to shame or shamefulness. It was also used as a substantive to refer to “shame/shameful parts”. So akrobustia is the top of the shame parts, which makes sense because it was the word used throughout Septuagint to refer to the foreskin.

    I was more or less giggling as I looked all this stuff up in the library at 9:30 in the evening. Probably the best half hour of last week.

    One last note on circumcision: I was reading the accounts of Jesus’ birth and childhood and we were supposed to look for ways in which the biblical Christmas stories differ from the way we think of and celebrate Christmas, when suddenly something jumped out at me. Jesus was circumcised on the 8th day like every good Jewish boy… If we celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th, why don’t we celebrate Jesus’ Circumcision Day on January 1st?


    2 Responses to “More on circumcision (WARNING: Graphic descriptions of Greek words below!)”

    1. Matt says:

      Haha! Foreskins!

    2. Matt Austin says:


      I was sitting around tonight rather bored, and a thought suddenly floated into my head “I wonder how that guy we were all praying for my senior year of college is doing these days?” So up comes google, I didnt even remember your name (sorry) so I searched the words Calvin College, thanksgiving, and accident (three of the details I did specifically remember) and up popped your site.

      I poked around your old site and glanced through your recent blogs, and decided I’d finally drop you a comment. I don’t know if you’ve grown tired of hearing this over the last two years, but your accident in november ’04 caused not only scores of thousands of people across the US to rise up in fervent prayer for you and your family, but also catalyzed a lot of introspection and, through your journey of healing and your Christ-given strength and spiritual vivacity thoughout, you were an inspiration. Your ordeal really hit home with me and my friends, because, in a lot of ways, we were just like you. My friends and I were all attending Northwestern College in iowa at the time, (other than NWC being an RCA school, and Calvin being CRC, I think the schools are virtually identical) and we had all just done multi-hour late night drives going home or to friend’s houses for thanksgiving ourselves.

      so what is the point of making this post, you say? I don’t know, i guess it’s just to thank you for your openness in sharing your trials and your life on this site- your recovery and, yes, i really do think your life in general, has been an inspiration to many. If you really are like me and my friends, then, no, you dont deserve to get nominated for sainthood, but I just feel led to let you know God is still using you to inspire others.

      And hey man, mad props on your little greek lesson there, you had me smiling through the whole thing. I took a two-semester run of Biblical Greek myself (substituted it for my Spanish requirement) at NWC, which was why I chose THIS particular post to reply to. It’s amazing how many words we still use today are rooted in the greek language. Someday after my MBA classes at California Baptist University (Take THAT Calvin! Ha!) are over I’d like to pick up a class or two in latin. Then I’d pretty much have the gamut covered. Ah! Gamut! Probably another word with greek roots!…okay I’ll leave you alone now, I sound like i’m nuts but I promise you i’m not more than only slightly crazy.


      Matt Austin
      II Tim 4:2

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    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.