Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: κυκλος

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/k/k-u-k-l-o-sfin.html


Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The familiar noun κυκλος (kuklos) means circle. Like the Latin noun cyclus and our English words circle, circus and cycle, this Greek noun κυκλος (kuklos) stems from the Proto-Indo-European word "kwekwlos", circle or wheel, which in turn deploys a duplicative form derived from the root "kwel-", to turn or rotate. The formation of our noun κυκλος (kuklos) may have been helped along by its proximity to the noun κιρκος (kirkos), ring, from the PIE root "(s)ker-", to turn or cut off. Note that the sound-alike word church, or kirk, is formally of unclear origin, is thought to have to do with κυριος (kurios), lord, but may very well, and much more fittingly, mean ring or circle.

Interestingly, the Hebrew verb for to roll is גלל (galal; hence the name Galilee), of which the reduplicating derivative גלגל (galgal) means wheel (hence the name Gilgal). The noun גלגלת (gulgoleth) means skull or head (hence the name Golgotha), whereas the word for face, namely פנים (panim) derives from the verb פנה (pana), meaning to turn (hence the names Penuel and Peniel).

The familiar word κυκλωψ (kuklops) or cyclops, describes the mythical monster from Greek mythology, and consists of our noun κυκλος (kuklos) plus the word ωψ (ops), meaning eye. It means round-eye, and is possibly descriptive of a government by tribal council (rather than a single king), which was the precursor of the later so celebrated republic (and of course the inspirational ideal of a certain Klan; see our article on Publius). But this word certainly also reminds (and may even have been primarily formed from) the verb κλεπτω (klepto), to steal, and mean cattle-thief, which would explain why Odysseus and other heroic bringers of civilization were bent on destroying this race.

The image of the circle has been known since deep antiquity and has always been associated with the cycles of the heavenly bodies. These same cycles were venerated by natural societies, which in turn were held in their mesmerizing throes, until the Jews invented the Sabbath and forced mankind to switch to the abstract, non-natural, week-based calendars that taught us to "number our days and bring the heart to wisdom" (Psalm 90:12), that ultimately liberated us from the natural cycles, and set us on the road to freedom from the bonds of nature all together (Luke 4:18, Galatians 5:1; see our article on ελευθερια, eleutheria, or freedom-by-law).

The circle has since become the symbol of mathematical precision, which created a whole new kind of bondage, until in the early 20th century, Kurt Gödel postulated the Incompleteness Theorem, and Max Planck postulated the quantum, which restored fuzziness and thus freedom as fundamental principle of nature.

The number pi (3.14159...) is defined as the ratio between the circumference and diameter of any circle, but if we were to express pi in such large units of length so as to make our number pi express the width of the universe, even then the decimals would quickly begin to describe details the size of atoms, after which the Planck length kicks in and our number becomes "not even wrong" but wholly ludicrous and without meaning. Pi is the most famous ratio of them all, but in the 1760s, Johann Heinrich Lambert proved that pi is not rational, meaning that pi, the proverbial ratio, is not a ratio but a parody and a farce. In recent years, pi has subsequently come to symbolize quixotic madness and bondage; the existential antithesis of the freedom that governs reality, and which Christ, and the Body of Christ, embodies. Or said more succinct: Christ is the Word, Antichrist is the Number (also see our article on the Number of the Beast, 666).

Apart from an adverbially used dative (see below), our noun κυκλος (kuklos), circle, is not used independently in the New Testament, but shows up in the following derivations:

  • Together with the suffix of origin -θεν (-then), meaning from: the adverb κυκλοθεν (kuklothen), meaning from all around. This word occurs in Revelation 4:3, 4:4 and 4:8 only, where it is commonly understood to describe a static assembly of colors and praising beings around the throne of God. More befitting our word, however, is to regard the colors and beings engaged in a continued dynamic economy, whose realm ranges throughout the cosmos, but whose activities and characters are eternally centered upon the Oneness of All Things (see for a closer look at this our article on the verb πασχω, pascho, to experience). Their perpetual singing "Holy, holy, holy" may, likewise, be an abstract rendering of their much more complex and dynamic activities — perhaps comparable with the monotonous and seemingly singular sound and bulges of water flowing by boulders in a river, which in fact represents a mind-boggling complex interaction of water molecules that are technically all free to do whatever they like, and only end up forming the never-ending scene by merit of a perpetual statistic likelihood.
  • The verb κυκλοω (kukloo), meaning to encircle. This verb is used 5 times, see full concordance, and from it derives:
    • Together with the preposition περι (peri), meaning around or about: the verb περικυκλοω (perikukloo), to wholly encompass (Luke 19:43 only).
  • The noun κυκλω (kuklo), which is really the same word as our parent noun κυκλος (kuklos), but the singular masculine dative case of it, used adverbially: circle-wise or circularly. This noun is used 8 times; see full concordance.

The verb κυλιο (kulio) means to roll, and although intuition may link it to the previous, it's actually a late version of a verb κυλινδω (kulindo). Where this original verb comes from is no longer clear (it's perhaps connected to κωλον, kolon, hence the name Colossae), but the later version reminds of (and may have been helped into existence by) the Semitic verb חול (hul), which means to whirl. This is not unthinkable since the Greek alphabet derived from the Semitic one, and was introduced into the Greek language basin along with some key phrases of Semitic information technology. Here at Abarim Publications we propose that the name Helen (of Troy fame) may derive from this same verb חול (hul); see our article on the name Hellas for the details.

Our verb κυλιο (kulio) occurs in Mark 9:20 only, but from it, or its original κυλινδω (kulindo), derive:

  • Together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from: the verb αποκυλινδω (apokulindo), to roll from. In the New Testament this verb is used solely to describe how the stone was rolled from Jesus' grave. It's used 4 times; see full concordance.
  • The noun κυλισμα (kulisma), which describes an agent, place or act of rolling (2 Peter 2:22 only).
  • Together with the prefix προς (pros), which describes a motion toward: the verb προσκυλιω (proskulio), meaning to roll toward, to roll something toward or onto something else. This verb is used in Matthew 27:60 and Mark 15:46 only, both times to describe the rolling of a stone onto the mouth the sepulcher of Jesus.

The adjective κυλλος (kullos) means bent, crooked or deformed (mostly of body parts), and is probably in some way or form connected to the verb κυλιο (kulio) we discuss above (and also reminds of the equivalent Hebrew verb לוז, luz, to turn aside of away, and thus the names Luz and Lud). In the New Testament, this verb is used only to describe maimed limbs. It's used 4 times; see full concordance.