September 3, 2016
Dictionnaire de la Bible
Edited by F. Vigouroux, with the collaboration of many scholars. Published in 39 fascicles between 1895 and 1912, and brought together into eleven separate volumes in 1912 (each of the five “tomes” of the work takes up at least two physical volumes).
July 20, 2012
Looking through an old notebook last night, I found some brief notes which I jotted down during an ordination on April 12, 1998 (Palm Sunday) in the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Tirana, Albania; I thought I would share them here. The man being ordained to the priesthood was Deacon Llazar Çullai; the speaker was Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana. The epistle reading on which the Archbishop was commenting was, apparently, Philippians 4: 4-9. I must assume that His Beatitude was speaking in Greek or Albanian, and that I was translating on the spot.
- Rejoice in the Lord always. This applies to all Christians, but especially to the priests. This joy is something he has to transmit to others. Seek to be a kind person. A harsh priest causes the faithful to depart. He cannot, in this manner, represent the God of love.
- Do everything with prayer. A priest should be a man of continual prayer. Not only with his lips, but with his heart. Both in our troubles, and in our joys, we should pray.
- We continually hear the word “peace” in the liturgy. A priest should seek to be a man of peace. In times like these we need to show ourselves as people of peace.
- The Lord is near. The priest has to know this always. Another meaning: The Lord is coming. In his second coming, in which he will judge us. In a few minutes you will be ordained. You will be bearing the body of Christ in your hands. Recognize that you will be judged according to how you fulfil this calling.
May 20, 2011
As many readers of this blog may already have heard, tomorrow, according to Family Radio (an Evangelical Christian radio network based in Oakland, California), is the end of the world. Or, more precisely, tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is predicted to be the date of Jesus’ Second Coming and the Rapture; the end of the world is not supposed to occur until October. These predictions, by 89-year-old Harold Camping, founder and president of Family Radio, have been broadcast repeatedly over Family Radio’s many stations, in this country and elsewhere, for many months now, and apparently the message is having an effect upon some people; one hears of anticipatory gatherings taking place in New York subway stations…. For myself, I intend to spend the day doing nothing extraordinary; I will be driving out to Long Island later today and, God willing, will celebrate my 52nd birthday on Sunday. I have heard enough of Mr. Camping to know that, on many points of theology and exegesis, he is simply wrong (e.g., his frequent claim that the Greek verb βαπτίζω means “sprinkle”); moreover, in the early 1990’s, he predicted that the end of the world would occur in the year 1994, which clearly did not happen. One might have thought that, after that, Camping’s followers would have inferred that he is a false prophet, and that his end-of-the-world predictions are not to be trusted; but, apparently, ownership of the means of mass communication is a great help for getting one’s opinions across.
What chiefly troubles me about these matters is that, for many people in America, Harold Camping is Christianity’s public voice; in the New York metropolitan area, Family Radio is one of the few radio stations broadcasting Christian content, and the same thing holds true throughout much of the urban Northeast. This, in spite of the fact that Camping now has no formal church affiliation — or, perhaps, that lack of church affiliation facilitates the spreading of his message: his radio station is his church. The likely effect of the likely non-occurrence of tomorrow’s predicted Rapture is a further discrediting of Christianity in the public eye. But perhaps it will cause some Christians to look elsewhere than Family Radio for a true understanding of the Gospel; one can only hope so.
January 12, 2011
A comparison between Bible-reading and gardening. From St. John Chrysostom, Homilia de capto Eutropio et de divitiarum vanitate, §1, PG 52, 396-397.
|Sweet is a meadow and a garden, but much sweeter the reading of the divine Scriptures. For, there, there are flowers that fade, whereas here there are thoughts at their full peak; there, a blowing zephyr, but here the breeze of the Spirit; there, thorns which serve as a hedge, but, here, God’s Providence supplying protection; there, grasshoppers chirp, but here prophets cry aloud; there, there is pleasure from the sight, but here there is profit from the reading. A garden exists in one place, while the Scriptures are to be found in all the world. A garden is subject to necessary, seasonal cares, but the Scriptures, both in winter and in summer, are thick with leaves and laden with fruits. Let us therefore have a care for reading the Scriptures; for, if you pay attention to Scripture, it casts out your low spirits, it implants your enjoyment, it destroys evil, it roots in virtue, it does not leave you adrift in confusion because of business, like people tossed about by the waves at sea. The sea rages, but you sail in peace, for you have as your helmsman the reading of the Scriptures. For the trials that come from much business do not snap this cable.||Ἡδὺς μὲν λειμὼν καὶ παράδεισος, πολὺ δὲ ἡδύτερον τῶν θείων Γραφῶν ἡ ἀνάγνωσις. Ἐκεῖ μὲν γάρ ἐστιν ἄνθη μαραινόμενα, ἐνταῦθα δὲ νοήματα ἀκμάζοντα· ἐκεῖ ζέφυρος πνέων, ἐνταῦθα δὲ Πνεύματος αὔρα· ἐκεῖ ἄκανθαι αἱ τειχίζουσαι, ἐνταῦθα δὲ πρόνοια Θεοῦ ἡ ἀσφαλιζομένη· ἐκεῖ τέττιγες ᾄδοντες, ἐνταῦθα δὲ προφῆται κελαδοῦντες· ἐκεῖ τέρψις ἀπὸ τῆς ὄψεως, ἐνταῦθα δὲ ὠφέλεια ἀπὸ τῆς ἀναγνώσεως. Ὁ παράδεισος ἐν ἑνὶ χωρίῳ, αἱ δὲ Γραφαὶ πανταχοῦ τῆς οἰκουμένης· ὁ παράδεισος δουλεύει καιρῶν ἀνάγκαις, αἱ δὲ Γραφαὶ καὶ ἐν χειμῶνι καὶ ἐν θέρει κομῶσι τοῖς φύλλοις, βρίθουσι τοῖς καρποῖς. Προσέχωμεν τοίνυν τῇ τῶν Γραφῶν ἀναγνώσει· ἐὰν γὰρ τῇ Γραφῇ προσέχῃς, ἐκβάλλει σου τὴν ἀθυμίαν, φυτεύει σου τὴν ἡδονὴν, ἀναιρεῖ τὴν κακίαν, ῥιζοῖ τὴν ἀρετὴν, οὐκ ἀφίησιν ἐν θορύβῳ πραγμάτων τὰ τῶν κλυδωνιζομένων πάσχειν. Ἡ θάλασσα μαίνεται, σὺ δὲ μετὰ γαλήνης πλέεις· ἔχεις γὰρ κυβερνήτην τῶν Γραφῶν τὴν ἀνάγνωσιν· τοῦτο γὰρ τὸ σχοινίον οὐ διαρρήγνυσι τῶν πραγμάτων ὁ πειρασμός.|
December 25, 2010
Earlier this year, I began making available on this blog digital recordings of the New Testament, read chapter by chapter in the original Greek (links to them are found on the page titled The New Testament read in Greek.) As of today, Christmas Day 2010, these recordings are finished; I added the Gospel of John to the page early this morning. Those who wish may now download, gratis, a complete recording of the Greek New Testament.
Wishing all readers of this blog a Merry Christmas.
Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ!
December 7, 2010
It is getting towards the end of the semester, and, as might be expected, books sit poised in precarious piles on my kitchen table, and there is a stack of students’ papers that needs to be attended to, though my aging body tells me to sleep. When I am able to summon up the willpower, I do attend to them. Not surprisingly, those papers that are most poorly written take the longest to read, and are the hardest to evaluate — for example, although it seems clear that so-and-so actually found an essay written by someone else in another language and applied Google Translate to it and handed me the results as though it were her own work, and, even so, didn’t really follow the assignment, nevertheless, I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt and give her a C for this paper; particularly since her grade for the semester is already close to failing, and I don’t feel like pushing her over the edge.
Today’s class was a particularly difficult one to teach, but I think I got through it okay. We are at the point of talking about Islam. It is a subject upon which I have very mixed feelings. Having spent last Wednesday talking about Muhammad and his personal history, I spent today talking about the origins of the caliphate, and the phenomenal early growth of the Islamic empire that, within a century of the death of Muhammad, spread from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indus Valley. The question was inevitably raised, whether Islam is a religion of the sword. The textbook we are using, Mary Pat Fisher’s Living Religions, states categorically that it is not. I tried to point out that the question is not so simple, that there are different passages in the Koran that lead different Muslims to interpret their own religion in different ways; one passage (Sura 2:256) states: “There is no compulsion in religion”; another, later passage (Sura 9:29) commands Muslims to fight against the Peoples of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians) “until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled,” that is, become “Dhimmi.” Pagan Arabs are given the simple choice of death or conversion. (“Slay the polytheists wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, let them go their way; God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate”) (Sura 9:5). So, I said, it seemed to me that different Muslim scholars, by laying emphasis upon one or another of these passages, arrive at different interpretations of Islam’s relationship to the non-Muslim world; some do see it as essentially militant, others do not. There are a couple of Muslims in my class; I asked them if they thought I was misrepresenting the religion; one of them said no, the other answered as though I were asking about religion in general, and protested that people ought simply to be nice to one another and not make religion an excuse for their differences. The first student then added that religious violence is not an exclusively Islamic problem, and I agreed with that. But by this time many students in the class were showing signs of feeling uncomfortable, and, as I am sensitive to the limitations of their patience and attention spans, I moved on as best I could to speak about other things.
Were I an ideal professor, I might provide my students with answers to all questions: to the Arab-Israeli conflict, to thirteen centuries of Christian-Muslim antagonism, etc. But I am not an ideal professor, and I do not know the answers to all questions. I know that, as a Christian, I cannot accept the claim that God does not have a Son, or that Jesus did not really die upon the cross, claims which are taught by the Koran and which plainly conflict with the teaching of the New Testament. But also, as a Christian, I cannot simply watch fellow human beings be treated as subhuman. St. John, in his first epistle, says that the one who denies the Father and the Son is antichrist (1 John 2:22). I take that warning seriously. But I do not think it gives me, or anyone else, a license to hate.
May 22, 2010
Today is my 51st birthday. In celebration thereof, I am giving readers of this blog a present, of sorts; recordings of the New Testament, read aloud in the original language. You will find this present on the sidebar, under the title The New Testament read in Greek.