Why do etymology at all?
James S. Murray
jsmurray at execpc.com
Wed Jul 28 23:12:50 EDT 1999
"Jeffrey B. Gibson" wrote:
> 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?
I wonder if SPERMOLOGOS, translated in Acts 17:18 as "Babbler", might be an example.
Literally, it means "picking up seeds", referring to birds. Non literally, it means one
who makes a living picking up scraps, a gossip. Maybe one of the classical scholars on
the list knows if the meaning changed over time, or if it had this range of meanings
throughout the Classical and Hellenistic periods. I had to chuckle, though, when I
considered the Athenians commenting on Paul's eating habits. I understand birds eat a
multiple of their weight in food each day (but this was after he was let down in a
basket). Maybe it's getting too hot here.
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