QUESTION: A bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church insists that all the translators and lexicographers are mistaken when they represent that Paul was a "babbler" by the Athenians whom he met in the market place. He says they complimented Paul by calling him a spermologos, "a great conversationalist," full of seed-thoughts, and wise sayings, which he scattered broadcast in the agora to the delighted astonishment of the natives. Is this bishop correct?
ANSWER: The best scholars quote Homer, Plutarch, and Demosthenes in proof that σπερμολόγος (spermologos
), seed-gatherer, is a term of contempt applied to loungers about the market-place picking up a subsistence by whatever may chance to fall from the loads of merchandise; hence a man beggarly and abject, living by flattery and buffoonery, an empty talker, an idle babbler.
— from Steele's Answers pp. 52, 53.
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