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From: "James Wynn" 
Subject: RE: (urth) War With The Ascians as a Proxy War?
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 13:38:36 -0500

Just to fill out the background material on pagan:

Henry Chadwick is the author of the Penguin-published "History of the Early
Church" (a book I thoroughly enjoyed-but I can't find my copy suddenly).
When I originally read HOTEC I was familiar with the etymology of pagan
which Andrew quoted. But I seem to remember that I was persuaded to
Chadwick's explanation because he insisted that the term goes back at least
to the early 3rd century, when Christianity was still a capitol offense. If
his dating is accurate, and the term was used by the military as he claimed
(and I chose to take his word for it) then it seemed unlikely that the term
was a snub to rustic "superstitions" since most prominent city-dwellers held
the same beliefs at the time.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying the discussions on this list. :)

Andrew Reeves wrote:
I'm going to throw in a bit of pedantry here.  The origin of "pagan"
came from "paganus" meaning "rube" or "rustic."  Since Christianity started
in the
cities, eventually, the term for country dweller came to be associated with
of those who still clung to the old rites.
Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:
I am not knowing from Henry Chadwick. Merriam-Webster's online
gives this for the etymology of Pagan:

     Middle English, from Late Latin paganus, from Latin,
     country dweller, from pagus country district; akin to
     Latin pangere to fix -- more at PACT

Under PACT, we find this:

     Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin pactum,
     from neuter of pactus, past participle of pacisci to
     agree, contract; akin to Old English fOn to seize, Latin
     pax peace, pangere to fix, fasten, Greek pEgnynai

So, wow: "pagan" turns out to be related to "peace." But,
more to the point, Andrew's "bit of pedantry" seems to be
pretty accurate.


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