Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Proselyte

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(proselytos, stranger or newcomer; Vulgate, advena).

The English term "proselyte" occurs only in the New Testament where it signifies a convert to the Jewish religion (Matthew 23:15; Acts 2:11; 6:5; etc.), though the same Greek word is commonly used in the Septuagint to designate a foreign sojourner in Palestine. Thus the term seems to have passed from an original local and chiefly political sense, in which it was used as early as 300 B. C., to a technical and religious meaning in the Judaism of the New Testament epoch. Besides the proselytes in the strict sense who underwent the rite of circumcision and conformed to the precepts of the Jewish Law, there was another class often referred to in the Acts as "fearers of God" (Acts 10:2, 22; 13:16, 26), "worshippers of God" (Acts 16:14), "servers of God" (Acts 13:43; 17:4, 17). These were sympathetic adherents attracted by the Monotheism and higher ideals of the Jewish religion. St. Paul addressed himself especially to them in his missionary journeys, and from them he formed the beginning of many of his Churches.

James F. Driscoll.