Revelation 1:8, Alpha

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Wed Jan 8 12:40:31 EST 2003


>===== Original Message From David&Karen Beaulieu <DKKC at attbi.com> =====
>I have been studying Revelation 1:8 and looking specifically at the word
>"Alpha."  Interestingly, the OED traces the origin of the word to the
>Phoenician "aleph," which originally came from a heiroglyph of an ox's head.
>I have not seen this history elsewhere, and wondered if you had any further
>information regarding the origins and meaning of the word "alpha."  Does the
>heiroglyph pre-date the alphabetic letter itself (if that makes sense...)?

That would be the idea. And of course, the form of the Greek letter has 
changed quite a bit. I think I remember seeing a Web site one time that showed 
early pictograms morphing into letters, but I don't remember where now. Most 
writing systems seem in one way or another to have developed from early 
pictures. Over time, there was greater need to write quickly than to retain 
the pictorial quality, so the shapes are generally quite different.

>I
>didn't see a similar kind of history for the word "omega."

It's my understanding that omega just means "big O." (Mega, as in megabyte, 
vs. omicron--micro, pretty obvious.) Because Greek represents vowels with 
letters, whereas Phoenician and other West Semitic languages use only 
consonants, the names don't always line up. But it's probably easier to find 
the origins of letter names in Hebrew (same writing system as Phoenician).

Alpha     Alef     ox
Beta     Bet     house
etc.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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