🔼The name Bartimaeus in the Bible
The name Bartimaeus occurs only one time in the New Testament. Mark tells us that blind Bartimaeus is a son of Timaeus, and that he is sitting by the side of the road close to Jericho (Mark 10:46-52). Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus and Jesus pronounces him healed by his faith.
🔼Etymology of the name Bartimaeus
The name Bartimaeus consists of two elements, the first being בר (bar), the Aramaic word for son:
The second part of the name Bartimaeus is the same as the name of his father: Timaeus, and Timaeus comes from the verb τιμη (time), meaning to honor (and note the similarity between our name Βαρτιμαιος and the noun βαρυτιμος (barutimos), which few members of a Greek audience would have missed):
The name Bartimaeus means Son Of Timaeus, and it's formed like a pretty straight forward surname, comparable to something like Timson. And since the name Timaeus means Highly Prized, the name Bartimaeus means Son Of He Who's Highly Prized, or Son Of honor.
However, there are some problems with this interpretation. First of all: some scholars object to the hybridism of Bartimaeus, consisting of the Aramaic bar and the Greek name Timaeus. But even though it's unusual, it's not a complete no-no. Our surname Peterson, to name an example, consists of the Greek name Peter and the Germanic word son. The surname McGregor comes from the Greek name Gregory and the Celtic word for son.
But then: although Mark writes for a predominantly Greco-Latin audience, his wording seems rather redundant: a man named Son-Of-Timaeus who was the son of Timaeus. That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
Spiros Zodhiates (The Complete Wordstudy Dictionary) circumvents this conundrum by deriving the second part of the name Bartimaeus from the Hebrew verb טמא (tame), the regular Hebrew word for to be or become unclean.
That would render the name Bartimaeus the meaning of Son Of The Unclean One, or Son Of Uncleanness, which seems a bit stretched. But on the other hand, it would neatly solve the puzzle of why Mark insists talking about one Son-Of-Timaeus, who was the son of Timaeus. This statement may now be explained as: what is high-prized in our society is really a state of uncleanness, which results in blindness, which can only be healed by Christ.