🔼The name Lysanias in the Bible
The name Lysanias occurs only once in the Bible. The author of the gospel of Luke uses Lysanias' tetrarchy of Abilene to help pinpoint when John the Baptist conducted his ministry and ultimately when he baptized Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 3:1).
In historical records and inscriptions, the name Lysanias is firmly connected to the tetrarchy in Abilene, covering several persons and spanning at least a century. It's not clear whether these are coincidences or deliberate connections, and an ongoing debate shows merit to both possibilities.
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the gospels are deliberately disguised to look like the biographies of a romanticized peasant rebel, but are in fact biographies of the embodiment of the resistance movement against Rome (in turn quite likely based on the life of one actual historical Jesus of Nazareth), and the Lukan reference to Lysanias of Abilene marks a level of Roman intervention much rather than a point in time.
🔼Etymology of the name Lysanias
The name Lysanias consists of two elements. The first part of our name comes from the verb λυω (luo), meaning to loose or unbind:
The second part of the name Lysanias comes from the noun αινα (aina), which is fairly common in the classics but simply not used in the New Testament. It means grief, distress or sorrow.
The name Lysanias is a regular word, although it's sparsely used. The poet Aristophanes (5th century BC) used it once in his play The Clouds, which poked fun at philosophical fads in Athens ("The Thinkery"), and particularly at Socrates, whose famous demise may have been helped along by Aristophanes' satire.
Our word λυσανιας occurs in a dialogue between a debt-stricken Strepsiades and Socrates, in a paragraph in which the former lavishly thanks the latter for instructing his son in the art of blather (and commercial gain because of it), which will thus "end the sadness of the great woes of his father" (line 1162). At home, Strepsiades' joy quickly withers when his son makes little money and much argument and begins to beat him for his own ignorance. The play ends with Strepsiades' armed assault on The Thinkery.
The name Lysanias denotes a dissolution of grief, and means in that sense: Ending Sorrow or The End Of Grief. However, it may very well be that the name was drawn directly from Aristophanes' comedy, in which case its satirical origin, and perhaps even its sad consequence, should be incorporated into the name's ultimate meaning. Most completely, the name Lysanias describes the deferred hope to grief's end, due to empty argumentation rather than a substantial change in life style.