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Although the idea of idolatry has been present for a long time, I believe St. Paul is the first to use the term εἰδωλολατρία, e.g. Gal 5:20. (Corrections welcome!)

Two surprises come when we look at the Vulgate:

  1. εἰδωλολατρία is translated as "idolorum servitus" (Gal 5:20) or "idolorum cultura" (1 Cor 10:14)
  2. But: "idolatria" is used at least twice, to translate the Greek "κατείδωλον" (Acts 17:16) and "θεραφιν" (1 Sam 15:23, LXX) (which, I found out after some digging, is just a transliteration of Hebrew וּתְרָפִ֖ים (uterafim) = "household idol").

Although there are a lot of good questions that this cursory look bring up (many of which would probably find a better home at Biblical Hermeneutics), I will only ask one: Why was εἰδωλολατρία transcribed as idolatria rather than idololatria?

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The uncontracted "idololatria" is used by Tertullian, and by Jerome in his commentary on Isaiah (if we can trust the copyists and editors).

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0059%3Aentry%3Didololatria

"Idolatria" is common in Christian Latin (though it does not have an entry in L/S) and is continued by English “idolatry” and similar words in other modern languages. It is an example of haplology (as opposed to mere haplography).

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    I wonder if "haplogy" would be a more descriptive word than "haplology"... (+1 and apologies for the pun)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 19, 2017 at 0:27
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    @JoonasIlmavirta You might have to issue a hapology for that. You are approaching the hapogee of inconsiderateness!
    – ktm5124
    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:48
  • @fdb Great--"haplology" was the phenomenon I was looking for. Do you know how common this was for Greek->Latin words?
    – brianpck
    Jan 21, 2017 at 20:23
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    @brianpck. It is actually very rare. But see (Homer etc.) ἀμφιφορεύς > later ἀμφορεύς.
    – fdb
    Jan 21, 2017 at 21:53
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    @brianpck. Another (Latin/Romance) example is late Latin carnelevare > Old Italian carnelevale (assimilation) > Tuscan carnevale (haplology) > English etc. carnival. All the stages are really attested.
    – fdb
    Jan 30, 2017 at 23:06

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