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Headword: Οὐσία
Adler number: omicron,961
Translated headword: substance, being, essence, property
Vetting Status: high
We find the name and appellation οὐσία contained not at all in the Divine Scripture.[1] But the common custom has made use of the name for the possessions meaning what one has acquired, such as dwelling-places, beasts, and other materials. For they call these 'the substance of what has been acquired'; in virtue of this concept we call the one who has obtained these things 'wealthy' [πλούσιος ], meaning 'of much substance' [πολυούσιος ].[2] And a people which has more than enough [περιούσιος ], the one which has possessions [or, "is owned"].[3] Also, "Israel for his private possession;" meaning a piece of property and with regard to possession.[4] But the philosophical use is aware that the noun οὐσία is derived from the verb "to be" [εἶναι ], for it calls the existing thing itself "substance." For "being" [τὸ ὄν ] is the common name of all existing things. Now, this existing thing is divided into substance and accident. They define substance thus: substance is the common and indeterminate name that is borne equally by all the actual existences [ὑποστάσεις ] [which are classified] under it [i.e. under substance] and is predicated synonymously [of all of them]. Or [substance is that] which is said of the underlying actual existences and is appears equally in all of them; or the thing which is self-subsistent and does not require another thing to exist, that is to say, what exists in itself and does not have its existence in another thing, as what is accidental does. Therefore, the existence of what is without qualification is substance.
Greek Original:
Οὐσία: τῆς οὐσίας τὴν κλῆσιν καὶ τὴν προσηγορίαν οὐδόλως ἐμφερομένην εὑρίσκομεν ἐν τῇ θείᾳ γραφῇ. ἡ δὲ τῶν πολλῶν συνήθεια κέχρηται τῷ προσρήματι ἐπὶ τῶν σημαινομένων κτήσεων, ὧν τις κέκτηται, οἷον οἰκημάτων, βοσκημάτων καὶ λοιπῶν ὑλῶν. ταῦτα γὰρ οὐσίαν καλοῦσι τοῦ κεκτημένου: καθ' ἣν ἔννοιαν καὶ τὸν ταῦτα κεκτημένον πλούσιον καλοῦμεν: ἀντὶ τοῦ πολυούσιον. καί, περιούσιον λαόν, τὸν ἔγκτητον. καί, Ἰσραὴλ εἰς περιουσιασμὸν ἑαυτῷ: ἀντὶ τοῦ κτῆμα καὶ εἰς κτῆσιν. ἡ δὲ λογικὴ χρῆσις τὸ τῆς οὐσίας ὄνομα ἀπὸ τοῦ εἶναι ῥήματος οἶδε παρῆχθαι, αὐτὸ τὸ ὂν πρᾶγμα οὐσίαν καλοῦσα: τὸ γὰρ ὂν κοινὸν ὄνομά ἐστι πάντων τῶν ὄντων. τοῦτο οὖν τὸ ὂν τέμνεται εἰς οὐσίαν καὶ συμβεβηκός. ὁρίζονται δὲ τὴν οὐσίαν οὕτως: οὐσία ἐστὶν ὄνομα κοινὸν καὶ ἀόριστον, κατὰ πασῶν τῶν ὑπ' αὐτὴν ὑποστάσεων ὁμοτίμως φερόμενον καὶ συνωνύμως κατηγορούμενον: ἢ ἡ καθ' ὑποκειμένων ὑποστάσεων λεγομένη καὶ ἐν πάσαις αὐταῖς ὁμοτίμως θεωρουμένη: ἢ πρᾶγμα αὐθύπαρκτον μὴ δεόμενον ἑτέρου πρὸς ὕπαρξιν: ἤγουν τὸ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὂν καὶ μὴ ἐν ἑτέρῳ ἔχον τὴν ὕπαρξιν, ὡς τὸ συμβεβηκός. οὐσία οὖν ἐστιν ἡ ἁπλῶς τῶν ὄντων ὕπαρξις.
cf. John of Damascus, PG 94.564. For the headword in its concrete senses see also omicron 961, omicron 963, omicron 964.
[1] The word occurs only in the books of Tobit, 3 Maccabees, and the gospel of Luke, and only in the concrete sense.
[2] The adjective πλούσιος is in fact derived from the noun πλοῦτος 'wealth.'
[3] Or, 'special, peculiar people': Exodus 19.5 etc., Epistle to Titus 2.14.
[4] From Psalms 134:4 LXX: 'the Lord has chosen Jacob unto himself and Israel for his private possession' [περιουσιασμός , noted in LSJ s.v.]. See also pi 1228.
Keywords: Christianity; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; economics; philosophy; religion
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 11 October 2003@02:13:12.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (modified translation, added note and keyword) on 12 October 2003@01:28:14.
David Whitehead (added a note; cosmetics) on 12 October 2003@05:15:08.
David Whitehead (added x-refs) on 12 October 2003@06:38:26.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 12 October 2003@11:38:04.
David Whitehead (corrected my typo) on 12 October 2003@11:51:19.
Catharine Roth (augmented notes) on 13 October 2003@00:53:11.
Catharine Roth (modified the translation a little more) on 16 October 2003@00:36:51.
Catharine Roth (fixed my typo, set status) on 16 October 2003@00:39:08.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 4 December 2005@09:27:42.
David Whitehead on 2 August 2013@04:18:35.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 27 March 2015@23:44:12.
David Whitehead (coding) on 20 May 2016@06:29:40.


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