Why do etymology at all?

Jeffrey B. Gibson jgibson000 at mailhost.chi.ameritech.net
Tue Jul 27 17:18:54 EDT 1999

David McKay wrote:

> Carl Conrad said:
> > Personally, I think that the etymology of a word or root in Greek as well
> as what can be known of its earliest recorded usage is always fascinating
> and often illuminating regarding later usage, but I think that it can and
> has been readily  shown that etymology often enough is worthless as a key
> to usage of a word at a particular time and place and that contextual
> factors and information about contemporary usage of the word or root must
> be the primary indicator.
> Well said. I LOVE etymology, but do bear in mind the caveats above [or try
> to.]
> One etymological gem [for me] is Judas' moneybag, or GLWSSOKOMON, originally
> the wind player's tongue or reed bag.

I wonder whether--if for no other reason than to beat the Summer heat, but also as a
useful exercise in further illustration of the point Carl and David have been trying
to make--other B-Greeks might send in to the List other examples of words used in the
NT or other Hellenistic Literature whose meanings no longer (i.e., by the first
century CE) bear any resemblance to what they "originally" meant or what a literal
and wooden understanding of their etymology suggests they "should" mean?


Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626
e-mail jgibson000 at ameritech.net

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