From: Carl W. Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Sep 04 1998 - 19:18:57 EDT
At 6:51 PM -0500 9/04/98, Cindy Smith wrote:
>Acts 14:12 EKALOUN TE TON BARNABAN DIA, TON DE PAULON hERMHN, EPEIDH
>AUTOS HN hO HGOUMENOS TOU LOGOU.
>What is the relationship between Zeus and Theos in Greek? Both mean
>"god," do they not? I don't have a Greek dictionary with me, but is
>it possible that Zeus and Theos are the same word in different
>dialects, i.e., different pronunciations of the same word?
No; QEOS is a generic word for "god"--any god, and the word can be used
with a feminine article hH QEOS for a goddess. ZEUS, on the other hand is
the proper name (in the nominative) of the chief god of the Greek pantheon.
>Paul is called Hermes because he is the "chief speaker," according to
>the NRSV translation. However, this could be, "leader of the word."
>Hermes comes from a root meaning of either "speaker" or "translator"
>or "interpreter," I think. Am I correct?
No. hERMHS is first of all the name of the god of the inbetween realms.
Reconstructions of the religious history nowadays tend to trace Hermes back
to the "rock pile" or hERMA on the side of the road or especially at an
intersection. Each passerby will pick up a stone and toss it on the pile
for good luck. In time, but well before the Homeric poems, Hermes becomes a
deity of travelers and of conveyance whether of merchandise (Hermes is a
god of merchants) of souls from this world to the next (YUCOPOMPOS) or of
speech and thought from one party to another. It is in the function of
conveyance of ideas or communication that Hermes becomes the messenger of
the gods and the interpreter of a message. The verb hERMHNEUW, "interpret,"
derives originally from the god's name and refers to exercise of that
'Hermetic' function; from the verb comes the noun hERMHNEIA,
Paul is called Hermes
>perhaps because, as a Roman citizen and a Pharisee, he spoke Latin,
>Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Hence, they could be saying, "They called
>him Translator because he was the chief translator." I have no doubt
>the meaning here is the Greek god Hermes, I just think there's a play
>on words going on here. Luke, who is author of both the Gospel and
>Acts, uses the word logos in ways that seem to point to the divine
>Logos, though I could be mistaken. Examples:
> Luke 4:32 hOTI EN EXOUSIA HN hO LOGOS AUTOU
> because in authority was his word
> Luke 4:36 TIS hO LOGOS hOUTOS
> Luke 5:15 DIHRXETO DE MALLON hO LOGOS PERI AUTOU
> but more than ever went about the word about him
> Luke 7:17 KAI EXSHLQEN hO LOGOS OUTOS hOLH TH IOUDAIA PERI
> and this word spread into Judaea about him
> Luke 8:11 hO SPOROS ESTIN hO LOGOS TOU THEOU
> the seed is the word of God
>In 8:11, does Luke mean "word of God" to mean "scripture" or the divine
>Logos? In the same way, "leader of the word" in Acts 14:12 could refer to
>the divine Logos.
>Again, at the least, there may be a play on words (no pun intended in
>What do you think?
I think that the primary factors here are rather that the imposing figure
is identified with Zeus, the eloquent spokesman with Hermes. This is quite
in keeping with the traditional iconography and representation of Zeus and
Hermes in myth and narrative poetry.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
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