Re: How to find the meaning of words (was: A question about tombs)

From: Jeffrey B. Gibson (
Date: Tue Apr 06 1999 - 20:28:36 EDT

Bill Ross wrote:


> * your methodology is somewhat impractical because one has to assume too
> much about our understanding (*interpretation*) of the *intended meaning* of
> various authors, which in the end can have words meaning just about
> anything! For example, someone on Corpus Paul made the absurd affirmation
> the "dying for another" was used by an author previous to Paul to mean some
> kind of social restoration or some other strained connotation, and therefore
> Paul's words have that "meaning." Donkey-dust. Words themselves have
> meaning, much or most of which is conveyed in their etymology and historic
> usage.

It was I who made the affirmation about the meaning of "dying for others" language in
Paul that you impugn here. So I feel I have the right to reply, even if this takes us
slightly off topic.

Since this phrase is well attested both before Paul and during his time in both
secular and biblical Greek as having the very meaning you seem incredulous about,
claiming that the meaning of the phrase might be as I saw it is hardly absurd. In
fact, the only thing absurd here is the fact that you ignore your own claim that
historic usage is a major key in understanding what words or phrases were intended to

Moreover, how do you account for the fact, if etymology is so vaunted a guide to
meaning, that a word like DOXA, which originally had the sense "opinion" , is used
throughout the GNT with the meaning of "glory"?

Jeffrey Gibson

Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626

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