🔼The name Olympas: Summary
- Unclear but perhaps Pertaining To Stored Surplus
- Unclear but perhaps from ολαι (olai), barley groats.
🔼The name Olympas in the Bible
The name Olympas occurs only once in the Bible, namely in Paul's list of "friends" whom he greets at the conclusion of his letter to the Romans (Romans 16:15). Since Christianity was deemed high treason against Rome (due to its perceived atheism, while worship of Rome's state deities was obligatory), it's unlikely that Paul would thoughtlessly publicize the real and traceable names of actual people.
instead, Paul most likely used code names for either individuals or else Christian sub-movements or very early Christian denominations, and may at times even subliminally refer to useful elements of Roman and Greek theologies.
The name Olympas obviously comes from Olympus, the actual mountain in Greece where Greek mythology situated its pantheon of Twelve Olympian Gods, headed by Zeus. The remarkable thing about these Twelve is that their idea is older than anything Greek or Roman, and all famous Olympian stories are later extrapolations of the original idea — the names and characters of the Twelve evolved over time, but they always stayed Twelve.
The number twelve is obviously also quite important in Hebrew and Christian writings: Jesus had twelve disciples, and Israel and Ishmael each consisted of twelve tribes. In Babylon of the first millennium BC, the number twelve was stuck to the heavens, as total number of star signs in the zodiac. All this indicates that the ancients had a global appreciation of the number twelve, but it's not clear where this original appreciation came from.
Here at Abarim Publications we're pretty sure that the ancients somehow had acquired knowledge about the most fundamental workings of the material universe and wrote this information into their stories. The family of arch-father Abraham (whose descendants would be "like the dust of the earth" — Genesis 13:16) is organized and develops almost exactly like the Standard Model of Elementary Particles, which is a model based on three groups of twelve members.
🔼Etymology of the name Olympas
It should be noted that the name Olympus was really a general name and was applied to the highest mountain in any area. Where the name Olympus and Olympas come from is not clear, and the many guesses that exist are really nothing more than that: guesses.
Some guess Olympus means sky, others say heaven, and more others say brilliant. Here at Abarim Publications we fear that guessers like that simply mistake any kind of theology with anything that has to do with things "up there" or else majesty and all that, but these guessers forget that the sense of the divine is much older than the sense of royalty and earthly majesty.
We surmise that the evolution of religion went hand in hand with a society's creation of surplus, which was stored in what would become temples (read our article on the Exodus for a much more detailed version of this theory). And since the earliest surpluses would have consisted of grain, we expect that this explains the obvious link between grain and early deities.
Grain was known for its bristly appearance, and sure enough, the Bible speaks of a mountain named Hairy, namely mount Seir, and even a Mount Barley, or Tel-abib. In other words, here at Abarim Publications we suspect that the name Olympus stems from the idea that a very high mountain is what a land gathers around, both geographically and socially. We suggest that the names Olympus and thus Olympas ultimately derive from ολαι (olai), meaning barley groats, helped along by the adjective ολοσ (olos), meaning whole, entire, complete. But that's just a guess.
The most obvious meaning of the name Olympas is As Olympus, or Good Enough To Be On Olympus, or something superlative like that, and Olympus may in this case also refer to the Olympic Games. But the name Olympus probably brought to mind the act of Gathering/Storage, rather than some lofty gloriousness or heavenliness.