Re: What is "KURIAKOS"?

Date: Sun May 23 1999 - 23:26:23 EDT

Ben Crick wrote:
> The "church" is defined as hH KURIAKH EKKLHSIA, from Hebrew Q:HaL-YHWH;
> modern Hebrew Q:HiLaT-HaMMa$iYaCh. The English took their word Church
> from KURIAKH, whereas the French took their word Eglise from EKKLHSIA,
> Latin ecclesia.

That wouldn't be quite correct. As I mentioned the other day, our
word church derives from the greek word kyriakon, which is a name for
the church building in Greek even to this day. The following note may
be found in John Ayto's useful "Dictionary of Word Origins" (Arcade:
New York, 1990):

--*church* [OE] Etymologically, a *church* is the 'Lord's house.' Its
ultimate source is Greek *kyrios*... The adjective derived from this
was *kyriakos*, whose use in the phrase 'house of the Lord' led to its
use as a noun, *kyriakon*. The medievlal Greek form, *kyrkon* 'house
of worship' was borrowed into West Germanic as *kirika, producing
eventually German *kirche* and English *church*. The Scots form *kirk*
comes from Old Norse *kirkja*, which in turn was borrowed from Old English.--

On a related usage, it's interesting that the KYPIAKH HMEPA-- our
"Sunday"-- originally referred to the "eighth" day of the week, not to
the Sabbath, as many suppose. Even today, in an uninterrupted usage
that persists from apostolic times, the word for Sunday in Greek is
"Kyriaki"; Saturday is still "Sabbaton"; and this usage is also
reflected in other languages as well (cf. French, Spanish, Italian,
etc). For a scriptural reference to the eighth day, see Jn 20.26; for
kyriakh hmera, Rv 1.10. Below my signature I will post an excerpt
from a classic in liturgical history and theology, discussing this
topic in case anyone is interested. The excerpt is from Alexander
Schmemann, Introduction To Liturgical Theology (2d ed.; Faith Press/St
VladimirÔs Seminary: Crestwood, NY) pp. 60-67, 119-121.

Best regards and I hope this will be of interest to you!

John Burnett, MA (OT)

>From Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, Introduction To Liturgical
Theology (2d ed.; St VladimirÔs Seminary Press: Crestwood, NY) pp. 60-67:

Fr. Alexander writes of¸

Ěthe obvious link between the Eucharist and time expressed from the
very first days of the Church in the Christian celebration of the
LordÔs Day. This was the day of JesusÔ resurrection from the dead, His
manifestation of the new life, and this day became in the Church the
day of the Eucharist. For an understanding of the place of the ╬LordÔs
DayÔ in the liturgical life of the early Church it is important to
clarify its relationship to the Hebrew sabbath. Christian thought has
so ignored this relationship that the whole week has been simply
╬advanced,Ô and the day of resurrection (the first day of the week,
the prima sabbati) has gradually become another sabbath. All the Old
Testament prescriptions and definitions touching the seventh day were
little by little transferred to Sunday, and the seventh day has been
converted into a kind of ╬prototypeÔ of the Christian day of rest.
This displacement of the week became especially apparent when the
emperor Constantine gave the ╬day of the sunÔ [i.e., "sun-day"] an
official state sanction, and made it a generally obligatory day of
rest. But even before the end of the fourth century the memory still
lived in the mind of the Church of the original relationship of the
╬LordÔs DayÔ with the sabbath and the whole Old Testament week. It is
still possible to find evidence of this, although in a rather unclear
form, in our contemporary Ordo [i.e., in the pattern of the services
observed by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches].

For the early Church the LordÔs Day was not a substitute for the
sabbath; it was not (so to speak) its Christian equivalent. On the
contrary the real nature and significance of this new day was defined
in relation to the sabbath and to the concept of time connected with
it. The key position of the sabbath (and all its related
prescriptions) in the Old Testament law and Hebrew piety is well
known. From whatever source the weekly cycle of time may have been
acquired by Israel its religious interpretation and experience was
rooted in a specifically biblical theology of time. The Seventh Day,
the day of complete rest, is a commemoration of the creation of ╬the
world, a participation in the rest of God after creation. This rest
signifies and expresses the fullness, the completion, the ╬goodnessÔ
of the world, it is the eternal actualization of the word spoken about
the world by God from the beginning: ╬it is very good.Ô The sabbath
sanctions the whole natural life of the world unfolding through the
cycles of time, because it is the divinely instituted sign of the
correspondence of the world to GodÔs will and purpose. On this day the
Law prescribes joy: ╬thou shalt eat and drink and give thanks to Him
who created all things,Ô since ╬He who created all things honoured and
sanctified the sabbath day and commanded that it should be soÔ (2
Macc. 15:24). Faithfulness to the sabbath was bound up with the
ultimate mystical depths of the people of Israel, and only by
understanding it as something for which men were prepared to die is it
possible to comprehend the significance of the new day introduced by
the Church.
The appearance of this new day is rooted in the expectation of
salvation, in that striving toward the future and in those messianic
hopes which were just as characteristic of the theology of the Old
Covenant as the cult of the Law. If in the sabbath the Hebrew honours
the Creator of the universe and His perfect Law, he knows too that
within this world created by God hostile forces are rebelling against
Him, that this world is spoiled by sin. The Law has been broken, man
is sick, life is poisoned by sin. The time which is included in the
weekly cycle is not only the time of a blessed and God-pleasing life,
but also the time of a struggle between light and darkness, between
God and all that has rebelled against Him. This is the time of the
history of salvation which is founded in an eschatological
realization¸ the Day of the Messiah. And again, no matter what may
have been the original content and genesis of Hebrew Messianism and
the apocalypticism connected with it, the important thing for us is
that the time of the manifestation of Christianity coincided with the
ultimate limit of intensity of these expectations, with their growth
into a universal eschatological outlook. It was precisely in
connection with or as a result of this eschatology that there arose
the idea of the LordÔs Day, the day of Messianic fulfilment, as the
Eighth Day, ╬overcomingÔ the week and leading outside of its
boundaries. In the eschatological perspective of the struggle of God
with ╬the prince of this worldÔ and the expectation of the new aeon,
the week and its final unit¸ the sabbath¸ appear as signs of this
fallen world, of the old aeon, of that which must be overcome with the
advent of the LordÔs Day. The Eighth Day is the day beyond the limits
of the cycle outlined by the week and punctuated by the sabbath¸ this
is the first day of the New Aeon, the figure of the time of the
Messiah. ╬And I have also established the eighth day,Ô we read in the
book of Enoch, a characteristic example of late Hebrew apocalypticism,
╬that the eighth day be the first after my creation, that in the
beginning of the eighth (millennium) there be time without reckoning,
everlasting, without years, months, weeks, days or hours.Ô The concept
of the eighth day is connected with another idea characteristic of
Jewish apocalypticism: the cosmic week of seven thousand years. Each
week is thus a figure of all time, and all time, that is the whole of
╬this age,Ô is one week. So then the eighth day and the eighth
millennium are the beginning of the New Aeon not to be reckoned in
time. This eighth day (coming after and standing outside the week) is
also, therefore, the first day, the beginning of the world which has
been saved and restored.

Christ rose not on the sabbath, but on the first day of the week (mia
sabbaton). The sabbath was the day of His rest, His ╬en-sabbathmentÔ
in the tomb, the day which completed His task within the limits of the
╬old aeon.Ô But the new life, the life which had begun to ╬shine out
of the tomb,Ô began on the first day of the week. This was the first
day, the beginning of the risen life over which ╬death has no
dominion.Ô This day also became the day of the Eucharist as the
╬confession of His resurrection,Ô the day of the communication to the
Church of this risen life. And here it is quite remarkable that in
early Christianity, up to and including the time of Basil the Great,
this day was often called in fact ╬the eighth day.Ô This means that
the symbolism of Hebrew apocalypticism was adopted by Christians and
became one of the theological ╬keysÔ to their liturgical
consciousness. There is no need to dwell especially on theÔ first
epistle of Peter, in which there seems to be a hint of the
significance of the number eight (3:20-21). In the Gospel according to
John, undoubtedly the most ╬liturgicalÔ of all the Gospels, the risen
Christ appears after eight days (John 20:26). Later the ╬mysteryÔ of
the eighth day is explained by Christian authors in application to the
Eucharistic Day of the Lord, which points to a clear tradition. These
numerous texts on the eighth day have been collected by J. Danielou.
Their meaning is clear: Christ rose on the first day, i.e. on the day
of the beginning of creation, because He restores creation after sin.
But this day which concludes the history of salvation, the day of
victory over the forces of evil, is also the eighth day, since it is
the beginning of the New Aeon. ╬So the day which was first,Ô writes
St. Augustine, ╬will be also the eighth, so that the first life might
not be done away, but rather made eternal.Ô so And even more clearly
St. Basil the Great writes: ╬The LordÔs Day is great and glorious. The
Scripture knows this day without evening, having no other day, a day
without end; the psilmist called it the eighth day, since it is
outside of time measured in weeks. Whether you call it a day or an
age, it is all the same. If you call it an aeon, it is one, and not a
part of a whole...Ô. In this way the eighth day ╬is defined in
opposition to the week,Ô writes J. Danielou. ╬The week is related to
time. The eighth day is outside time. The week stands within the
sequence of days, the eighth day has nothing coming after it, it is
the ╬last one.Ô The week involves multiplicity; the eighth day is one.
. .Ô

In the Church this first-eighth day (the LordÔs Day: kyriake hemera)
is the day of the Eucharist. The early Christian tradition bears
uniform witness to this fact. The Eucharist has its day, Christians
gather together on a "statu die", on an established day (Pliny, Ep.
10.96). We know that the ╬Day of the SunÔ was not a holy day of rest
in either the Jewish or the Roman calendars. Nonetheless the Eucharist
"became so firmly connected with this day that nothing has ever been
able or will be able to undermine this connection.Ô But then this is
the whole point: though the Eucharist is celebrated on a statu die,
though it has its own day and thus reveals a connection with and is
set in the framework of time, still this day is not simply "one out of
many.Ô Everything that has been said above about the first and eighth
day shows that this connection of the Eucharist with time emphasizes
the eschatological nature of the Eucharist, the manifestation in it of
the LordÔs Day, the New Aeon. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the
Church. It is the parousia, the presence of the Risen and Glorified
Lord in the midst of ╬His own,Ô those who in Him constitute the Church
and are already ╬not of this worldÔ but partakers of the new life of
the New Aeon. The day of the Eucharist is the day of the
╬actualizationÔ or manifestation in time of the Day of the Lord as the
Kingdom of Christ. The early Church did not connect either the idea of
repose or the idea of a natural cycle of work and rest with the
Eucharistic Day of the Lord. Constantine established this connection
with his sanction of the Christian Sunday. For the Church the LordÔs
Day is the joyful day of the Kingdom. The LordÔs Day signifies for her
not the substitution of one form of reckoning time by another, the
replacement of Saturday by Sunday, but a break into the ╬New Aeon,Ô a
participation in a time that is by nature totally different.

In this connection of the Eucharist with the LordÔs Day, so well
supported by evidence from the liturgical tradition of the early
Church, we have therefore a confirmation of that eschatological
theology of timeĚ. The eschatology of the new Christian cult does not
mean the renunciation of time. There would have been no need for a
fixed day (statu die) in a ╬wholly world-renouncingÔ cult, it could be
celebrated on any day and at any hour. Nor does this eschatology
become related to time through the sanctification of one of the days
of the week, like the sabbath in the Old Testament law. The ╬LordÔs
DayÔ actualized in the Eucharist was not ╬one of the ordinary sequence
of days.Ô just as the Church herself while existing in ╬this worldÔ
manifests a life which is ╬not of this world,Ô so also the ╬LordÔs
Day,Ô while it is actualized within time on a given day, manifests
within this sequence that which is above time and belongs to another
aeon. Just as the Church though "not of this worldÔ is present in this
world for its salvation, so also the Sacrament of the LordÔs Day, the
Sacrament of the new aeon is joined with time in order that time
itself might become the time of the Church, the time of salvation. It
is precisely this fulfilment of time by the ╬Eschaton,Ô by that which
overcomes time and is above it and bears witness to its finitude and
limitedness, which constitutes the sanctification of time.

[Ibid., 119-121]:

There can be no doubt whatever about the existence of the weekly
cycle¸ the Eucharistic cycle of the Day of the Lord¸ in the earliest
layer of the liturgical tradition. ...[For a variety of reasons, i]t
can [also] hardly be doubted that the Judeo-Christian communities
continued to celebrate Saturday as a holy day, above all as a
commemoration of the Creation. The joining of this holy day with the
celebration of the Eucharist was probably not something which happened
at the very beginning, but it occurred naturally under the influence
of the view of the Eucharist itself as a festival, and was possibly a
reaction against the overly ╬JudaizedÔ Christians. An echo of this
view of the Saturday Eucharist can be found in one of the memorials of
the Ethiopian Church, a memorial from a later date, of course, and yet
in view of the century-old isolation of Abyssinian Christianity, one
which probably reflects a rather early tradition. In ╬The Confession
of Claudius, King of Ethiopia,Ô it is said: ╬We observe it (Saturday)
not as the Jews, who drink no water and kindle no fire on this day,
but we observe it by celebrating the LordÔs Supper and the feast of
love, as our fathers the Apostles commanded us and as it is prescribed
in the Didascalia. But we also observe it not as the festival
celebration of the first day (Sunday), which is a new day, of which
David spoke: "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be
glad in it." Ě.[This] early Christian theology of the weekĚ began to
pale after the ╬LordÔs DayÔ was ╬naturalizedÔ and returned into the
time of this world as a day of rest....

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:28 EDT