meaning and etymology of Phonos

meaning and etymology of Phonos

Postby Mike Burke Deactivated » February 26th, 2013, 1:19 pm

What is the etymology of Phonos?

Does the word itself convey the concept of premeditation, or unauthorized killing?

Would it automatically exclude justifiable homicide, execution, and killing in time of war?
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Re: meaning and etymology of Phonos

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » February 27th, 2013, 12:17 am

Etymology doesn't matter.

What defines a word is its usage.

In the case of φονος, 'murder' is the predominant meaning in the Bible, although it is used of death through negligence in Deuteronomy 22:8. It's also used to describe the Israelites' killing their enemies in battle in Leviticus 26:7 (interestingly, φονω is used here to render לחרב, 'by the sword'; the identical phrase is rendered by the more expected μαχαιρα in verse 8).
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Re: meaning and etymology of Phonos

Postby Barry Hofstetter » February 27th, 2013, 8:00 am

Mike Burke wrote:What is the etymology of Phonos?

Does the word itself convey the concept of premeditation, or unauthorized killing?

Would it automatically exclude justifiable homicide, execution, and killing in time of war?


Here is the BDAG entry:

φόνος, ου, ὁ (Hom.+) murder, killing Mk 15:7; Lk 23:19, 25 (cp. Sb 7992 [pap c. 200 A.D.] 22f κεκράτηται ἕνεκα φόνου); Ac 9:1. ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρης (Ex 17:13; Dt 13:16; 20:13) (by being murdered) with the sword Hb 11:37. Anger as a cause D 3:2a. Pl. bloody deeds (Diod S 13, 48, 2; Ael. Aristid. 35, 7 K.=9 p. 100 D.; Lucian, Catapl. 27 al.; 2 Macc 4:3; Jos., C. Ap. 2, 269, Vi. 103; Mel., P. 50, 367) 3:2b. W. other sins Mt 15:19; Mk 7:21; Rv 9:21. In lists of vices (cp. Dio Chrys. 17 [34], 19 codd.; Hos 4:2; Mel., P. 50, 367; Ath., R. 23 p. 76, 12) Ro 1:29 (sing. w. φθόνος.—A similar wordplay in Appian, Hann. 21 §93 φόνος τε καὶ πόνος); B 20:1 (sing.); D 5:1 (pl.).—B. 1455. Frisk. DELG s.v. θείνω. M-M.

There is no automatic about it. It depends on context.
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Re: meaning and etymology of Phonos

Postby Mike Burke Deactivated » March 1st, 2013, 9:58 am

although it is used of death through negligence in Deuteronomy 22:8. It's also used to describe the Israelites' killing their enemies in battle in Leviticus 26:7


There is no automatic about it. It depends on context.


Thank you, but BDAG and Strong's both seem define phonos as "murder," and the definition of "murder" is "secret or unlawful killing," so if that is the correct definition of the Greek word, wouldn't it automatically imply secret or unlawful?

How can it be used of negligent or justified homicide (in Deut. 22:8 and Lev. 26:7)?

Could the meaning of phonos be closer to "homicide"?

The killing of one human being by another human being.

Although the term homicide is sometimes used synonymously with murder, homicide is broader in scope than murder. Murder is a form of criminal homicide; other forms of homicide might not constitute criminal acts. These homicides are regarded as justified or excusable. For example, individuals may, in a necessary act of Self-Defense, kill a person who threatens them with death or serious injury, or they may be commanded or authorized by law to kill a person who is a member of an enemy force or who has committed a serious crime.

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/homicide

it doesn't look like Lev. 26:7 is talking about a criminal act, so could "homicide" be a better definition of "phonos" than murder?

And what is the etymology?
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Re: meaning and etymology of Phonos

Postby NathanSmith » March 1st, 2013, 8:24 pm

Mike Burke wrote:And what is the etymology?

The LSJ entry does not appear to have any etymological info. I am unsure of the implications of that, but it seems this word is either unique to Greek or cannot be effectively traced (somebody more knowledgeable about Greek etymology may be able to fill in the blanks here).

As was stated above, etymology is not a good source for determining the meaning of a word in context. There is no way of knowing if the speaker/author even knew the etymology, and (generally speaking) there are documented cases where speakers have a mistaken belief about a word's etymology. There is nothing "automatic" in this process. Looking at the usage of the same word elsewhere in the corpus (Gospels, or maybe NT as a whole) can be helpful but not deterministic. I would also caution against using examples from the LXX, because those are in translation and therefore introduce a whole new layer of complexity.
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Re: meaning and etymology of Phonos

Postby timothy_p_mcmahon » March 1st, 2013, 10:38 pm

Mike Burke wrote:
could "homicide" be a better definition of "phonos" than murder?

Yes, although 'murder' is more appropriate in most biblical instances. The ten commandments, for example, don't prohibit justifiable homicide.
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Re: meaning and etymology of Phonos

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 2nd, 2013, 2:40 pm

Here's the etymological note in LSJ for its cognate verb θείνω:
(I.-E. gu̯hen- cf. Skt. hánti, pl. ghnánti, Hittite kuenzi, pl. kunanzi 'strike', 'kill'; gu̯hon- in Gr. φόνος; gu̯hn- in Skt. ghn-ánti, Gr. ἔ-πε-φν-ον (redupl.); gu̯hn̥- in Skt. -hata-, Gr. -φατο-, πέφαται, etc.)


What this means is that φόνος is a word inherited from Greek's Indo-European ancestor with a meaning on the order of "strike" or "kill."
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