From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Thu May 30 1996 - 17:06:42 EDT

Carl's note on etymology:

>Personally I am addicted both to etymology in the sense of
>word/root histories (including changes in word-meanings) and to
>morphological history of Greek that I probably exaggerate their worth and
>importance. I will say, however, that I think any limits that are imposed
>upon how one learns to read Greek and what one reads in Greek may turn out
>to be limitations upon one's ability to read ANY Greek of ANY period--the
>more dangerous one becomes as a Hellenist, the more capable one becomes at
>the same time--and vice versa!

I probably have less confidence in etymology in its narrowest sense than
Carl has. I agree that word histories tracing semantic changes are helpful.
I like to show students the words that develop from the stem *NEM-: NEMW,
NOMH, NOMOS (both custom/law and pasture) or from the stem *KOSM-: KOSMOS,
KOSMEW, etc. Or the many words formed of AGORA!

If students learn more of what Albert DeBrunner described in his
*Griechische Wortbildungslehre*--that is get some basic knowledge of the
sgnification of suffixes, infixes, and prefixes--and learn to distinguish
the elements of compound words, then the learning of Greek vocabulary
becomes much simpler--especially if students are made to learn the
principal parts of so-called irregular verbs.

It would be good for the rest of us on b-greek if Carl would supply us with
a good, up-to-date introductory bibliography of etymological dictionaries
of Greek and Latin [the two do have some affinities]. I for one would be
interested. Any chance, Carl? I don't know if Frisk or Boisacq are still
regarded as authoritative. What later works would you recommend?


Edgar M. Krentz Tel: 312-256-0752
Professor of New Testament FAX: 312-256-0782
1100 East 55th Street Home:312-947-8105
Chicago, IL 60615

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