Why do etymology at all?

Lawrence May maylg at earthlink.net
Thu Jul 29 09:59:17 EDT 1999

"James S. Murray" wrote:

> 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.
> Jim
> Jim Murray
> Racine, WI

Lawrence May wrote:
    I believe this is from Egyptian hyerglyphics.  The bird walking along the beach
choosing between food and sand (needed for the gizzard of fowls).  It seems
to me to express volition (choosing).  Spermalogos was the name the Greeks
gave to this hyerglyphic.
    In the greek language, it came to mean a seedy philospher.  That is one
who propounds a philosophy that comes from many different sources and
not a unified system of thought.  This was applied to Paul   Acts 17:18.

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