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Click to Expand/Collapse OptionEtymArab
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ʔIblīsᵘ إبْليس , pl. ʔabālisaẗ
ID 004 • Sw – • BP ??? • APD ... • Aut SG
devil, Satan – WehrCowan1979.
The word is one of only 17 words in the Qurʔān which, with a good degree of likelihood, ultimately are of Grk origin. It may even be one of only two among these which are believed to be direct loans.
eC7 Q 2:34, 7:11, 15:31,32, 17:61, 18:50, 20:116, 26:95, 34:20, 38:74,75.
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▪ Jeffery 1938: 47-48: »The tendency among the Muslim authorities is to derive the name from balasa ‘to despair’, he being so called because God caused him to despair of all good — so Rāghib, Mufradāt , 59, and Ṭab. on ii, 32. The more acute philologers, however, recognized the impossibility of this (an-Nawawī, 138), and Zam. on xix, 57, says ʔiblīs ʔaʕǧamī wa-laysa mina l-ʔiblās kamā yazʕamūn [ʔiblīs is a foreign word, and not from ʔiblās as some argue]. al-Ǧawālīqī, Muʕarrab , 17, also justly argues against an Ar derivation. – That the word is a corruption of the Grk diábolos has been recognized by the majority of Western scholars.1 In the LXX diábolos represents the Hbr śāṭān in Zech. iii, but in the N.T. ho diábolos is more than ‘the adversary’, and particularly in the ecclesiastical writers he becomes the chief of the hosts of evil. It is in this sense that ʔiblīs appears in the Qurʔān , so we are doubly justified in looking for a Christian origin for the word. – One theory is that it came through the Syr, the being taken as the genitive particle,2 a phenomenon for which there are perhaps other examples, e.g. [Syr] YPNS for [Grk] diaphōnás (ZA , xxiv, 51), [Ar] qisṭās for [Grk] dikastḗs (ZDMG , 1, 620), zinṭāriyyaẗ for [Grk] dysentería (Geyer, ZweiGedichte , i, 119 n.). The difficulty is that the normal translation of ho diábolos is [Syr] ʔBLQRṢā , the ‘accuser’ or ‘calumniator’, both in the Peshitta (cf. Matt, iv) and in the ecclesiastical literature. There is a form [Syr] ḎYBLWS , a transliteration of diábolos , but PSm , 874, quotes this only as a dictionary word from BB . There is apparently no occurrence of the word in the old Ar literature,3 so it was possibly a word introduced by Muḥammad himself. If we could assume that some such form as ḎYBLWS was colloquially used among the Aramaic-speaking Christians with whom Muḥammad came in contact, the above explanation might hold, though one would have to assume that the had been dropped by his informants. The alternative is that it came into Ar directly from the Grk, and was used by the Ar-speaking Christians associated with the Byzantine Church.4 – Grimme, ZA , xxvi, 164, suggested that it might have come from SArabia, perhaps influenced by the Eth [Gz] diyāblos . This, however, is apparently a rare word in Eth [Gz], the usual translation for diábolos being sayṭān , though sometimes gānen is used (James iv, 7 ; 1 Pet. v, 8, etc.). Moreover, even if there were anything in Grimme’s theory that this was the form that crossed over into Arabia, his further supposition that the diyā‑ was taken to be the SAr = [Ar] ḏī is very far fetched.«
EALL (Gutas, “Greek Loanwords”): probably a direct loan from Grk diábolos .
▪ Rolland2014 refers also to Nişanyan2001 who derived the word from Grk epíboulos ‘qui machine contre, qui tend des pièges, insidieux’ rather than from diábolos , but the Nişanyan’s online TES (as of 24Sept2014) has again diábolos . In any case, the word has probably undergone paronymic attraction from √BLS ‘despair’.
1. Geiger, 100 ; von Kremer, Ideen , 226 n.; Fraenkel, Vocab , 24 ; Sprenger, Leben , ii, 242 ; Wensinck, EI , ii, 351 ; Rudolph, Abhängigkeit , 35 ; Vollers, ZDMG , 1, 620 ; Sacco, Credenze , 61. However, Pautz, Offenbarung , 69, n. 3, and Eickmann, Angelologie , 26, hold to an Ar origin, though Sprenger, Leben , ii, 242, n. 1, had pointed out that words of this form are as a rule foreign. 2. So Horovitz, KU , 87. Mingana, Syriac Influence , 89, thinks rather that it was the fault of some early scribe or copyist who mistook the initial Dal for an Alif . 3. The verses in Ibn Hišām, 318 and 516, noted by Horovitz, are from the period of the Hijra and so doubtless influenced by Muḥammad’s usage. They would seem fatal, however, to Mingana’s theory. 4. Künstlinger, “Die Herkunft des Wortes Iblīs im Ḳurān,” in Rocznik Orjentalistyczny , vi (1928), proposes the somewhat far-fetched theory that Iblīs is derived from the Jewish Belial by deliberate transformation.
Being taken from Grk diábolos , Ar ʔiblīs is of course related to Eur successors of the Grk word. Cf., e.g., entry devil in EtymOnline: “oEngl deofol ‘evil spirit, a devil, the devil, false god, diabolical person’, from lLat diabolus (also the source of Ital diavolo , Fr diable , Span diablo ; Ge Teufel is oHGe tiufal , from Lat via Goth diabaulus ). – The lLat word is from Ecclesiastical Grk diábolos , in Jewish and Christian use, ‘Devil, Satan’ (scriptural loan-translation of Hbr satan ), in general use ‘accuser, slanderer’, from diabállein ‘to slander, attack’, lit. ‘throw across’, from dia‑ ‘across, through’ + bállein ‘to throw’ (see ballistics ). Jerome re-introduced Satan in Lat bibles, and Engl translators have used both in different measures.”
ʔiblīsī, adj., devilish, satanic, diabolic: nsb-adj.
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