What’s In A Name? Part Two
Ever wonder why certain Protestant denominations were given certain names, or what those names mean? How close did they come to being called something else? My post of September 22 discussed what terms various Protestants groups used for themselves (i.e. Huguenots preferred “Reformed”), but today I was interested in learning where the names that would become common originated from.
The word “Anglican” was not used (at least popularly) until the early 1600s. It comes from Middle Latin anglicanus and Anglicus, both of which mean “of the people of England.” “Angle” (Angle-land) is the word from which the word “England” came. It refers to the Angles, a Germanic tribe that occupied the country in the Dark Ages. The word “Anglican” used to describe a person who attended the Church of England was said to originate in the late 1790s. Before this time followers would have likely been called Protestants or simply described as belonging to the Church of England.
The word “Lutheran,” used to describe an adherent to Martin Luther’s Protestant doctrines, was not preferred in Reformation-era Germany but became popular nonetheless. This term comes from the name Luther, which in turn is thought to derive from Lothar (German “Hluodhari”). Hluodhari carries the strong meaning of “famous warrior” and would have been considered a fine name for a German male.
The word “Anabaptist” has an origin that is easy to uncover. Since most “Brethren,” as they preferred to be called, had been baptized as babies, their belief in adult baptism meant that they had to be “rebaptized.” Their enemies called them “Anabaptists,” which came from the Latin anabaptista and anabaptimus and literally meant “second baptism.”
The word “Huguenot” has never been adequately fleshed out. Many believe it comes from Eidgenoss, the Swiss word for “confederate,” a member of the Swiss Confederation). Many Huguenots had fled to Geneva and at one point, due to its association with John Calvin, it was called the “Protestant Rome.”) Others believe it came from the personal names Hughes, as Hughes Besancon was a known leader of religious dissidents. I have heard that the word “Huguenot” was even considered an odd word in France, and no one was exactly sure where it came from and what it had originally meant.
In contrast, “Reformé,” “Reformed,” was much-preferred among French Protestants. The word “Reform” comes from Latin reformare, “reforming,” or literally “to form again.” One interesting etymology site I often use, www.etymonline.com, says that the term “Reform” as applied to the Huguenots is not thought to have come into use until the 1580s. If this is true, I wonder what the Huguenots called themselves from the 1530s through the 1570s . . .?
Some food for thought!
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved