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Re: Origin of 'mite'

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  • RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Does anyone know what a mite was? The older translations tend to render coin denominations in terms of familiar coinage, but I can t find any trace of the
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 22 2:41 PM
      Does anyone know what a mite was? The older translations tend to render coin
      denominations in terms of familiar coinage, but I can't find any trace of
      the 'mite'. Tyndale (1526) has 'And there cam a certayne povre widowe, and she
      threwe in two mytes, whyche make a farthinge' in Mark 12, so presumably it
      would have meant something to a 16th-century readership. Henry VIII issued
      farthings, but not mites, so what would it have referred to?

      Regards,

      Robert Brenchley


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Horace Jeffery Hodges
      An online etymological dictionary gives this information: http://www.etymonline.com/m7etym.htm mite (1) - tiny animal, O.E. mite, from P.Gmc. *miton (cf.
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 22 4:37 PM
        An online etymological dictionary gives this
        information:

        http://www.etymonline.com/m7etym.htm

        mite (1) - "tiny animal," O.E. mite, from P.Gmc.
        *miton (cf. M.Du. mite, O.H.G. miza, Dan. mide)
        originally meaning perhaps "the cutter" (from P.Gmc.
        *mait-, cf. Goth. maitan, O.H.G. meizen "to cut") in
        reference to its bite. More likely etymology is that
        its original sense is "something small" (from PIE
        *mei- "small") in reference to size.

        mite (2) - "little bit," c.1350, from M.Du. or M.L.G.
        mite "tiny animal," also the name of a medieval
        Flemish copper coin of very small value, used
        proverbially in Eng. for "a very small unit of money,"
        hence used since Wyclif to translate L. minutum from
        Vulgate in Mark xii.43, itself a translation of Gk.
        lepton. From P.Gmc. *miton-, which probably is the
        source of mite (1).


        --- RSBrenchley@... wrote:
        > Does anyone know what a mite was? The older
        > translations tend to render coin
        > denominations in terms of familiar coinage, but I
        > can't find any trace of
        > the 'mite'. Tyndale (1526) has 'And there cam a
        > certayne povre widowe, and she
        > threwe in two mytes, whyche make a farthinge' in
        > Mark 12, so presumably it
        > would have meant something to a 16th-century
        > readership. Henry VIII issued
        > farthings, but not mites, so what would it have
        > referred to?
        >
        > Regards,
        >
        > Robert Brenchley

        =====
        Office:

        Assistant Professor Horace Jeffery Hodges [Ph.D., History, U.C. Berkeley]
        Department of English Language and Literature
        Korea University
        136-701 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
        Seoul
        South Korea

        Home:

        Sun-Ae Hwang and Horace Jeffery Hodges
        Seo-Dong 125-2
        Shin-Dong-A, Apt. 102-709
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      • Bob Schacht
        ... Robert, I posted your query to a more likely list, the Ecclesiastical History list, and received the following response [Some symbols, probably smart
        Message 3 of 7 , Jul 22 4:42 PM
          At 02:41 PM 7/22/2004, you wrote:
          >Does anyone know what a mite was? The older translations tend to render coin
          >denominations in terms of familiar coinage, but I can't find any trace of
          >the 'mite'. Tyndale (1526) has 'And there cam a certayne povre widowe,
          >and she
          >threwe in two mytes, whyche make a farthinge' in Mark 12, so presumably it
          >would have meant something to a 16th-century readership. Henry VIII issued
          >farthings, but not mites, so what would it have referred to?
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Robert Brenchley

          Robert,
          I posted your query to a more likely list, the Ecclesiastical History list,
          and received the following response [Some symbols, probably "smart quotes"
          and such, were transmogrified in cyberspace]:


          >From: "Kevin P. Edgecomb" <kevino@...>
          >Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 16:33:44 -0700 (PDT)
          >Subject: Re: [ecchst-l] Fwd: Re: Origin of 'mite'
          >
          >Dear Bob,
          >The online OED can be a real lifesaver. Here is the etymology for "mite, n.2":
          >
          >[< Middle Dutch meite, meute, mite, mütte small copper coin, also in fig.
          >use in sense ‘little bit, jot, whit’ (Dutch mijt, mieter, mijter),
          >prob. orig. spec. use of mite MITE n.1 In English perh. partly via Middle
          >French mite (1288 in Old French in sense ‘small Flemish copper coin’,
          >first half of the 14th cent. in Old French in fig. use; also in Old French
          >as mitte). Cf. Middle Low German mīte, mīt small Dutch coin, also in
          >fig. use, German Meit, Meite little bit, whit, jot (16th cent. or
          >earlier), both < Middle Dutch.
          > In early examples in Flemish sources app. denoting a coin worth 1/3 of
          > a Flemish penny, though other, chiefly smaller, values are also found.
          > From the late 14th cent. mite has been the usual rendering (though the
          > Wyclif versions have ‘mynutis’) of post-classical Latin minutum
          > (Vulgate), Hellenistic Greek lept/on in Mark 12:42, where two ‘mites’
          > are stated to make a ‘farthing’ (Hellenistic Greek kodr/anths,
          > post-classical Latin quadrans); hence the word was popularly taken as
          > equivalent to ‘half farthing’.
          > With sense 4a cf. earlier MITING n.]
          >
          >Enjoy!
          >Kevin P. Edgecomb
          >Berkeley, California



          Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
          Northern Arizona University
          Flagstaff, AZ

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jack Kilmon
          ... From: To: Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2004 4:41 PM Subject: [XTalk] Re: Origin of mite ... coin ... and
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 23 4:16 PM
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: <RSBrenchley@...>
            To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2004 4:41 PM
            Subject: [XTalk] Re: Origin of 'mite'


            > Does anyone know what a mite was? The older translations tend to render
            coin
            > denominations in terms of familiar coinage, but I can't find any trace of
            > the 'mite'. Tyndale (1526) has 'And there cam a certayne povre widowe,
            and she
            > threwe in two mytes, whyche make a farthinge' in Mark 12, so presumably
            it
            > would have meant something to a 16th-century readership. Henry VIII
            issued
            > farthings, but not mites, so what would it have referred to?


            The "mite" was a prutah, in Greek a lepton. It was the lowest denomination
            coin and was minted by the Hasmonians, Herodians, Roman prefects and
            procurators. It was about the price of one pomegranate. You can view some
            of them that are in my collection of biblical coins at:
            http://www.historian.net/coins.htm

            Jack
          • RSBrenchley@aol.com
            In a message dated 24/07/04 19:36:01 GMT Daylight Time, crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com writes:
            Message 5 of 7 , Jul 24 4:37 PM
              In a message dated 24/07/04 19:36:01 GMT Daylight Time,
              crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com writes:

              <<The "mite" was a prutah, in Greek a lepton. It was the lowest denomination
              coin and was minted by the Hasmonians, Herodians, Roman prefects and
              procurators. It was about the price of one pomegranate. You can view some
              of them that are in my collection of biblical coins at:
              http://www.historian.net/coins.htm

              Jack>>



              Lepton and prutah aren't normally considered as the same denomination
              though; a lepton was probably half a prutah. I think your Augustus is actually RIC
              vol I 493, the reverse being capricorn R, head L, bearing cornucopia, within
              laurel wreath. Minted in Pergamum, c27-26BC, R2 (ie rarer than the one you
              have it attributed as).

              Regards,

              Robert Brenchley


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • RSBrenchley@aol.com
              Thanks to everyone for the replies, which settle quite a bit of confusion. Regards, Robert Brenchley [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              Message 6 of 7 , Jul 24 4:40 PM
                Thanks to everyone for the replies, which settle quite a bit of confusion.

                Regards,

                Robert Brenchley


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Joseph Weaks
                ... This is what J. W. Betlyon says in his ABD article, that the mite was probably a Greek lepton, the smallest coin then in circulation. He also suggests
                Message 7 of 7 , Jul 24 6:18 PM
                  On Jul 24, 2004, at 6:37 PM, RSBrenchley@... wrote:
                  > Lepton and prutah aren't normally considered as the same denomination
                  > though; a lepton was probably half a prutah.

                  This is what J. W. Betlyon says in his ABD article, that the mite "was
                  probably a Greek lepton, the smallest coin then in circulation." He
                  also suggests that it was "half a Roman quadrans or Jewish peruta."
                  (pg. 1076, "Coins", J.W.Betlyon)

                  Joe Weaks
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