Monthly Archives: January 2010

Nota Bene

I was reading an article today for class and I found an abbreviation after incomplete Greek quotes: κτλ. My guess was that it was something equivalent to the Latin et cetera, but I wasn’t sure. Thanks to the interwebs, I found a post by Mike Aubrey over at εν εφεσω where he clears it up. Indeed, κτλ stands for και τα λοιπα (and the remaining).

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Evangelicals and the Early Church

Ben Blackwell has posted a link to a conference being held at Wheaton concerning Evangelicals and the Church Fathers. Wheaton has started an early Christian studies program recently, a testament to the ongoing interest in the Fathers on the part of Evangelicals. However, this is not the case everywhere. In my own experience in an Evangelical institution, the Fathers were glossed over. Augustine was often recast as a proto-Calvinist, but he was basically the only one who got any mention (I was shocked to hear that the ‘greatest preachers in the Church’s history’ all came from the 19th and 20th century – no mention of Chrysostom, of course).  There was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding over the early Church’s beliefs. For instance, I had a professor wrongly tell us that the Church didn’t believe in the real presence until the early Medieval period when Paschasius Radbertus wrote his book advocating the belief in transubstantiation. This also betrays a misunderstanding of our Eastern brethren  (about whom Evangelicals tend to know very little) – how would this Western Benedictine abbot have influenced their theology? I’ve told people, tongue in cheek, that I’ve considered becoming EO just so I can get away from all the hate mail I’ve received over my becoming Catholic. Romophobia is alive and well, but I’ve never heard of Constantinopolophobia!

I will say that things on the whole are looking up. Robert Louis Wilken noted that most of the students who came to UVA to study the early Church with him were Evangelicals. There are efforts now to bring the wisdom of the early Church into the evangelical tradition such as IVP’s Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series. I’m all for it.  I think the way the early Church read Scripture is preferable to what goes on today and I hope modern exegetes will take into consideration the wisdom of the past.

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Word to your mother

In book I of the Aeneid,  Jupiter answers his daughter’s complaints about the unfair treatment of the Trojans. Speaking of Romulus and Remus (descendants of Aeneas), he says that Romulus,” rejoicing in the tawny hide of his nursemaid, a she-wolf, will build walls…” yada yada (Inde lupae fulvo nutricis tegmine laetus …).

A lot of people are aware of the story of Romulus and Remus being raised by a wolf. In fact, the Victorians added the two children under this Etruscan-era bronze statue of a wolf because of the story (it was probably just an apotropaic figure). However, I learned today that there is a rival narrative. Romulus and Remus may have been raised by a lupa – but that word doesn’t only mean ‘she-wolf’, it also means a lady of the night – a prostitute! I had no clue until class today when my professor told me that the word has both me

anings.

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Thinking of getting a Hebrew or Greek Tattoo?

Here’s a great link on bad Hebrew tattoos. I occasionally get emails from people asking me to check their Greek or Hebrew tattoos. For one, my Hebrew sucks, so I never offer any advice in that realm. I also get people asking me for advice about Greek – though I’m confident enough to read Homer, I still don’t know that I’m the person you want to talk to about your Greek tattoo. I have one myself (with some Greek from the NT), but I 1) thought about the tattoo for well over 3 years and 2) I checked the Greek about a bazillion times. In fact, I’d strongly advise you not to get a tattoo in a language you don’t know yourself (that’s kind of poseur-ish, isn’t it?).

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How did they get here?

This is one of the strangest search strings I’ve ever seen lead to my site:

picture of black fathers their and son

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Lochlan Shelfer on the paraclete

As already mentioned on Stephen Carlson’s blog, there’s an article in JSNT from last December that is interesting and exceptional. A graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University in Classics has written on the Greco-Roman usage of the word παρακλητος and how that sheds light on the New Testament’s use of the word. If you want to read it, here’s the citation: Lochlan Shelfer, “The Legal Precision of the Term ‘παρακλητος’,” JSNT 32 (2009): 131-150.

This article is an inspiration as it’s one of the reasons I’m applying to Classics programs to do graduate work. I think a lot of interesting light can be shed on the NT by Classics.

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Was Herodotus a homosexual?

Herodotus is an interesting figure, though I think the reception of his work is far more interesting. At any rate, Photius of Constantinople records in his Bibliotheca (190) that the opening lines of the Histories are not from Herodotus himself, but rather from “Plesirrhous the Thessalian, author of hymns, was loved by Herodotus and was his heir; it is he who composed the introduction of the first book of Herodotus of Halicarnassus.” In my class today on Herodotus and the Persian Wars (taught by Peter Green), he noted that the mention of Plesirrhous as a Thessalian hymnographer is so detailed that it makes little sense that this would be made up whole cloth. Likewise, it’s interesting that Herodotus is so curious about sex, and particularly women, but not a single mention of homosexual relations of any kind.

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I’m giving a brief talk at the Classics faculty meeting in a few weeks

Every year the seniors in Classics are invited to a faculty meeting to give a brief overview of their senior thesis. It’s not evaluative (or so I’m told), but rather just a time where we can come together and chat. It will also be a good time to discuss some of the obstacles I’m coming up against and see if there are any sources I’m overlooking.

My thesis is focusing on Christian and pagan burial practices in the late antique (I’m trying to restrict myself to the 1st-5th centuries). I have three main divisions:

I. Sacred Spaces
Here’s where I’ll talk about architecture of the catacombs, the art, etc. I’m also going to discuss how Christian funerary practices changed in the 4th and following centuries.
II. Rituals
Both immediately after death and the days, months, and years thereafter.
III. Heroes and Martyrs
I’m pretty fascinated by the cult of the saints and how in some ways the martyr (and later holy man) took over the role of hero, but also how old categories were given new meaning (what is ‘honor’ to an early Christian?).

Some issues I’m running into:
1) There’s just not a lot of primary source info on funerary practices. I guess it’s a pretty dark subject that nobody wanted to write about.
2) It’s not always clear which grave is ‘Christian’ and which is ‘Pagan’ – there’s a lot of mixing that went on. Symbols and art that were traditionally pagan were adopted and reinterpreted in light of Christian thought.
3) Texts often give us idealized views – although a Bishop from the 5th century may say that Christians and pagans shouldn’t be buried together, we find exactly that all the time.

If you have any advice or sources, I am all ears.

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Cyclopes, Eyebrows, and other trivial things

I posted a bit ago concerning line 389 in Book IX of the Odyssey and its use of the word οφρυας (eyebrows) in regards to the cyclops Polyphemus. A commenter (by the name of Hypatia) noted that Polyphemus is not said to have one eye and that that the word “Cyclops” really only means “orb-eyed”. I was reading through Hesiod’s Theogony and noticed this in line 143:

μοῦνος δ’ όφθαλμὸς μέσσῳ ἐνέκειτο μετώπῳ (a single eye was placed in the middle of the forehead).

At first I thought this answered Hypatia’s question. But Hesiod’s cyclopes are not even the same as Homer’s. Homer’s cyclopes are the children of Poseidon and “οὐ γὰρ Κύκλωπες Διὸς αἰγιόχου ἀλέγουσιν οὐδὲ θεῶν μακάρων” (for the Cyclopes care not for Aegis-Holding Zeus nor the blessed gods). The cyclopes of Hesiod are the children of Earth and Heaven and aid Zeus in his overthrowing of Chronos.

Despite this, I still think Polyphemus is probably in line with the archetypal cyclops. In an article by Justin Glenn, he discusses the fact that Homer is drawing on archetypal stories involving ogres and cyclopes. (cf. “The Polyphemus Folktale and Homer’s Kyklopeia,” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol 102 (1971): 133-181.) So I’m back to square one. The only reason I can figure Homer used οφρυας is meter – and that just seems like a lame reason.

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I’m back

I’ve dusted off the blog and decided to return to blogging. I had such a busy semester that I really didn’t have any time to blog last semester. This semester won’t be any better, but I’ll do what I can.

Some updates:
– I’m finishing up at ECU this May. I’m glad that I’m finally at this point and I can hopefully look forward to graduate studies.
– I’ve applied to the following programs for grad school:
1) Duke (Ph.D Classical Studies)
2) Iowa (Ph.D Classics)
3) Catholic University of America (Ph.D Early Christian Studies)
4) Notre Dame (MA Early Christian Studies)
5) Florida State (MA Religions of Western Antiquity)
6) Fordham (MA Historical Theology)

– I’m finishing my senior thesis on Christian and “pagan” (I have to figure out a better word to use here) funerary practices in the Late Antique. I’ll be blogging about this in the near future.

-I’m reading a ton of Greek lyric poetry for one Greek class (as well as some philosophy and eventually Herodotus at the end), and translating as much of the Agamemnon as I can for another. I’m also doing Virgil in one Latin class and Augustan age literature in another.

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