Re: Paraclete

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Thu Nov 18 1999 - 07:45:35 EST

<x-flowed>To: Nigel Hanscamp,

<< Does anyone have a style guide reference (or a decent reason) why
authors and commentators use Paraclete (with a 'c') instead of Paraklete
(with a 'k') in reference to the Johannine figure of the farewell
discourses? >>

Gosh ... almost all English borrowings from Greek have been latinized since
at one time (almost) every literate person knew Latin. In addition, before
the 16th century, the bible of the Western church was the Latin Vulgate, in
which one finds the term "paracletus" (with a variant spelling of

Also, the first edition of the OED cites the 1582 Rheims translation (of
the Vulgate) as the first work which used the spelling "paraclete," which
reads: "But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my
name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind,
whatsoever I shall have said to you" (John 16:26 Rheims). It is interesting
to note that Tyndale, KJV, RV, ASV, RSV, and NRSV do not use the term
"paraclete" in their translations.

Also, a more normal Greek transliteration of PARAKLHTOS would be
"Parakletos" (with a long mark over the 'e').

Why does "paraclete" end in "e"? My guess (and I stress here the word
"guess") would be that it ends in "e" because the penultimate "e" needs to
be long. On the other hand, the "e" at the end of "parasite" (Latin:
"parasitus") derives from the French "parasite." But "The Oxford Dictionary
of English Etymology" suggests that the (Old) French for PARAKLHTOS is
"paraclet." And Skeat's "Etymological Dictionary" cites French influence
for "parasite" but not for "paraclete."

Also, one might note that the entry before the Rheims quotation in the OED1
is spelled "paraclit." And the 10th edition of the "Merriam-Webster's
Collegiate Dictionary" gives a Middle English spelling of "Paraclyte."

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)

"There was indeed a passing hope that the United States might shed the
dubious distinction of being, as someone quipped, the only nation in the
history of humanity 'to move directly from' barbarism to decadence 'without
an interval of civilization'" (Frederick W. Danker, "A Century of
Greco-Roman Philology," 185).

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