The market-place was not only a place of trade; it was also a social centre, where people met, children played, and workers waited to be hired. In some places, the agora was used for religious disputations and judicial hearings. It is this judicial aspect that is uppermost in the word used in the Latin Vulgate Bible to translate agora, namely, ‘forum’; its related adjective, ‘forens’ (= ‘out of doors’) gives us our ‘forensic’ = ‘pertaining to judicial proceedings’ (‘forensic medicine’).
One of the verbs related to agora is agorazo, meaning ‘to buy in the market’. This meaning carried over into the New Testament, where it was extended to cover Christ’s purchase or ‘redemption’ of humanity at the cost of his blood. Thus, commercial language is at the heart of the account of Christ’s sacrifice.The compound agoraphobia (agora and phobia = ‘fear’) is the name for the psychiatric disorder consisting in a morbid fear of open spaces (the agora was out in the open).