Monthly Archives: April 2010

An awesome imprecatory prayer in Homer

In Book III (288-301)of the Iliad, the Trojans and Achaeans pray an imprecatory prayer against one who might break an oath being sworn between them while pouring out wine on the ground:

Ζεῦ κύδιστε μέγιστε, καὶ ἀθάνατοι θεοὶ ἄλλοι, ὁππότεροι πρότεροι ὑπὲρ ὅρκια πημήνειαν, ὧδέ σφ’ ἐγκέφαλος χαμάδις ῥέοι ὡς ὅδε οἶνος, αὐτῶν καὶ τεκέων, ἀλοχοι δ’ ἄλλοισι δαμεῖεν.

Zeus, most glorious and greatest, and all the other deathless gods – whichever of the two might first cause harm to the oath, may their brain flow onto the ground as this wine, both theirs and their children’s, and may their wives be conquered by others.

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Am I doing it right?

I am memorizing some lines from Vergil’s Aeneid for a Latin class. I had to do this a couple of semesters ago for a Greek class for which I memorized lines from Sophocles’ Antigone. When I set out to memorize lines like this, regardless of the language, I do something that I think might be a little odd. I’ll explain using the first ten lines of the Aeneid. They are:

Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit
litora, multum ille et terris jactatus et alto
vi superum, saevae memorem Junonis ob iram
multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urbem
inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum
albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae.
Musa, mihi causas memora, quo numine laeso
quidve dolens regina deum tot volvere casus
insignem pietate virum, tot adire labores
impulerit. Tantaene animis caelestibus irae?

I’ve highlighted the first letter of each sentence because the first thing I do is isolate these. Thus we have A I L V M I A M Q I I. I then write the letters down the margin of a page and I come up with a sentence for this. The more I can provide a back story in my mind about the sentence, the easier it will stick. So, I came up with a scene in my head of a woman leaving her husband for another man. She says to him, “Alfred, I Love Victor. My Intentions Are Many. Quiet! I’m Irked.”

I memorize this sentence and it helps me memorize the order of the letters, which helps me to remember the first word in each line of the poem. Then I just write the first letters down the margin and fill in the poem as best I can over and over and over until I absolutely have it.

Does anyone else do anything weird like this?

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Misogyny in Herodotus

These are a couple of passages in Book I of Herodotus’ Histories that I found to be really shocking. The first one is kind of funny. It comes from Gyges explanation to Kandaules that he does not want to see Kandaules’ wife naked.

ἅμα δὲ κιθῶνι ἐκδυομένῳ συνεκδύεται καὶ τὴν αἰδῶ γυνή. (I.8.3)

“While removing her clothes a woman also removes her shame.”

The second one is disturbing. After explaining that although the Persians think it’s an evil thing for a man to rape a woman, they think it’s the work of foolish men to carry on about the women who were taken captive. Then Herodotus says:

δῆλα γὰρ δὴ ὅτι, εἰ μὴ αὐταὶ ἐβούλοντο, οὐκ ἄν ἡρπάζοντο.

“For plainly if the women did not wish it, they would not be snatched. “(I.4.2)

Oh antiquity…..

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Inside Higher Ed’s article on Bruce Waltke’s Firing

The article can be found here. A quote allegedly in the video by Waltke is rational and should be listened to by the Evangelical community:

“If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult … some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness…”

There is a great deal of misinformation concerning evolutionary theories out there in these schools. When I was at Southeastern I took a class titled ‘Natural Science’ which should have been titled ‘An Apologetics Course for Young Earth Creationism.’  The professor who taught that course (who no longer teaches at SEBTS, as I understand) said that nobody before the Enlightenment had denied a literal 6 day creation,  but I knew he was wrong. I had fortunately been reading the Fathers that year and knew that both Origen and Augustine addressed the issue, Augustine more so than Origen. Origen had even asked “what man of sense” would believe in a literal 6 day creation? I wonder what the theological implications of denying the reality of Creation are. If we bury our heads in the sand and deny the fruits of scientific research, which, from my limited understanding of them, have only aided in my own faith, what sort of effect will it have on our theology?

When the conspiracy theories about scientists leave these campuses, they will be be better off. I promise, if any scientist could definitively disprove evolution (which would be a bit like disproving gravity at this point), they would do so in a heartbeat.  I pray that Dr. Waltke will be able to find an academic home that will allow him a bit more freedom.

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Matthew Fox to speak at ECU….but why?

I received this in an email:

I am pleased to announced that we have just booked Matthew Fox for the next Jarvis Lecture on Christianity and Culture. Controversial, stimulating, and widely respected by many, Matthew Fox has offered a steady critique of religion and culture for several decades. Some of Fox’s writings on original sin put him in conflict with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Roman Catholic office charged with safeguarding Catholic doctrine. Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), prohibited Fox from teaching. Fox was eventually removed from his Dominican order. He is now an Episcopal priest. He continues to write and lecture on a wide range of topics under the general theme of “creation spirituality” and “original blessing.” He will speak on November 9, 2010 in Wright Auditorium with the topic “Reinventing Christianity.” In the coming months, I will provide more information about his life and writings.

The question I have to ask is: Why? Why are we having Matthew Fox show up to speak? Fox is controversial only in the same sense that Kent Hovind (“Dr. Dino“) is. They both say ridiculous and stupid things about that which they haven’t a clue. My entire senior religion seminar has been on Matthew Fox, so I’ve read several of his books – they’re all filled with historical inaccuracies, misquotes of historical persons, and outright lies. Here’s one from his most recent The Hidden Spirituality of Men, “The early Christians were very aware of astrological metaphors…IXTHOS (sic), the Greek word for ‘fish,’ became an acronym for ‘Jesus Christ Son of God.’ This symbol was scratched on many walls in the catacombs where Christians hid to perform their memory rituals and to bury their dead.” (p 249-250). He misspells ΙΧΘΥΣ, doesn’t get the acronym correct,  assigns ‘astrological meaning’ to it (?), and then says the Christians ‘hid’ in the catacombs. Which catacombs? The ones outside of Rome, prior to the peace of Constantine, had signs outside of them warning the Christians not to go in, on top of the fact that the catacombs are rather dark, musty, and cramped spaces…seems like a bad hiding spot.  And what are memory rituals?!

When I was at Notre Dame and I ashamedly told some of the professors what my senior religion seminar was on, they all (literally all) gave me a weird look and just said…”But why?” Exactly! We would have been better served having spent the semester reading Augustine rather than someone who complains about Augustine in almost every book (he assigns blame to Augustine for anything in Western culture he doesn’t like, from original sin to Descartes). So for ECU to invite him to a lecture series that has included people like Walter Brueggemann, Marcus Borg, etc, seems a little odd.

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Take Intro to New Testament with Dale Martin at Yale…for free.

Because of a video over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, I started digging around for some free courses online that pertain to the New Testament and Early Christianity. Lo and behold, I found Dale Martin’s “Introduction to New Testament History and Literature” online. You can watch all the videos for free here.

Edit: Also, I found Donald Kagan’s “Introduction to Ancient Greek History.” If you aren’t familiar with Kagan, his 4 volume work on the Peloponnesian War is one of the greatest works of Classical scholarship.

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Brant Pitre and the hour of Jesus’ death

First, I have to say, if you aren’t reading The Sacred Page, you’re doing yourself a big disservice. Barber, Bergsma, and Pitre are all incredibly intelligent Biblical scholars with a knack for wading through nonsense and getting down to good scholarship. I see these guys as a sign that all hope is not lost in Biblical studies.

Here’s Pitre’s post on the significance of the hour of Jesus’ death. It is an awesome post.

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