Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: βδεω

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/b/b-d-e-om.html


Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The verb βδεω (bdeo) means to fart, but in the sense of producing a foul or offensive smell, and that in cowardly stealth. Blatantly shaking the darling buds of May by producing a sudden jet of gas (or making the merry sound of it) is covered by the more comedic verb φυσαω (phusao).

Our verb βδεω (bdeo) is thought to be part of a widely attested Proto-Indo-European root "pesd-", to fart quietly. This root, rather remarkably, comes with a twin PIE root, namely "perd-", to fart loudly (whence the English "fart"), which demonstrates that the ancient Europeans regarded the art of flatulence with the same concern for clarifying detail as Eskimos do snow.

These two PIE roots, furthermore, are generally considered onomatopoeic, but that perhaps warrants the observation that a silent fart has little sound to imitate. And that suggests, at least to us here at Abarim Publications, that "pesd-" was instead artificially constructed from the indeed onomatopoeic "perd-". Our verb βδεω (bdeo) is then thought to have silenced the root even further by also dropping the 's', perhaps emphasizing the insidious nature of the silent stinker. Here at Abarim Publications we further suspect that our verb may even have formed from a proximity to the Semitic formation בדומה (beduma), or "in the silence of death", also because דמם (damam), to be still, relates to the word אדם ('adam), primitive or rude.

Jest aside, our verb βδεω (bdeo) expresses the introduction of something disturbing or even sickening but by a deliberately anonymous author. It's the malignant counterpart of an openly expressed folly, for which the obvious author apologizes, and which evokes laughter and perhaps a friendly correction (and an open window). The foulness of a silent fart is its anonymity. Such a fart is secretly introduced into a community, where it spreads widely before it seeps into the unsuspecting noses of everybody present and spawns revolt, accusations, denial and alienation.

The Bible very often compares the process of learning with the process of eating, chewing, swallowing and digesting (noun שן, shen, means tooth and stems from the verb שנן, shanan, to sharpen, and particularly one's mind: to learn). Food provides fuel and building materials to the body and that which cannot be used is excreted. Likewise, the mind functions and is maintained and built up from information that has been absorbed via the ears through what one hears and the eyes through what one sees and reads. But what cannot be incorporated into our living minds is "forgotten" or rather more precise, not even actually processed but passed on and "out" of our minds.

Apparently, the Greeks were aware of this sort of mental selection, and realized with calm clarity that some of the rejected matter could come back to haunt a person, and also that person's direct companions. Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that such a mental "fart" has to do with the tendency of some to mock a thing they have observed and considered but then rejected. In civilized society, suck mockery is of course considered rather base (because progress and virtue come from positive selection and lavishing praise upon the accepted, rather than negative selection and piling derision upon the rejected: Philippians 4:8). The mental equivalent of the silent fart, however, is much more pernicious, and covers the dark ability of some to fill the minds of fellows with rejection and derision without openly revealing that such a vile process is indeed in progress.

From our verb βδεω (bdeo) comes the (unused) verb βδυλλω (bdullo), which rather specifically means to fart from fear. This verb obviously confirms that derision most commonly stems from one's own fears, but unfortunately there are many ways to quietly spread cowardice.

The single most repeated command in the Bible is to have no fear (Genesis 15:1, 1 John 4:18, Revelation 1:17). This is not, as some commentators appear to think, an injunction to forego vigilance and suppress proper discernment, but rather to organize one's life in such a way that fear is not a part of it. The idea is to develop wisdom and maturity, organize communities and pool resources, create pacts with neighboring communities and forge decentralized empires. The lack of all that results in upset bowels. The smell of fear is the smell of fart and that's the smell of someone whose intake exceeds the capacities of his digestive abilities, which means that he can't even handle the realities of his own household (Genesis 34:30, Exodus 5:21, Joel 2:20).

Besides fear, excessive flatulence is most often caused by an upset or poorly functioning microbiome, i.e. the vast colonies of bacteria and fungi residing in healthy guts. The body of a mammal consists of trillions of cells, which all have the same genetic code. It's safe to say that the singular "soul" of such a creature is in fact the accumulated effect of all the tiny cellular souls (like individual singers of a huge choir that all sing from the same music sheet). The microbiome consists of creatures that have a completely different genetic code, and are thus not immediately part of the greater choir that is the animal's singular soul. But this secondary choir does have a great effect on the mood of the larger beast. And the secondary choir is crucially important to the digestive process of the beast. Like a big animal, every society benefits greatly from the presence of itinerant aliens that animate the native markets. This helps to explain the Bible's insistence to preserve and protect alien populations within native "gates" (Exodus 12:49, Deuteronomy 5:14). See for more on this our article on θηριον (therion), beast.

Our verb βδεω (bdeo), to quietly fart, is not used independently in the New Testament, but from it come:

  • The verb βδελυσσω (bdelusso), meaning to "fartify", to call fart: to suddenly become fearfully aware of something atrocious, particularly anonymously dispensed (Romans 2:22 and Revelation 21:8 only). From this verb in turn come:
    • The noun βδελυγμα (bdelugma), meaning "fartification": anything repulsive but particularly an anonymously deposited whiff of fear and loathing caused by a sickly or incomplete digestive process. The "abomination of desolation" spoken of by Daniel (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15) speaks of the societal equivalent of an impaired microbiome: vast flatulence caused by a lack of "aliens" in one's native gates. In the former century, Europe suffered the destruction of much of its resident aliens, which helps to explain Europe's more recent intellectual flatulence and inability to properly digest information. This noun occurs 6 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
    • The adjective βδελυκτος (bdeluktos), meaning "fartiferous": pertaining to an anonymously deposited whiff of fear and loathing caused by a sickly or incomplete digestive process (Titus 1:16 only).