🔼The name Artemis: Summary
- Unclear but perhaps Security, Healer
- From αρταμης (artames), safe and sound, or αρταμια (artemia), soundness or recovery.
🔼The name Artemis in the Bible
Artemis of Ephesus was a local goddess, derived of the much larger general Artemis cult of Asia Minor, which in turn was the equivalent of the Roman cult of Diana. Her effigy was famously endowed with a myriad of bulbs, which enthusiastic but not very well informed early Christian reformers interpreted as breasts or even testicles, attesting to Artemis' patronage of fertility. Modern scholars have been able to relate these bulbs to elaborate but regular jewelry which served to ornament and not to represent fertility.
Artemis is mentioned in Acts 19:23, where a silversmith named Demetrius made a handsome living from creating little Artemis souvenirs for tourists. When Paul evangelized to the Ephesians, Demetrius feared inflation of his trade and instigated an uproar. Paul's travel companions Gaius and Aristarchus were nearly lynched by the mob, and the evasive gestures of a Jew named Alexander — who had nothing to do with Paul's mission — caused the crowd to erupt in a single outcry, "Great is Artemis of Ephesus!" which lasted for two hours.
Artemis of Ephesus should be regarded as somewhat separate from the general Artemis cult because this one came with an image that had fallen from the sky (Acts 19:35). Some scholars nowadays assume that this item was a meteorite, but that's by no means certain. The whole phrase "fallen from the sky" is an interpretation of the word διοπετης (diopetes), which consists of Dios (the genitive of Zeus) and the verb πιπτω (pipto), meaning to fall.
Since the word Dios may indeed come from the same root as the Latin diem, meaning day or daylight-sky, the image may have been a meteorite, but it may also have been an item (perhaps a mechanism?) somehow derived from the core definition of Zeus. How that would work is not immediately clear, but the idea of a God-derived image is obviously not foreign to the Bible (Genesis 1:27, Colossians 1:15).
The name Artemis occurs 5 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Artemis
Some insist that the name Artemis stems from deep antiquity and means something utterly obscured to modern readers, even readers of 2000 years ago. To any Greek, the name Artemis would have surely sounded as if it came from the word αρταμης (artames), meaning safe and sound (according to Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon). An obviously related word is αρταμια (artemia), meaning soundness or recovery.
A curiously similar word is αρταμισια (artemissia), meaning wormwood, or more accurately Artemisia arborescens (which is not the species of wormwood referred to by John the Revelator in Revelation 8:11, which is apsinthos). An even more curious word is αρταμος (artamos), meaning butcher. How the word for butcher and the word for safety have come to look so similar is unknown. Liddell and Scot deem any etymology uncertain. On the other hand, Artemis is spelled with an epsilon in the middle, and artamos with an alpha. That's a difference big enough to disregard a possible etymological association.
Since Artemis was venerated as the source of all things, she was probably not seen as a butcher, but rather as a Healer or as Security.