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Apologetics: Etymology and Meaning

If we look up the etymology of the word “Apologetics” (noun) we get:

“branch of theology which defends Christian belief,” 1733, from apologetic (which is attested from early 15c. as a noun meaning “formal defense”. 1https://www.etymonline.com/word/apologetics

Apologia comes from the root word ἀπολογέομαι (Eng. Transl. Apologeomai) (Strongs Greek 626): “to give an account of oneself, hence to defend.” 2Robert L. Thomas and general editor, New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: [including] Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries, ed. Th. D. (Nashville, Tenn.: Holman Bible Pub, 1981), page 626. The word, “Apologetic” (adjective) returns this etymological result:

1640s, “vindicatory, containing a defense,” from French apologétique, from Latin apologeticus, from Greek apologetikos “defensible,” from apologeisthai “speak in one’s defense,” from apologos “an account, story,” from apo “away from, off” (see apo-) + logos “speech,” from PIE root *leg- (1) “to collect, gather,” with derivatives meaning “to speak (to ‘pick out words’).” Meaning “regretfully acknowledging failure” is by 1836 (apologetic for himself). 3https://www.etymonline.com/word/apologetic?ref=etymonline_crossreference

From ἀπό (apo) + λόγῳ (logo) (from Strongs Greek 575 /apó, “from” and Strongs Greek 3056 /lógos, “intelligent reasoning”) = ἀπόλογος (apologos) -> ἀπολογοῦμαι (apologoumai) -> ἀπολογίαν (apologian) -> apologia -> apologetics. 4https://etymologeek.com/eng/apologetics Most Christians in explaining the meaning of the word “Apologetics” will derive their definition from the most go to passage in the Holy Scriptures on the topic, namely 1 Pet 3:15. and will accept its meaning put simply as “the defence of the Christian faith”.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer (απολογιαν, apologian, Strongs Greek 627) to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

(I Peter 3:15 [KJV])

The “word” is found in the Septuagint ( Jer. 12:1, 20:12 & 31:6) and used in the Greek New Testament alike (Luke 12:11, 21:14; Acts 19:33, 22:1, 24.10, 25:8, 16, 26:2, 24; Rom. 2:15; 1 Cor. 9:3; 2 Cor. 7:11, 12:19; Phil. 1:7, 17; 2 Tim. 4:16; 1 Pet. 3:15).

It is worth noting αναπολογητος, anapologetos (Strongs Greek 379) an adjective, derived from alpha (as a neg. prefix “not” and  Strongs Greek 626 /apologéomai, “to argue a case” therefore lacking any justified defence, or without excuse. (Rom. 1:20, 2:1).

“Apologia” was commonly used to denote a speech in a court of law where by persons would make their case, especially their case in defending themselves against various charges. Any such court defence would necessarily rely on giving reasons in support of a person’s position. That is, a defence in court would involve evidence of some kind as well as reasoning based on that evidence.5https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/apologia

Featured Image: Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

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