THE USE OF ECCLESIA IN THE SEPTUAGINT
I.DEFINITION OF TERMS.
A.The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.
B.This translation was made approximately 285-246 B.C. By 72 Jewish schololars living in Alexandria.
C.The notation (LXX) is used extensively in referring to this translation.
II.TESTIMONY OF SCHOLARS
A.In the Septuagint ekklesia is used about 100 times.
B.In the Hebrew (language of the O.T.) two words were used to refer to the gathering together of the people of Israel – ‘edhad and qahal.’
C.Of these two words Hort says, “Neither of the two Hebrew terms was strictly technical; both were at times applied to very different kinds of gatherings from the gatherings of the people, though qahal had always a human reference of some sort, gatherings of individual men or gatherings of nations. The two words were so far coincident in meaning that in many cases they might apparently be used indifferently; but in the first instance they were not strictly synonymous. ‘Edhah’ (derived from a root “y’dh used in the Niphal in the sense of gathering together, specially gathering together by appointment or agreement) is properly, when applied to israel, the society itself, formed by the children of Israel of their representative heads, whether assembled or not assembled. On the other hand qahal is properly their actual meeting together: hence we have a few times the phrase qehal ‘edhah the assembly of the congregation” (The Meaning of Ecclesia in the N.T., Overbey, p.12).
D.Vitringa says, “Synagogue always means an assembly gathered together, but not necessarily joined by any bond of union. Eclesia, Kahal, always denotes some multitude which constitutes a people bound among themselves by law and obligation” (Pillars of Orthodoxy, Bogard, p. 410)/
E.Dana says, “In it ekklesia was used to translate the Hebrew word quahal which means an assembly, convocation or congregation” (Overbey, Op, Cit.,p. 13).
F.Dana also says, “The Old Testament and Jewish literature nowhere use ekklesia where it may justly be construed as ‘spiritual Israel’” (Op, Cit.).
G.Carrol says, “By an inductive study of all the ecclesia passages, you will see for yourselves that in the Septuagint it never means ‘all Israel whether assembled or unassembled, but that in every instance it means a gathering together, as assembly” (Ecclesia-the Church, Carroll, p. 44).
A.Because of the fact that the Hebrew word “quahal” sometimes means the whole Israelitish people and is sometimes translated by ekklesia, it has been mistakenly concluded that ‘ekklesia’ must have the same breadth of meaning as ‘quahal’.
B.Ecclesia never translates ‘edhah, the broad term.
C.Carroll says, “The testimony here is univocal. It is as solis as the Macedonian phalanx.” (Ibid, p. 52).