EPONYM: The personage assumed in folk-lore and early history as the ancestor of a clan or race or as the founder of a state or city. The term is a loan-word (Gk. epōnymos, "given as a name"), and is much used in modern investigations into the origins of society. It embodies concisely the results of those investigations so far as they involve that the alleged ancestors or founders were fictitious creations formed in the late mythopeic period in response to inquiry into beginnings by the peoples concerned. Thus its use implies that when it was forgotten what were the origins of the Ionians, Eolians, and Acheans, of the Italian peoples and of Rome, Ion, Æolus and Achæus, Italus and Romulus were put forward to account for the names of the tribes, peoples and city, though modern research has seemed to prove that they had no real existence as persons. While the term eponym and the conclusions of research it expresses have long been commonplaces in secular history, only comparatively recently have they been applied to Biblical history. Here the critical school alone has applied the term and the idea, e.g., to the patriarchs assigned as progenitors of the Hebrew race and of the several tribes. Thus Heber is regarded as an eponym accounting for the Hebrew people, and the same is true of Jacob and Israel and of his twelve sons. The grounds adduced for thus applying the method are various. In general, it is assumed that what is taken as proved for non-Biblical races applies with equal force to the peoples named in the Bible, especially in view of the strong tendency manifest there to etymologize in explaining the names. In particular, the appearance both in Egyptian and in cuneiform documents of such names as Yaḳob-el "Jacob is god," Yoseph-el "Joseph is god," the occurrence of such names as Gad and Asher as god-names in non-Hebraic sources, and many similar phenomena have been made the basis for extending to Biblical names the principles of explanation regarded as fixed and satisfactory in secular lines of investigation. It hardly needs to be said that the traditional or conservative school of Biblical interpretation repudiates the methods and the results involved
GEO. W. GILMORE.