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

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Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

εζομαι  καθεζομαι

The verb εζομαι (hezomai) means to sit or be seated. It stems from the same PIE root "sed-" as does out English verb "to sit". In the classics this verb was only used for present and imperfect tenses and it and its derivatives alternate with ημαι (hemai) and its derivatives. Our verb is not used independently in the New Testament but together with the preposition κατα (kata), meaning down from, down upon it forms the verb καθεζομαι (kathezomai), meaning to sit down or be seated down, but with an emphasis on being stationary rather than being seated on a chair: the opposite of Mary who "sat" at home (John 11:20) was not Martha standing or lying down, but Martha on the move outside the house. The opposite of Jesus who "sat" in the temple (Matthew 26:55) was not Jesus standing but Jesus on the move, outside the Temple. Sitting emphasizes immobility and specialization in an economic and cognitive sense, and demonstrates a lack of flexibility, diversification and development. Sitting is what lame people do, and see our article on the proverbial duo the lame and the blind. Our verb καθεζομαι (kathezomai) is used 6 times in the New Testament, see full concordance

εδρα  καθεδρα

The noun εδρα (hedra) means seat (any sitting-place, chair, stool, bench), from the noun εδος (hedos), of similar meaning, from the verb εζομαι (hezomai), to sit, or rather to be seated (see above). Ubiquitous chairs as we know them today didn't exist in the old world. Ordinary houses didn't have chairs, and chairs were mostly things in which power and authority was seated (rather than the man in which this power was vested). Hence in the classics, our word was mostly used to describe concepts like the "seat" of honor or the seat of the gods (their temple), or it was used as synonym for θρονος (thronos), throne, again not merely a fancy chair but rather the "seat" of the ruling authority. Our word described a thing's proper place: the lodging where it properly and actively functioned, rather than the place where it passively rested. Still, as in English, our word could describe something that's "sitting" somewhere while it's expected to be moving, or the "sitting" session of a council.

Our noun εδρα (hedra) is not used independently in the New Testament, but is a central element of the following compounds:

  • Together with the preposition απο (apo), meaning from or out of: the noun αφεδρων (aphedron), commonly translated with privy or toilet (Matthew 15:17 and Mark 7:19 only). Comfortable toilets were invented many millennia ago; the Romans had their famous lavatrina, but our noun αφεδρων (aphedron) is pretty much non-existent in the classics, which demonstrates that latrines and toilets were not know by this word. Our word literally means out-seat (which brings to mind our English term out-house) but latrines in the Roman world were markedly social affairs, also because there was no shame or modesty attached to one's daily ablutions. That means that our word probably does not refer to the Greco-Roman latrine but rather to the Hebrew one, which indeed emphasized the wisdom of separating oneself from one's excrement. This was understood to be so important to the health of society, that the instructions on how to build a latrine (outside the camp, and bring a shovel) were offered as part of the Laws of Acceptance into the Assembly of God (Deuteronomy 23:10-13). The theme of proper removal of wastes (i.e. sins) runs like a scarlet thread through the Bible and of course culminates in the crucifixion of Christ at the "place of waste" (Hebrews 13:12-13).
  • The adjective εδραιος (hedraios), meaning seated or settled: fixed in its proper place ready for action (1 Corinthians 7:37, 15:58 and Colossians 1:23 only).
  • Together with the common preposition εν (en), meaning in: the noun ενεδρα (enedra), literally meaning in-seat but used to describe a lying in wait or ambush, either literally, in a bush, or figuratively in trickery statements (Acts 25:3 only). From this noun comes:
    • The verb ενεδρευω (enedreuo), meaning to lie in wait, to ambush (Luke 11:54 and Acts 23:21 only).
    • The noun ενεδρον (enedron), also meaning ambush (Acts 23:16 only). This word is the masculine version of the feminine ενεδρα (enedra). Why the author chose to go with the masculine version is not explained, but in the Greek classics our masculine version is used rather in the sense of hindrance or obstruction, and a comparable noun, namely ενεδροσ (enedros), was used to mean inmate.
  • Related to the verb καθεζομαι (kathezomai), to sit down (see above), the noun καθεδρα (kathedra), meaning seat (Matthew 21:12, 23:2 and Mark 11:15 only). In the classics this word could describe any kind of seat, but as we discuss above, ordinary people would normally not sit on a chair. Chairs were reserved for rulers (solitary ones or councils in synagogues), scholars and teachers. Still, this word could be used to describe any sort of place where someone was sitting, or even in general describe a position of inactivity, and so was used to indicate idleness but also immobility in economic and cognitive senses (i.e. sticking to one's native convictions rather than learning and growing).
    This word in the context of the dove-sellers whom Jesus removed from the Temple court probably not so much describes actual stools for the merchants to sit on, but rather their paradoxical office. The Temple was all about learning and growing and being alive, and Israel's sacrifices had a learning curve as bottom line. Irrespective of what the sacrifice of doves was supposed to teach (but see Song of Solomon 1:15), doves were for poor people to offer (Leviticus 5:7), and offering them for sale defeated the purpose and perverted the entire exercise. In other words: templar dove-sellers are like modern bumper-sticker evangelists; people who teach that salvation comes from an esoteric spell, and enlightenment from a quick reminder that "Jesus loves you", while in fact Jesus embodies the Word, who in turn covers the whole of created reality plus the nature of the Creator. When we are religious and cling to our SOFs, we are on the Temple's outer court (the court of the gentiles), and nowhere near the actual sanctuary. When we find our way to the inner court, and we "enter" the Body of Christ, we "enter" a lifelong adventure of learning and growing.
    Our noun καθεδρα (kathedra) was adopted into Latin and endowed with the same suffix that made animal (breather) from anima (breath) and pedalis (a foot-long length) from pedes (feet): cathedral, place of the seat; not a place where there are chairs (when cathedrals got their name, people stood in them), but rather a place from which no further development was thought to be necessary. The word Cathedral expresses the same idea as the word Orthodoxy (i.e. right opinion or One And Only True Faith), and although not all denominations call themselves orthodox and gather in cathedrals, any group that professes to have a lease on the One and Only True Faith from which no further growth is possible, is lame (and blind probably too). From our noun καθεδρα (kathedra) in turn comes:
    • Together with the adjective πρωτος (protos), meaning first: the noun πρωτοκαθεδρια (protokathedria), meaning the chief-seat. This word appears to have been invented by the authors of the gospels (it does not occur elsewhere), obviously also to protest the very invention of ranks in what was supposed to be a perfect Republic of equals (Exodus 19:6, Romans 8:17, 1 Corinthians 3:9). Part of the objective of the gospels was to contemplate the nature of the Republic and why the Roman (and Greek, Phoenician and Celtic) versions of it ultimately succumbed to civil war, invasion and ultimately the Empire (Matthew 4:9). The Greeks revered ελευθερια (eleutheria), or freedom-by-law, as the democratic ideal, and that was secured first by the unity of the community (Ephesians 4:3, Philippians 2:1-4) but secondly by the desire of every member to relinquish any form of control (1 Corinthians 15:24). The very entertainment of such a thing as a chief seat is the beginning of the corrosion of the Republic. Our noun occurs 4 times; see full concordance
  • Together with the preposition προ (pro), meaning before: the verb προσεδρευω (prosedreuo), literally "to be before the seated", or to attend the one who is seated, whether literally or figuratively (1 Corinthians 9:13 only). Already in the classics, this word was used to describe general servitude or attendance of some higher-upper, particularly of a clerk at the court. This word was even used to describe the siege of a city. Noun προσεδρια (prosedria) described an instance of the verb and could meant siege or blockade, or it could describe a vigilance or close attention to some goings on. Adjective προσεδρος (prosedros) means assiduous or very attentive (to anything).
  • Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the adjective συνεδρος (sunedros), literally meaning jointly-seated. This adjective could describe birds huddled together, but more commonly described men seated in a council or assembly. This adjective used substantially described a member of a council. This adjective isn't used in the New Testament, but from it derives:
    • The familiar noun συνεδριον (sunedrion), literally meaning a joint-sitting: a council or assembly (comparable with the noun συναγωγη, sunagoge, place of joint-leading, and εκκλεσια, ekklesia, assembly or the called-out). From this noun comes the familiar name Sanhedrin, which was both the formal term for the central council of the Jewish state, and that of smaller, local councils. It's used 22 times; see full concordance.