Monthly Archives: October 2010

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν

This is the cool stuff I get to read in my Greek Hymnody course:

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἀγίας δόξης ἀθανάτου πατρὸς
οὐρανίου ἀγίου μάκαρος ‘Ιησοῦ Χριστέ,
ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλίου δύσιν
ἰδόντες φῶς ἐσπερινὸν
αἰνοῦμεν πατέρα καὶ υἱὸν καὶ ἅγιον πνεῦμα θεοῦ.
Ἄξιος εἶ εν πᾶσι καιροῖς ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναῖς ὁσίαις,
υἱὲ θεοῦ ζωὴν ὁ διδούς,
διὸ ὁ κόσμος σὲ δοξάξει.

Joyous light of the holy glory of the deathless
celestial, holy, blessed Father – Jesus Christ.
Those coming at the setting of the sun,
seeing the light in the evening,
we worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God (note: some texts read θεόν here).
Worthy are you to be praised in all time by hallowed voices,
Son of God the giver of life,
therefore the cosmos glorifies you.

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Peregrinatio Egeriae

We have been reading some passages out of the Peregrinatio Egeriae, the travel diary of a woman traveling through the holy land. I had some trouble with a few phrases and wanted to share what I found out:

11.3
“Facta est ergo iuxta consuetudinem ibi oratio….” – Thus a prayer was made there according to custom…

This is a typically Classical use of the word “iuxta” and it means “according to.” However, later in the same text, this appears:

“Multi autem ex ipsis monachis sanctis qui ibi commanebant iuxta aqua ipsa….” – Also many of those holy monks who lived near that water…

Not only is the constant use of ipse/ipsa/ipsum a little unClassical, but this use of ‘iuxta’ is. Instead of meaning ‘according to’, it is (perhaps) paired with the ablative here. I say “perhaps” because the only surviving manuscript of this text comes to us by way of the 11th century at which point the accusative and ablative had joined together, so “aquam ipsam” may have been written “aqua ipsa.”

12.1

Pervenimus ergo ad summitatem montis illius, ubi est nunc ecclesia non grandis; in ipsa summitate montis Nabau; intra quam ecclesiam, in eo loco ubi pulpitus est, vidi locum modice quasi altiorem, tantum hispatii; habentem quantum memoriae solent habere.

We had reached the summit of Mt Nebo where there is today a small Church at the summit of Mt. Nebo, in which Church, in the same place where the pulpit is, I saw a place slightly higher, having such space as graves are accustomed to having.

Odd point #1 – The typical Classical way of saying “the top of a mountain” is ‘summus mons’, not ‘ad summitatem montis.’

Odd point #2 – Betraying the influence of Romance languages on the text, Egeria describes the Church as ‘non grandis’ (not large) instead of using the typical Classical word : parvus.

Odd point #3 – Once again showing the influence of the developing Romance languages, the text reads “pulpitus” instead of the Classical word, which is neuter, and thus “pulpitum.”

Odd point #4 – “hispatii” – Try looking this one up in your Lewis and Short or your Cassell’s and tell me what you find. The answer: nothing! Why? This seems to be a case of prosthesis – the addition of morphemes without changing the meaning. Think of various Spanish (or French) words which have “s + consonant” in the beginning, and then see that they have vowels before them. Espana, Escribir, etc. This is ‘spatium’ in Latin with an ‘hi’ added to the front. Apparently Medieval folks liked putting h’s on things – thus the same text also reads ‘hostium ecclesiae’, which is not ‘of the enemies of the Church’ (hostis, hostis n.), but rather ostium ecclesiae, ‘the door of the Church’ (ostium, -i n).

So, you can see just how badly the Medievals messed up Latin. Someone give me a copy of Augustine – I need some real Latin.

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What is the value of Homer?

The significance of Homer’s works in Western literature’s corpus seems to be a given, something unquestioned and unquestionable. But I’ve been mulling this over in my head for awhile: what exactly is the value of Homer’s writings? This insightful article has pushed the question to the front of my mind.

I understand that Homer is the earliest extant piece of Greek literature and that a great deal of Western lit draws from him, but does his value extend beyond simply being the predecessor to a lot of literature? Are the values contained in Homer’s writings something we should internalize and live out? The same question could be posed for authors like Catullus or Archilochus – is there something in their writings which I can apply to my own life in order to live a better, more just life?

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Is the Reformation over?

Al Mohler asks the question on his website in light of yet another Episcopal priest entering into the Church.

He says that it isn’t and I say that it isn’t, but for two very different reasons. Mohler believes that as long as sola fide is preached, the Reformation is there. He says that:

But is the Reformation on its last gasp? Not where the Gospel is prized and preached. Not where a repudiation of justification by faith alone is known to be a repudiation of the Gospel itself — and to be a heresy that has lasted far more than 500 years.

The last point is confusing – as if 500 years of existence means an idea is no longer heretical. Can you imagine clerics of the 9th century saying, “Way to go Arianism, you made it!! Let’s drop this whole ὁμοούσιος business!”? I cannot. Secondly, the Reformation will continue as long as people believe they are their own hermeneutical authority. So long as people are fully convinced that they can, outside of the context of the historical community which Christ Himself founded, interpret the Scriptures rightly, the Reformation will continue.

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More ancient inhumation

The following is another little chunk out of my senior thesis. I had to add the citations because they didn’t carry over from my paper in Microsoft word. They were given as footnotes in my actual paper:

Although those involved with traditional Roman religions buried their dead, the Christian practice of burial became a point of contention between Christian apologists and their critics. In his Octavius, Minucius Felix has his imaginary interlocutor, Caecilius, critique the Christian rejection of cremation. Caecilius is convinced it is because of their belief in the resurrection, though he points out that even bodies buried in the ground are “reduced to dust” and are thus equally as unsuitable for resurrection. (Octavius, 11.4) Octavius, the defender of Christianity within Minucius’ dialogue, states that the resurrection is not predicated upon the condition of the body, but that the Christians simply practice the “old and better practice of burial.”(Ibid 38.10) The real reason Christians almost universally chose to bury instead of cremate the bodies of their deceased is that they inherited the custom from the Jews. Even Jews in the Diaspora buried, as Tacitus indicates along with pre-Christian Jewish catacombs in Rome and other cities throughout the Empire (Tacitus, Historia 5.5). Christian authors seem to give two explicit reasons to prefer burials over cremation, reasons which were certainly given to counter the reasons non-Christian Romans gave for burials. The first is that Jesus himself was buried and thus it was appropriate for Christians to be buried in like manner. The second reason was out of a respect for the “workmanship of God”, which Lactantius says is not worthy to “lie as prey for animals” but should instead be returned to the earth “from whence it came.”

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Is Augustine making a joke?

I think there’s a joke in Augustine’s Enarratio in Psalmum 52, but I may just be reading something into the text that isn’t there. After discussing the heading of the Psalm (IN FINEM, PRO MAELETH, INTELLECTUS IPSI DAVID), and etymologizing Maeleth to mean parturiens and dolitus, Augustine goes on to explain that it is Christ about whom the heading of the Psalm, and especially Pro Maeleth, speaks.

He then explains that it is through the members of the body of Christ that Christ Himself suffers here on earth (Christus hic parturit, Christus hic dolet) and then says what I think is the joke: caput est sursum, membra deorsum = the head is above, the members below. The joke of it is: Augustine is preaching thus far from the heading (caput) of a chapter of the Psalms and has yet to get into the body of the text (membra). It’s a lame joke if it’s a joke at all, but I think it’s there.

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Cyril of Jerusalem: Jonah and Christ

This is from Cyril’s “Catechism” and is an interesting point:

Τούτου τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν τὸν τύπον ἐτέλει ὁ προφήτης Ἰωνᾶς ἐκ κοιλίας κήτους προσευχόμενος καὶ λέγων ἐβόησα ἐν θλίψει μου, και ἑξῆς, ἐκ κοιλίας ᾅδου. καὶ μὴν ἐν τῷ κήτει ἧν.

ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ ᾅδῃ ἑαυτὸν εἶναι λέγει. τύπος γὰρ ἦν Χριστοῦ τοῦ μέλλοντος εἰς ᾅδην καταβαίνειν. καὶ μετ’ ὀλίγα φησὶν ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ Χριστοῦ λευκότατα προφητεύων· ἔδυ ἡ κεφαλή μου εἰς σχισμὰς ὀρέων. καὶ μὴν ἐν γαστρὶ κήτους ἦν.

The prophet Jonah fulfilled the type of our of savior, lifting up prayers from the belly of the sea-monster and saying, “I cried out in my affliction” and then, “out of the belly of Hades”, even though he was in the sea-monster.

And he says that he is himself in Hades. For this type was of Christ, the one about to descend into hades, and (I’m having a little trouble with this part) after a few things he spoke, prophesying the most plain things from the person of Christ (?): “My head is plunged into the cliffs of mountains” even though he was in the belly of the sea-monster.

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