What word or phrase would fit in best here?

She says that trepanation began to be practiced only in Europe during the Dark Ages because Pope once issued an edict saying that that kind of practice would help Christians get rid of their curse, but does she know that that medical practice existed in ancient China and in ancient Maya long before any Pope ____________ ?

  1. emerged

  2. came about

  3. existed

  4. appeared

  5. began to be

  6. ?

  • 1
    I would use existed, even though it does not explicitly refer to the beginning of the Papacy. BTW in the second line it should be the Pope.
    – Peter
    Jan 13 '21 at 13:54
  • Existed, definitely. For accentuating the cause, you can say, 'ever existed'. Jan 13 '21 at 13:56
  • 1
    I think this is entirely a matter of stylistic choices, which makes it Off Topic POB. For what it's worth, this writer wouldn't bother with any verb at all after long before any Pope, just as I wouldn't necessarily add an extra verb at the end of Dinosaurs existed long before people. Jan 13 '21 at 14:26
  • @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica - Why! How come I didn't think of that option! It looks like my problem is solved even easier that what I thought. Thank you.
    – brilliant
    Jan 13 '21 at 14:58
  • 1
    @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica - I see. Thank you very much for all the explanation!
    – brilliant
    Jan 13 '21 at 23:33

I'll comment on each, as they're different in sentiment:


This implies that a Pope existed, but was somehow hidden or covered. That isn't what you want.

came about

If something "comes about" it's normally a circumstance. For example: "A crisis came about in 1889..."


This would work, and is probably closest. But it's very direct, and perhaps not what you're trying to say with your sentence.


Similar to "emerged" it feels like the Pope existed in hiding, or wasn't well known.

began to be

This is odd, it sounds like a Pope's birth.

Some more suggestions:

long before any Pope was chosen

Redirect the focus to the act of actually selecting a Pope, rather than the person existing.

long before the [role of Pope/papacy] was created.

Perhaps consider talking about the role or position instead.

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