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Thread: Literal translations of Biblical names?

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    It's an interesting topic, but I'd like to bring things back to my original question, if I could. Can someone take a stab at a literal translation for each of these names? Adam, Eve Cain, Abel?

    For instance, would Adam's name literally have been ground? Would Cain's literally have been possession or acquisition?

    Or would they have just been similar sounding?

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calminian View Post
    It's an interesting topic, but I'd like to bring things back to my original question, if I could. Can someone take a stab at a literal translation for each of these names? Adam, Eve Cain, Abel?

    For instance, would Adam's name literally have been ground? Would Cain's literally have been possession or acquisition?

    Or would they have just been similar sounding?
    Robrecht already did that in post #3

    http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/sh...l=1#post410281

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    Quote Originally Posted by Calminian View Post
    It's an interesting topic, but I'd like to bring things back to my original question, if I could. Can someone take a stab at a literal translation for each of these names? Adam, Eve Cain, Abel?

    For instance, would Adam's name literally have been ground? Would Cain's literally have been possession or acquisition?

    Or would they have just been similar sounding?
    Sure, I'll take a stab at shorter answers: No, no, yes. I think, in context, 'adam' literally means 'humankind' or 'the human' or 'the person' or 'the man' in Genesis 1-3, and in a couple of places (Gen 4,25 5,3-5) it is used as a person's name, Adam. In my opinion the NRSV correctly translates it this way throughout Gen 1-5, except in Gen 5,1, where I believe the LXX has a better translation of the Hebrew. The feminine form of 'adam' means 'earth', in the sense of dirt or ground, and it is clearly evoked by the name Adam, 'though it is not a literal translation. Eve is an ancient word for 'life' or 'village', and she is clearly given the name Eve in the text. Cain would literally mean spear or (copper) smith, and he is clearly given the name Cain by Eve who make a play on words based on the similarity of the word Cain and 'to acquire/make'. Abel literally means mist or fog.
    Last edited by robrecht; 01-24-2017 at 04:48 PM.
    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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    Quote Originally Posted by robrecht View Post
    Sure, I'll take a stab at shorter answers: No, no, yes. I think, in context, 'adam' literally means 'humankind' or 'the human' or 'the person' or 'the man' in Genesis 1-3, and in a couple of places (Gen 4,25 5,3-5) it is used as a person's name, Adam. In my opinion the NRSV correctly translates it this way throughout Gen 1-5, except in Gen 5,1, where I believe the LXX has a better translation of the Hebrew. The feminine form of 'adam' means 'earth', in the sense of dirt or ground, and it is clearly evoked by the name Adam, 'though it is not a literal translation. Eve is an ancient word for 'life' or 'village', and she is clearly given the name Eve in the text. Cain would literally mean spear or (copper) smith, and he is clearly given the name Cain by Eve who make a play on words based on the similarity of the word Cain and 'to acquire/make'. Abel literally means mist or fog.
    Appreciate it, thanks. Being Adam was from the ground, it makes sense his name is a masculine form of that word. So I guess those walking around with him for a few hundred years thought of him as Dirtius or Groundus or some play on the root word. Very interesting, i think. Then born to him were Aquirus and Mistian from his lovely wife Lifine. Am I grasping this?

    BTW, on the secondary discussion, it would seem Adam's name meaning "mankind" has more to do with him be the father of all mankind. We are all Adam, because we are from Adam. Just as Jews are all Israel, having come from Israel. Some of us are Israel, some are Shem, some are Egypt, but all are Adam. Therefore his name would naturally be a synonym for mankind. That's how I've always thought of it.

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    tWebber robrecht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calminian View Post
    Appreciate it, thanks. Being Adam was from the ground, it makes sense his name is a masculine form of that word. So I guess those walking around with him for a few hundred years thought of him as Dirtius or Groundus or some play on the root word. Very interesting, i think. Then born to him were Aquirus and Mistian from his lovely wife Lifine. Am I grasping this?

    BTW, on the secondary discussion, it would seem Adam's name meaning "mankind" has more to do with him be the father of all mankind. We are all Adam, because we are from Adam. Just as Jews are all Israel, having come from Israel. Some of us are Israel, some are Shem, some are Egypt, but all are Adam. Therefore his name would naturally be a synonym for mankind. That's how I've always thought of it.
    I don't follow the 'Aquirus' reference. Nor do I know enough evolutionary science to know if it is in fact correct to even speak of a single first man roaming around Africa or wherever. I suspect not, but my knowledge of the science pretty much plateau'd with high school biology. And whenever humans first started using names, that too I do not know, but I very much doubt that they spoke Hebrew. I know a little bit of early Hebrew, and a couple of its earlier cognate languages, but nothing of the history of language before that.
    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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    Quote Originally Posted by robrecht View Post
    I don't follow the 'Aquirus' reference. Nor do I know enough evolutionary science to know if it is in fact correct to even speak of a single first man roaming around Africa or wherever. I suspect not, but my knowledge of the science pretty much plateau'd with high school biology. And whenever humans first started using names, that too I do not know, but I very much doubt that they spoke Hebrew. I know a little bit of early Hebrew, and a couple of its earlier cognate languages, but nothing of the history of language before that.
    Acquirus, rather. In other words a name which incorporates the root acquired. If I understood correctly.

    I'm sad you don't believe Genesis is history. There's actually a movie in theaters next month called "Is Genesis History?" Here is the trailer.



    It's a one night event, Thursday, February 23rd. You can check here to see if there's a theater near you.
    http://isgenesishistory.com/theaters

    If you're open.

    I do appreciate your input on my post.
    Last edited by Calminian; 01-25-2017 at 04:18 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Calminian View Post
    Acquirus, rather. In other words a name which incorporates the root acquired. If I understood correctly.
    Oh, I get it now. But the verb 'to get, acquire, create' is only a word play on the name of Cain, not the true meaning or an etymology. It's as if one were to say you were named Calminian because your mother used calamine lotion on you when you were born. Calamine and Calminian sound alike but are not in any other way related as words.

    Quote Originally Posted by Calminian View Post
    I'm sad you don't believe Genesis is history. There's actually a movie in theaters next month called "Is Genesis History?" Here is the trailer.



    It's a one night event, Thursday, February 23rd. You can check here to see if there's a theater near you.
    http://isgenesishistory.com/theaters

    If you're open.

    I do appreciate your input on my post.
    You're entirely welcome!
    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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    Adam did name Eve,

    Genesis 3:20,
    And the man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all life.

    Eve = Hebrew "chavah" -- written almost like "chayah"= beast.

    Genesis 1:25,
    And God made the beasts of the earth , "vaya'as elohim et chayat haaretz"-

    Rashi:
    And the man named: Scripture returns to its previous topic (2:20): “And the man named,” and it interrupted only to teach you that through the giving of names, Eve was mated to him, as it is written (above 2:20): “but for man, he did not find a helpmate opposite him.”

    Adam didn't name himself.
    In this sense his name remains a mystery, a question mark.

    Genesis 1:26,
    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,

    Let us make man = "na'aseh Adam"

    after our likeness = "kidmuteinu" --

    It is suggested that that the rootletters "d-m" ("dalet-mem") explain the name Adam as "I am like" , "I do resemble" (First letter of Adam , "alef", denoting the first person singular).

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    Just a couple passing through comments:
    When Adam was created, he was the only human, so he didn’t need a name. When there’s only one, what’s the point of any other name?
    In the same way the Scriptures can speak of God. That’s not a name, but since there is only one, it’s all the name he really needs. It was due to man’s weakness and sin, worshiping false gods, that God finally, thousands of years later, chose a name for himself. The LORD, a name he would never have needed if not for sin, which is significant since it is his covenant name by which he makes himself known as the one who faithfully loves and saves us in spite of our sin. If Moses hadn’t been weak and sinful, he never would have asked for God’s name, yet God answered with grace and mercy, “I Am Who I Am,” and he made that his name.
    It’s only when a second human is created that names are needed, and the first human got dibs on the name “Human.” It was both his name and what he was, and I don’t think they quibbled about usage, name or noun?

    Secondly, when all the world’s languages were confused at Babel, there’s no reason to think the Shemites got dibs on the pre-Babel language, or that the Jews would eventually speak the same language as Adam had. If not, then all the names in the first chapters of Genesis are translations or transliterations of what they were actually called.
    Eve’s etymology is uncertain. It could have the same roots as “village,” (it takes a mother to make a village, literally).
    And Cain only sounds like “acquired.” But these names might just be an accommodation to the shift in languages that made an exact, meaningful explanation difficult. (Like a joke in one language that simply can’t be translated into another language). Even if some form of Hebrew was the Ur-language, it would have evolved so much in the thousands of years before Moses wrote the story down, that the same problems would apply.

  10. Amen Sparko, Cerebrum123 amen'd this post.
  11. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Passing Through View Post
    Just a couple passing through comments:
    When Adam was created, he was the only human, so he didn’t need a name. When there’s only one, what’s the point of any other name?
    In the same way the Scriptures can speak of God. That’s not a name, but since there is only one, it’s all the name he really needs. It was due to man’s weakness and sin, worshiping false gods, that God finally, thousands of years later, chose a name for himself. The LORD, a name he would never have needed if not for sin, which is significant since it is his covenant name by which he makes himself known as the one who faithfully loves and saves us in spite of our sin. If Moses hadn’t been weak and sinful, he never would have asked for God’s name, yet God answered with grace and mercy, “I Am Who I Am,” and he made that his name.
    It’s only when a second human is created that names are needed, and the first human got dibs on the name “Human.” It was both his name and what he was, and I don’t think they quibbled about usage, name or noun?

    Secondly, when all the world’s languages were confused at Babel, there’s no reason to think the Shemites got dibs on the pre-Babel language, or that the Jews would eventually speak the same language as Adam had. If not, then all the names in the first chapters of Genesis are translations or transliterations of what they were actually called.
    Eve’s etymology is uncertain. It could have the same roots as “village,” (it takes a mother to make a village, literally).
    And Cain only sounds like “acquired.” But these names might just be an accommodation to the shift in languages that made an exact, meaningful explanation difficult. (Like a joke in one language that simply can’t be translated into another language). Even if some form of Hebrew was the Ur-language, it would have evolved so much in the thousands of years before Moses wrote the story down, that the same problems would apply.
    Maybe, but there are also more generic names for man in the book of Genesis. It would seem Adam was to function as his name, and it would seem he was named after the ground he was made from.

    Also, someone mentioned both Adam and Eve were referred to as Adam, which makes sense since Eve also came from him. All are Adam, because all come from him, just like all that came from Israel are Israel.

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