Re: Distinctions

From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Tue Feb 18 1997 - 16:56:11 EST

>Hi All,
>Such good material is being produced on AGAPE, perhaps someone could
>talk about the words for heresis and schism.
Let me add a brief note to what Carl Conrad wrote.

hAIRESIS from the stem *hAIRE- means a choice. In hellenistic Greek it came
to connote the choice one made among the possible philosophic schools. Thus
it was a hAIRESIS to become a Stoic or a Skeptik. Josephus picks up the
term to describe the so-called "sects" (i.e. choices) in Judaism: Pharisee,
Essene, etc. In post NT Christianity it was used of people who made a
choice that turned out not to be the "orthodox" position--and thus it came
to our modern definition of false, aberrant teaching.

SCISMA from the root *SCIS-. The verb SCIZW means to split, to divide. Thus
a SCISMA is what results from a splitting, a division, a cutting apart. It
can be used of a good thing (Jesus saw the heavens split at his baptism) or
a bad, as Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians.

Good question. LSJ and Lampe PGL would provice you with the data.
Incidentally, in response to the question about lexica that someone put
some time ago, the counterpart to the Oxford English Dictionary for Greek
is the MEFGA LEXIKON THS hELLHNIKHS GLWSSHS. It is not available
everywhere--my own seminary library does not own it. And the great lexicon
of Stephanus (edited anew in the 19th century, Greek to Latin) is also

Edgar Krentz, New Testament OR HOME:
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street
TEL.: 773-256-0752 FAX: 773-256-0782

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