Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Itacism in the Early Third Century Church

Only in Hippolytus and Epiphanius, the name "Elchasai"/"Elxai" begins with eta. In the other patristic Greek texts, the opening vowel is epsilon. The name of the sect is always (also in Epiphanius, see below) spelled with epsilon. This is noteworthy if we bear in mind that at the time the eta was commonly pronounced as i (itacism).[1] The difference under discussion is therefore more significant than the usual transcriptions in modern languages might suggest ... we may take it for granted that the eta-spelling of the name "Elchasai"/"Elxai" is attested by the earlier patristic reports (Hippolytus and Epiphanius; two independent witnesses, cf. above, pp. 174f), while the name-forms with epsilon occur in later sources.

[Gerard P. Luttikhuizen, the Revelation of Elchasai p. 180]

[1] Cf. F. Blass, A. Debrunner, F. Rehkopf, Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch, 15th ed. 1979, §24

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