Thursday, April 25, 2013

Moulton and Milligan on BASILEUS

This discussion is based on M-M's Vocabulary of the New Testament.

BASILEUS was a title adopted by Alexander the Great and it was used by his successors "in the Syrian and Egyptian monarchies." It was a title known to Jews of the Diaspora and later came to be applied to the Roman Emperor.

Concerning the title BASILEUS BASILEWN (Rev 17:14; 19:16), Deissmann presented evidence that this phrase was "in very early Eastern history a decoration of actual great monarchs and also a divine title." Furthermore, "Dittenberger (p. 648) contests Strack's attempt to claim BASILEUS as well as BASILISSA as a term applicable to non-regnant members of a royal family: he notes that there is all the difference between BASILEUS and its feminine. Wilcken Archiv iii. p. 319 supports him, and notes inscriptions where BASILEUS is promptly dropped when a mere H. R. H. is named after the king and his consort. He also commends Dittenberger's remark that Augustus and Augusta had the same difference after Domitian's time."

7 comments:

aservantofJehovah said...

interesting but irrelevant.

Edgar Foster said...

It's not irrelevant at all. The lexical entry in M-M shows that the ancients carefully distinguished between a BASILEUS and his BASILISSA. The Romans also differentiated the Augustus from the Augusta (the queen). BASILEUS consistently applies to male human rulers only in the papyri.

aservantofJehovah said...

I have never ever claimed that basileus can mean queen.therefore as a counter to my position it is irrelevant.

Edgar Foster said...

But you have claimed that BASILEUS can be used as a generic term for a "king" and a "queen" (BASILISSA). However, the M-M entry shows that Greeks and Romans carefully distinguished between kings and queens in their discourse and writings. Neither language (Latin or Greek) had any reason to use BASILEUS or Augustus as generic terms. Besides, Greek has a generic word for "ruler."

Edgar Foster said...

M-M says there is "all the difference in the world between BASILEUS and its feminine" counterpart. If that's true, then why use BASILEUS as a generic term for BASILISSA?

aservantofJehovah said...

Now this last comment shows that you are not paying attention to what I am trying to say,I Have Never Said that basileus can mean queen,Queen would exclude Kings.I have been attempting to discuss inclusive idioms.The masculine noun can be used inclusively.And the context of revelation19:16 and Daniel2:47 implies that in these prophecies 'Basileus'and Melek are being used inclusively.If it is your claim that these inspired statements are intentionally silent on the position of female rulers Re:Jehovah where are the passages of scripture that outline the position of Female rulers re:Jehovah.Only if we take these text as being inclusive do we avoid the problem of having to argue from silence about the subjection of female rulers re: Jehovah's kingdom

Edgar Foster said...

Again, you seem to be misunderstanding me. Show me where I wrote "means" in this thread. You won't find it. I said stands in for or "applies." I said nothing about BASILISSA meaning BASILEUS. Nor did I say you espouse that position. What I did point out is that you claim BASILEUs is being employed generically for both BASIELUS and BASILISSA, much like the English pronoun "he" for "he/she" or the noun "man" which includes "men and women." Do you now see what I've been arguing?

Of course, "queen" (BASILISSA) would exclude BASILEUS. So why can't you reason in the converse, that BASILEUS also excludes BASILISSA?

You assert that that BASILEUS can be used generically. However, no lexical source that I've consulted supports your statement. It is my position that Rev 19:16; Dan 2:47 say nothing about female rulers. I.e. they are not using masculine terms inclusively. I see no need to account for how Jehovah will deal with female rulers, anymore than I have to reconcile similar passages.

It seems to me that if the writers meant to speak inclusively of male and female rulers, there would be clear precedents and examples in Greek literature. There may well be such evidence. However, everything I've been reading has led me to conclude that the Greeks did not use BASILEUS inclusively. They have/had a word for "queens" and could have explicitly written "kings and "queens" in Rev 19:16 if that's what the writer wanted to say. Or, as you suggest, there could have been clear examples for the generic use of BASILEUS. But I have yet to see it.

To summarize, I'm not arguing from silence. My approach involves looking at the semantics of a term and how writers utilize terms in particular contexts.