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|WikiProject Christianity||(Rated Stub-class)|
Not Sumerian — or is it?
The word abyss is Greek as correctly stated in the article. However, the origin is not Sumerian, it is Greek. The etymology is Greek as correctly analyzed. I am afraid the person who wrote the article has the wrong references: Jewish Encyclopaedia!!! Why not try a Greek or American encyclopedia? You are dealng with a Greek word, not Jewish. I suggest you open any serious Greek Lexicon of ancient language, a language which has survived in the form of modern Greek and not a dead language like sumerian. I suggest you open any non-Greek publications of encyclopaedia or Lexicon to view one of the million words of ancient Greek and not the poor sumerian language. Every reference you can find on abyss (unlike Jewish Encyclopedia) states the Greek origin and etymology of the word. Please dont try to create a false link of greek words with the east. Nothing was known of sumerian history 100 years ago. Then the last 100 years american historians have created a whole sumerian civilization out of nothing. You use the words 'may have arisen'. This means you are speculating and you are not sure and certainly you cannot prove it. So I suggest you remove the note on sumerian origin. I really dont think the sumerian needed a word for 'deep waters' because they were not sea people or very close to the sea, except from rivers. On the other hand the Greeks were sea-farers having colonized the whole of mediterranean.
All the following on-line lexicons and encuyclopedias have NO reference to any Sumerian origin. They only state a Greek origin:
1) New Testament Greek Lexicon http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=12
4)Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01075d.htm
5)Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology http://www.studylight.org/dic/bed/view.cgi?number=T9
10)Bible Encyclopedia http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/A/ABYSS/
- The sources you cite all seem to be based in religious studies and theology. In classical studies, there is an alternative etymology for abyssos that does indeed point to Sumerian. See Abyzou: Origins. I'm not arguing against the conventional etymology of abyssos as an alpha privative plus an element relating to the Greek for "deep, bottom"; I'm simply saying that the other etymology is not unfounded and has its proponents. Cynwolfe (talk) 13:19, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
- First of all, if the word Abyss was borrowed by the Greeks it would not have a clear Greek etymology. Then, your only reference is the 'abyzou' wiki article which has 4 lines of someone called 'Barb' who wishes to argue something of the origin of the name. That is very nice but does not prove anything. However, such rare speculations seem worth mentioning to you. Also, the 'abyzou' article has the following mistake. :'Greek nouns ending in -os are typically masculine'. There are countless Greek nouns ending in -os which are feminine. So attempting to use this to support that argument that Abyss is treated as feminine by the Greeks because abyzou was a feminine godess is clearly false. Kassos (talk) 18:54, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
The concept is indeed Sumerian. The Abyss, or Chaos, refers to nothing else but the Abzu, the primeval freshwater ocean that existed before the creation of the earth/land, and that is later the subterranean stream that constantly flows from west to east. 07:41, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
- I'm just now revisiting this page and hadn't seen the hostile note above. A.A. Barb is a widely cited folklorist and classicist; although some of his scholarship may be outdated, he is still referenced by scholars who study ancient magic and folk belief. I'm assuming the contempt came after Barb's argument was actually examined. It is certainly bizarre to assert that second-declension Greek nouns in -os are commonly of feminine gender. See also here. Cynwolfe (talk) 20:25, 3 January 2011 (UTC)
It was not unknown for the ancient Greeks (and many others) to come up with folk etymologies for foreign loan words (e.g. Amazon derived from "without breast" when it is most likely derived from the name of an Iranian tribe *ha-mazan [Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque]), so it is at least possible that abyssos is such a case (though Chantraine doesn't mention the alternative etymology). If the standard etymology is a case of folk etymology, however, it would have to have been quite early, since Homer uses the form byssos meaning depths, bottom (Iliad 24.80). The earliest citations of abyssos I found were Aeschylus and Aristides. The frequency statistics in Perseus show 169 uses of byssos and 36 of abyssos. The chronology and frequencies suggest (though of course they don't prove) that abyssos was derived from byssos and not vice versa. Still, if nothing else, the Abzu etymology is an interesting coincidence, and I don't see why it shouldn't be mentioned. John.velonis (talk) 06:40, 17 February 2015 (UTC)