Tuesday, July 29, 2014

1-5 , Biblical Figures

Number Two in a series on Countries named after Peeps

1. Jacob son of Isaac son of Abraham

Yes, he almost certainly never really existed. And there are quite a few legendary founder figures whose names have become associated with countries in a false etymology. For instance, the derivation of  'Britain' from Brutus of Troy, 'Misr' (Egypt) from Mizraim son of Ham, and the doubly-incorrect derivation of the name of the country known in English as 'Georgia': in English, from St George (which is wrong) and in Kartvelian from 'Kartvel', an apocryphal son of Japheth (also wrong).

But I think it is quite likely that the first incarnation of the land of Israel, c.1000 BCE, was named as claimed after a legendary ancestor figure, instead of the other way around, given that the biblical accounts of its foundation have it being conquered a relatively short time before it is known by that name. I can't be sure; but I'm going to call it as a valid country named after a peep.

2. King Solomon son of David

Third king of the united kingdom of Israel, immortalised in Judeao-Christo-Islamic culture for his wisdom and fabulous wealth, whose name was given by a Spanish explorer to the Solomon Islands, sort of like Erik the Red naming Greenland 'Greenland', in hope that they would be chock full of treasure.

3. Mary mother of Jesus
You will search the roll of the United Nations in vain for a 'Santa Maria'.  No, the Blessed Virgin Mary makes this list in a rather obcure fashion. One of her many titles is 'Our Lady of the Snows', in reference to a 4th century miracle, which led a Spanish explorer to give the name 'Nuestra SeƱora de las Nieves' to a Caribbean island. This was gradually corrupted to 'Nevis', which is one half of the name of the nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

 4. Jesus Christ
While going forth to conquer new lands on the southern edge of New Spain with their armies of Nahuatl auxilaries, the Spanish (again) gave a region on the Pacific coast of Central America the pious but rather unwieldy name of 'The Province of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the World'. This has been shortened to 'The Saviour', El Salvador.

5. Thomas the Apostle
Of the many saints that have had countries named after them, the only biblical one is the Apostle Thomas, aka Doubting Thomas. A volcanic island off the coast of Africa, discovered on St. Thomas' day (December 21st) by Portuguese explorers, was given his name, and now forms one half of the nation of  Sao Tome and Principe.

1 comment:

Marco Parigi said...

I am looking forward to a continuation in August. :-)