Re: [GTh] nicknames
- Hi Kevin-
You mentioned ...
> - a ... Judas was called "Son of the Father" or Barsabbas [Acts 15:22]I think you might have this name mixed up with 'Barabbas', which could,
I suppose, be taken to mean 'son of the father', but 'Barsabbas' means
'son of [the] Sabbath' according to NIV (bar-sabbas vs bar-abbas). There's
also a Joseph Barsabbas mentioned in Acts (1:23) - the guy who lost
out to Matthias as the replacement apostle (NIV thinks they might have
As to the controversial character named 'Barabbas', NIV interprets that
to be a patronymic - 'son of Abbas'. Which brings up interesting (to me)
questions about nicknames versus patronymics, as well as between two
types of patronymics, which might be called 'one-time' and 'serial'.
(What I would call 'serial patronymics' are those typified in English by
generations upon generations using the same last name, e.g. "Jack's son".)
As to nicknames, it seems safe to say that if the Greek has 'x called y',
then 'y' must be a nickname. But that test is probably not sufficient.
I suspect that bandits in those days may not have been too unlike
bandits in other days, insofar as some of them may have adopted
nicknames to use in place of (not in addition to) their natural names
(perhaps to disguise family affiliation, and/or to impress others).
Thus, 'Barabbas' may have been a nickname adopted by the bandit,
contra NIV. In which case, it could mean 'son of the Father'. (If, on
the other hand, Barabbas was only a fictional character, it's difficult
for me to see why a writer would have chosen that name for that
character - unless, that is, there was a real and well-known bandit
who called himself "Barabbas", and whose name was borrowed
by the writer for a fictional character.)
As to clear patronymics, we seem to have at least two in
'Bartholomew' and 'Bartimaeus' (the blind beggar, 'son of Timaeus').
The evidence seems to indicate that biblical patronymics were of
the one-time variety, i.e., that the father named was the immediate
father - as opposed to our modern day "serial patronymics", where
the father named is removed far beyond recollection.
Such are my mullings, for what they're worth.