My word this week is apostatised. I found it in Color Me English by Caryl Phillips in the essay titled “Shusaku Endo: Confessions of a True Believer.” It’s on page 210, describing the novel Silence by Japanese author, Shusaku Endo:
The novel centres on Rodrigues, a young Jesuit evangelist who travels to seventeenth-century Japan from Portugal in order to discover why his mentor has apostatised rather than suffer martyrdom. p. 210
According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, apostatize (I’m guessing the version without the z is a British spelling) means to commit apostasy. The definition of apostasy that seems to fit is “renunciation of a religious faith.” Later in the story of the Silence, the young Jesuit finds himself also going against his own beliefs, trampling an image of Christ in order to prevent Japanese converts from being tortured. According to Phillips, the missionary “decided that, in this instance, martyrdom would be unacceptably selfish.”
Edited to add: Commenters are curious about any relation to the word apostle, so I accessed the on-line Oxford English Dictionary through my library. It looks like they aren’t as similar as they seem. Both Greek words, but apostle comes from a word meaning messenger and apostasy from a word meaning withdraw. At least, that’s how I’m interpreting it. If anyone is good with Greek, I’d love to get someone else’s opinion.
Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”