Monday, April 27, 2009

Preserving idioms in translation... difficult. I had to translate some lines in Sophocles' Antigone and write a short commentary. Kreon, the newly-crowned tyrannical king, states that:

οὐδὲν γὰρ ἀνθρώποισιν οἷον ἄργυρος κακὸν νόμισμ' ἔβλαστε.

The play on words here is difficult to keep in translation. Kreon is making a pun on νόμισμα and I'm not quite sure how to maintain it.

How would you translate it?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Roger Pearse on Attis and Jesus

An interesting survey of the sources from antiquity concerning Attis and the lack of parallels with Jesus (despite the often made claims).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mark on Mark

Mark Goodacre has brought up a good discussion on Mark 15:39 and the soldier's statement:

37. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀφεὶς φωνὴν μεγάλην ἐξέπνευσεν. 38. Καὶ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ ἐσχίσθη εἰς δύο ἀπ' ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω. 39 Ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ κεντυρίων ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐξ ἐναντίας αὐτοῦ ὅτι οὕτως ἐξέπνευσεν εἶπεν, Ἀληθῶς οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος υἱὸς θεοῦ ἦν.

Dr. Goodacre has asked the question: is this really a confession or is it a sarcastic remark on the soldier's part? His commenters have already noted several instances of ironic and sarcastic remarks throughout the passion narrative (as have I here). The question posed by some has been whether it's either sarcastic or confessional and I want to say that it's both.

If Mark is written as "Gospel" and these gospels were inherently liturgical from the get-go, then I think it has a double meaning. Irony only works in favor of the reader/hearer, not against them. It brings the reader closer to the author's/text's viewpoint, even if it's against the person who spoke the words. The readers/hearers have the 'inside scoop'. So, even if the soldier's remark is sarcastic, when the text was read aloud in the liturgy and heard by the people, they knew that "surely this man was (is) the son of God".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Working as an Assistant

This semester I've had the pleasure of working as an assistant for our Intro to New Testament class. This experience has taught me a lot. While I'm preparing for my study session tomorrow night (the class has their final next week), I'm having to answer for myself the question: What do you do when you disagree with the professor teaching the class? Of course, in a class that's very broad and basic, I agree on most things. But, for instance, Markan priority has been assumed with Matthean priority not really addressed. I think Ehrman (the author of our textbook) is fundamentally mistaken on what "Apocalypticism" was in the 1st Century and a lot of the questions asked of the students have Ehrman's stance as their underlying premise.

I have a list of potential essay questions for the exam and there are a few that I think could be more nuanced. With some of them I disagree with the premise of the question entirely. So, what to do? Naturally, I want these kids to make good grades, but is it appropriate to note where I disagree and give them my reasons why?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tertullian and Eschatology

Considering a lot of modern Christians' view on eschatology, I found this quote by Tertullian interesting.

"We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation." (Apology 39)

Tertullian is being accused of treason by the Romans and he replies as such. What's interesting to me is praying for the "delay of the final consummation." I'm not going to try and explain Tertullian's eschatological viewpoint here, but I do find it interesting how often modern Christians are at odds with the ancients. For instance, a lot of American Christians seem to think the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem would fulfill God's promises, but the ancients thought that its destruction was a fulfillment of God's promises (which is why Julian tried to rebuild it). I have a lot of modern Evangelical friends who pray that Christ will return and bring about a "final consummation", and Tertullian discusses here asking God to delay it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just finished: Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views

While at Southeastern I was fortunate enough to get to attend a conference on the last twelve verses in Mark. Speakers included Daniel Wallace, David Alan Black, Maurice Robinson, J.K. Elliott, and Darrell Bock as the "moderator". Fortunately, B&H Academic has published their papers in a short book titled Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views.

I won't go into great detail about the papers, but I will say that I find a great deal of Elliott's argument very persuasive as well as Dr. Black's and Dr. Robinson's. That is to say, I suppose, the only argument I didn't find persuasive is Dr. Wallace's. Dr Wallace argues that the ending at 16:8 with the postpositive γαρ is original. Elliot notes that if this were some kind of clever device on Mark's part, a cliff-hanger, then it was entirely too clever for Mark's immediate audience. Already by Justin Martyr's time the longer ending seems to be known. Robinson also cites Larry Hurtado who shares the belief that if Mark ended with a γαρ it was so clever that nobody got it until modern scholarship came along.

I think a conglomeration of the three views I find persuasive could work. One thing I'm thinking about is Elliott's proposal that a leaf was lost (a leaf perhaps containg Mk 1:1-3 as well, though Elliott admits the leaves could have been lost at different times). Lets say that Mark published a Gospel that did not end at 16:8 and then due to either scribal error (which Elliott finds unlikely) or due to a leaf being lost, the LE found its way into the manuscript witness. It would have to have happened extremely early, I think, in order for both Justin Martyr and Origen to know of the LE. The manuscript(s) containing the LE would have had to have found their way, or served as exemplars for manuscripts which found their way, into both Judea (where Justin was) and Alexandria (where Origen was) within a very short amount of time.

Another issue I thought about is the Patristic witness of the LE. Unless one of the Fathers wrote a commentary or worked their way through a lectionary, how would you know that a Church Father only knew up to 16:8?