Keep the Nomina Sacra in Xmas


When folks get cranky at me for abbreviating “Christmas” as “Xmas,” I just ask them if they’ve ever heard of the nomina sacra. Usually the answer is “no,” so I explain the potential purposes of nomina sacra in ancient manuscripts. It kinda freaks them out!

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  • UrbsDei21

    The problem with this is what it may be misunderstood as, by far more than the people you get to speak to about. To our culture, it means leaving Christ behind, though it is not. Isn’t it better to communicate dedication to Christ’s name than the likely-to-be-misunderstood abbreviation?

  • Jim

    X is not equal to Χ. Ξ is. Further, really, how many people know the Greek letter Χ and use it. Finally, the abbreviation for χριστος in the N.S. is χρ with the line above, never, to my recollection, is it simply χ.

    • Rick

      That the English letter X is sometimes transliterated as Greek Ξ is irrelevant here.

      Also, you’re wrong about the nomen sacrum for Χριστος; it is virtually never written as Χρ(ιστος), but more commonly as Χ(ριστο)ς or Χρ(ιστο)ς. Maybe you’re thinking of the chi-rho compendium.

      In any event, Mike’s point likely wasn’t that X was ever itself used as a nomen sacrum for Χριστος but that the system for contracting sacred names was very common.

      And, regarding the whole thing, I actually like to use Xmas and explain the irony in some people using it to avoid saying or spelling Christ since X could represent Χριστος.