Author Topic: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority  (Read 4383 times)

Ephestion

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I want to know what this word means, where it comes from and what each sylabel means. ex - ousia.

I know it means Authority or has become known to mean Authority but I would like a detailed analysis to see if it derived from ancient usage where it had a different meaning.

The way I see it is that ex- means emitting and ousia - value or worthiness. Please help thankyou in advance.
« Last Edit: 28 Nov, 2011, 16:34:43 by spiros »


billberg23

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Re: Εξουσια
« Reply #1 on: 18 Nov, 2011, 05:11:51 »
Good question, Ephestion.  To understand the derivation of ἐξουσία, we need to refer to the verb from which it is derived, ἕξεστι, which means "it is possible" or "it is permitted."  The prefix/preposition ἐξ by itself means "out of," and the verb ἐστι (basically, "is") refers to a state of being, so ἕξεστι points to something that derives from or out of a state or condition of being.  The noun formed from that verb, ἐξουσία, therefore expresses an essential resource —a "potential" (ability) or "permission" (licensed ability).  In translation, this basic meaning is then extended to meanings like "power," "authority," etc.  
« Last Edit: 19 Nov, 2011, 06:11:11 by billberg23 »
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Ephestion

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #2 on: 21 Nov, 2011, 19:19:32 »
Thank you for your help I am trying to read Romans 13.


billberg23

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #3 on: 21 Nov, 2011, 19:32:14 »
I am trying to read Romans 13.
As it happens, I've been working with the same astonishing chapter, wondering if the first part could really have been written by Paul himself, or by some imperial quisling.  Let us know if you have further questions or comments, and welcome to the Forum!
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Ephestion

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #4 on: 25 Nov, 2011, 18:56:59 »
What it says in Romans 13 fits in with what Jesus was saying. He was a pacifist, turn the other cheek, love not hate, give onto Caesar what is Caesar's etc. It makes sense that we should obey Authorities. But only so long as we do not sacrifice our faith, in otherwords to be martyrs rather than heroes. But I was wondering if Romans 13 meant obey those God gave Authority to like Moses, King David etc. or if he meant even Hitler or the Ottomans. Which is why I am searching for a way to figure out what is being said. In all the English translations they place the word Authority to mean Εξουσια. In modern Greek this is perhaps the best application of the word. But what did it mean in 100AD? You explained that it is derived from permitting but where does the ending ousia come from? Is it meaning worthiness like the emitter of worthiness or is it saying the "worthy permitted ones" or something like that. Because I think that makes a big difference to how the passage reads.

1. πασα ψυχη εξουσιαις υπερεχουσαις υποτασσεσθω ου γαρ εστιν εξουσια ει μη υπο θεου αι δε ουσαι εξουσιαι υπο του θεου τεταγμεναι εισιν
2. ωστε ο αντιτασσομενος τη εξουσια τη του θεου διαταγη ανθεστηκεν οι δε ανθεστηκοτες εαυτοις κριμα ληψονται
3. οι γαρ αρχοντες ουκ εισιν φοβος των αγαθων εργων αλλα των κακων θελεις δε μη φοβεισθαι την εξουσιαν το αγαθον ποιει και εξεις επαινον εξ αυτης
4. θεου γαρ διακονος εστιν σοι εις το αγαθον εαν δε το κακον ποιης φοβου ου γαρ εικη την μαχαιραν φορει θεου γαρ διακονος εστιν εκδικος εις οργην τω το κακον πρασσοντι

Το κολλήσανε οι αυτοκράτορες του Βυζαντίου η έχει άλλη μετάφραση?


billberg23

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #5 on: 25 Nov, 2011, 21:20:25 »
I was wondering if Romans 13 meant obey those God gave Authority to like Moses, King David etc. or if he meant even Hitler or the Ottomans.
That is indeed the $64 question for every person of conscience, Eph.  If you ever find the answer, please let us know immediately.
Quote
In modern Greek this is perhaps the best application of the word. But what did it mean in 100AD? You explained that it is derived from permitting but where does the ending ousia come from?
You'll notice that I made no mention of modern Greek, since this is the ancient Greek forum.  I probably should have explained the etymology of ἐξουσία more fully.  Oὐσία is not an "ending," but rather a noun meaning "being," formed from the participle of the verb "is" (ἐστι): masculine ἐ-ών, feminine ἐ-οῦσα, neuter ἐ-όν.*  In ancient Greek, ἐξουσία meant literally "a being possible/permitted."  It had absolutely nothing to do with value or worthiness.
Quote
Το κολλήσανε οι αυτοκράτορες του Βυζαντίου η έχει άλλη μετάφραση;
Who asks this, Eph.?  Sounds like another $64 question.  (-;

*Cf. Chantraine (Etymologie de la langue grecque) and all authoritative etymological sources, e.g. Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch s.v. Oὐσία: "Abstraktbildung auf -ία vom Partizip ὤν, οῦσα, ὄν."  
« Last Edit: 26 Nov, 2011, 22:41:06 by billberg23 »
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος


Ephestion

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #6 on: 27 Nov, 2011, 17:50:28 »
So then I entered your translation into the KJV version that text where ever the word power/exousia was used or replaced. And it reads like this:


1. Let every soul be subject unto the permitted being. For there is no being permitted but of God:  the permitted beings that exist are ordained of God.
2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the permitted being,  resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the permitted being? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

It now means something completely different. Those that are permitted through God "For there is no being permitted but of (through) God. And the word for Ruler is used intentionally to differentiate in passage 3. There are rulers and there are permitted beings. Whereas before it read as if the Powers and Rulers were the same thing.

Do you think I am onto something or am I drivelling?


billberg23

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #7 on: 27 Nov, 2011, 18:21:55 »
I'm afraid you've misapprehended both the text and my literal translation, Ephestion.  I did not translate ἐξουσία as "a permitted being."  I translated it as "a being possible/permitted," i.e. "a (state/condition/process of) being possible/permitted" — in other words, a potential or potency.
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Ephestion

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #8 on: 27 Nov, 2011, 18:28:00 »
Then your translation doesn't make sense at all.

1. Let every soul be subject unto the higher potential. For there is no potential but of God: the potential that be are ordained of God.

billberg23

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #9 on: 27 Nov, 2011, 19:09:16 »
Then your translation doesn't make sense at all.
O.K., then, try substituting potency with the sense of "power," and maybe you'll see what we're driving at.
« Last Edit: 27 Nov, 2011, 19:33:48 by billberg23 »
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Ephestion

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #10 on: 28 Nov, 2011, 01:50:29 »
There is no indication that word implies Power though. You say that Εξ is being derived from ἕξεστι but in passage 1 "γαρ εστιν εξουσια" the word εστιν implies an oxymoron if Εξ is to mean "Is".
Furthermore, ουσια is used in many ways that implies many things, But usually refers to something of substance. It can be used as in: You have lost the ουσια/substance of the message.

It is becoming apparent that the word could mean the transmission of another's wish upon us. The transmission or emission being derived from Εξ- and the wish or substance/ουσια of such entity being transferred. This is why it is given the meaning of Power or Authority in English and Modern Greek. In a democracy the εξουσια rests with the individual and does not imply a Power, Overlord or Ruler. The word can also mean "the right", "the authority" as in who gave you the εξουσια to talk like that to me?


 


billberg23

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #11 on: 28 Nov, 2011, 03:45:51 »
You say that Εξ is being derived from ἕξεστι.
Not at all.  I said that ἐξουσία (ἐξ+ουσία: "potential," "power") is derived from ἕξεστι (ἕξ+εστι: "it is possible/permissible").  "Power" (in its various senses) will always be an acceptable translation for ἐξουσία, whether in ancient or modern Greek.
I'm afraid you continue to bark up the wrong tree, Ephestion, and I see that we're not going to be able to dissuade you.  We wish you, however, good luck, enlightenment, and enjoyment — and welcome, by the way, to the Forum!   
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Ephestion

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Re: Ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #12 on: 28 Nov, 2011, 16:30:11 »
I am investigating the matter but I will get back to you over the next few days. It is not a case of you persuading me but rather getting to the meaning of the word.

Myron Shank

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #13 on: 03 Aug, 2014, 20:01:20 »
I hope that someone is still monitoring this thread. I, too, have been trying to get a better understanding of ἐξουσία.

I was unable to find ἐξουσία in Le Chantraine's le grand Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque, nor could I identify any Greek words in the online edition of von Hjalmar Frisk's Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, but Strong, Thayer, and Liddell and Scott all give the same explanation as billberg23: ἐξουσία=ἔξεστι (ἐκ + εἰμί).

Although I was unable to find any source supporting any other derivation, that one strikes me as odd for several reasons: (1) I have been unable to find any explanation for the claim that ἐξουσία is ἐκ + εἰμί. (2) I uncertain why εἰμί should become -ουσία; are the noun, ἐξουσία, and the related verb, ἐξουσιάζω, formed from the stem of the present participle? (3) Another word, ἔξειμι, is exactly what I would expect from ἐκ + εἰμί, but it is not used with this meaning. (4) It seems unusual that, if ἕξεστι is an impersonal form from ἔξειμι, it should have a completely completely different meaning than ἔξειμι (I go out). (5) ἐξουσία looks like it "should" be ἐκ + οὐσία. (6) An ἐκ + οὐσία derivation seems to fit the use of ἐξουσία better than ἐκ + εἰμί. (7) It seems to me that ἐκ + οὐσία helps to explain the examples where ἐξουσία is used in place of ἕξεστι, at least in the New Testament.

It appears that the central sense of οὐσία may be "property," or "that which pertains to or belongs to a person." If that is the case, what would naturally come "out of," or "be derived from," such "property" (using that word as a short-hand for the broader concept)? Would it not be rights, authority, or jurisdiction over that "property?" Importantly, the authority would not be arbitrary or based merely upon might, but upon the relationship to that "property." If so, might not one then be justified in interpreting ἐξουσία as approximately equivalent to "ownership," "rights over," or "mastery" (in the sense of the relationship between a "master" and the "servant" who is the "property" of that "master")? This interpretation also fits with the related use of ἐξουσία, given by Liddell and Scott as "abundance of means, resources"--in other words, ability or power arising from that which one has or to which one has access (ἐκ + οὐσία?)--but it is hard for me to reconcile that meaning with ἐκ + εἰμί, unless that meaning either was a misunderstanding of ἐξουσία, based upon a folk etymology of ἐκ + οὐσία, or else ἐξουσία (ἐκ + οὐσία) existed as a homonym with ἐξουσία (ἐκ + εἰμί).

In Matthew 8:9 and Luke 7:8, the centurion explains his own ἐξουσία, by placing himself "under" the same hierarchy that encompasses his soldiers and his slave; this would make perfect sense, if he and his soldiers were "the property of," or "that which belonged or pertained to" (οὐσία) the emperor, just as the centurion's beloved slave was his "property" (οὐσία), and ἐξουσία derived from (was ἐκ from that οὐσία), but his explanation would seem much weaker, if ἐξουσία is ἐκ + εἰμί.

If ἐξουσία is interpreted as ἐκ + οὐσία, Romans 13:1 would be, in essence, based upon the principle endorsed by Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 22:19-21, Mark 12:16-17, and Luke 20:24-25. Indeed, in Romans 13:7, Paul concludes his argument with an apparent allusion to that very teaching by Jesus: ἀπόδοτε πᾶσιν τὰς ὀφειλάς, τῷ τὸν φόρον τὸν φόρον, τῷ τὸ τέλος τὸ τέλος, τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον, τῷ τὴν τιμὴν τὴν τιμήν. In contrast, this allusion loses much of its impact, if ἐξουσία is ἐκ + εἰμί: what point is there in an allusion to authority based upon "ownership" or "property rights," if the ἐξουσία of Romans 13:1 is based upon nothing more than mere hierarchy (as Matthew 8:9 and Luke 7:8 would imply, if ἐξουσία is ἐκ + εἰμί)?

In 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, the argument for a woman having a "casting around" the head (head-wrap), when she prayed or prophesied, was premised upon the headship of man, as based upon the woman having been "built out of" man, rather than the man "built out of" woman. This argument is taken directly from Genesis 2:23, right down to the "through" or "on behalf of" relationship. The obvious allusion to woman being "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh" (Genesis 2:23) implies that, since the woman is part of man's body, the woman "pertains to or belongs to" man in the same way that man's other body parts do (Paul seems to have interpreted that very concretely: οὕτως ὀφείλουσιν καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες ἀγαπᾶν τὰς ἑαυτῶν γυναῖκας ὡς τὰ ἑαυτῶν σώματα. ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα ἑαυτὸν ἀγαπᾷ. οὐδεὶς γάρ ποτε τὴν ἑαυτοῦ σάρκα ἐμίσησεν ἀλλὰ ἐκτρέφει καὶ θάλπει αὐτήν Ephesians 5:28-29 and ὑμεῖς οἱ καθ’ ἕνα, ἕκαστος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα οὕτως ἀγαπάτω ὡς ἑαυτόν Ephesians 5:33. As in Genesis 2:24, Paul also understood marriage as restoring the parts separated at creation into one body: ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν Ephesians 5:31.). Somehow, the creative relationship necessitates a wrap of the woman's head, while she is praying or prophesying, and the wrap serves as ἐξουσία "upon her head on account of the messengers." The connections between praying or prophesying, a head-wrap, ἐξουσία, and the messengers may not be clear to us, but, whatever the connection, it would make far more sense for Paul to have based his argument upon an ἐξουσία derived from woman's creation out of man's body parts, if ἐξουσία is ἐκ + οὐσία, than it would if it is ἐκ + εἰμί. While the underlying symbolism is obscure to us, in some way, the wrap that, when worn by a woman praying or prophesying, honored the head of woman (man) had the exact opposite effect upon the head of man (Jesus), when worn by a man praying or prophesying. Whatever the nature of this ἐξουσία that is based upon creative relationships, it persists, even though man and woman have very different relationships to each other "in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11-12), where both are body parts of Christ (καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ὅτι μέλη ἐσμὲν τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ Ephesians 5:29-30. Even though man and woman's parallel relationships within Christ give rise to new relationships between them, it seems that the new relationships as being in addition to, rather than instead of, the created ἐξουσία relationship, so that both sets of relationships exist simultaneously. The most straightforward explanation is that, just as the woman rejoins the man's body in marriage, both male and female believers become parts of Christ's body, as if brides in a marriage, so that ἐξουσία exists in two very different, but non-exclusive, relationships at the same time.).

Of course, the fact that the New Testament seems to make better sense with ἐξουσία as ἐκ + οὐσία than as ἐκ + εἰμί carries little weight, apart from suggesting that its authors might have understood and used it as ἐκ + οὐσία.

Ephestion, above, proposed the same etymology as I have, but interpreted it differently. I am not sure that the derivation would make any material difference to the question of whether or not evil rulers have ἐξουσία from God, but it seems clear that there are clear Biblical precepts and precedences supporting disobedience to, and even rebellion against, both religious and civil rulers. However these might be justified, it also seems clear that such cases are to be exceptions to the rule.

The arguments against ἐξουσία as ἔξεστι seem so obvious that it is inconceivable that they have been overlooked. There must be very good reasons for scholars to have reached such counterintuitive conclusions, but they have eluded me. The easiest, but least satisfying, course would be to simply accept the "authority" (ἐξουσία? ἔξεστι?) of noted scholars, without understanding their scholarship on the matter. Perhaps someone can shed more light upon this for me.

billberg23

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Re: ἐξουσία -> ability, power, permission, authority
« Reply #14 on: 03 Aug, 2014, 22:42:01 »
Thanks for your remarks, Dr. Shank, and welcome to the Forum!
Probably the first step we need to take is to abandon the notion that the noun οὐσία and the verb εἰμί are somehow unrelated to one other.  They are very much related.  Both are based on the Indoeuropean root *es, which in Greek, Sanskrit, and other Indoeuropean languages has the fundamental meaning of "being there," "being available," "being on hand."  This is how οὐσία comes to mean "what is there for one," i.e. something that is one's proprietary right.  The definitive article on the shades of meaning that develop when οὐσία is combined with various prefixes seems to be Nigel Collinge's in Glotta: Zeitschrift für griechische und lateinische Sprache 49 (1971) (in English, and mentioned by both Chantraine and Beekes).  Since I suspect you may have readier access to this article than I, I'd request that you have a look at it and share your views with us thereafter.
Meanwhile, I hope those more qualified than I in the field of linguistics may have additional remarks.
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος