Culture and Anticulture

When both sides of the political debate agree on something, it is often time to reconsider it with a contrarian spirit. Today everyone seem to agree that culture is good. Is it? It depends on what culture is. It is very easy to agree on something that can have lots of definitions.

The word `culture麓stems from Latin cultura, meaning something that is cultivated. The farming-and-vegetables-sense can be unambigously expressed as `agriculture麓, so that the culture without agri- could take a new meaning.

One reasonable definition is to say that the culture of a human society is that which humans within that society choose to do and produce spontaneously. This mirrors the agro- definition because, if you sow tomato seeds, add water and sunshine, you still don’t decide how that plant will look but the plant decides for it self based on its genes and what building blocks it finds in the soil.

People who don’t care to pick a definition tend to default to defining culture as that which government decides is culture. This is very much in contrast with the previous definition which required spontaneity on the part of individuals.

The figure below illustrates how two persons can misunderstand each other by using the two definitions above, respectively.

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A trail on 1 Corinthians 14:34

Let us compare the handed down text of 1 Corinthians 14:31-40 with my reconstruction of the ausgangstext translated to English King James style, and a suggestion for how to render it in a modern bible!

v. KJV Reconstruction Suggestion
31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all congregations of the saints.
34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
40 Let all things be done decently and in order. Let all things be done decently and in order. Let all things be done decently and in order.
41 [Let the women keep silence in congregation: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
42 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in congregation.]

The verses 34-35 exist in all manuscripts, however in the Book of Armagh (ca year 808) and in Codex Claromontanus (mid 5th century), they appear at the end of chapter 14. These two are also supported by Ambrosiaster’s commentary. How do I know?

A grant from the European Union enabled Brill to release for free a digital copy of a collation of Old Latin witnesses to Paul’s letters. You can download it here.

The word that KJV translated “church” is Greek 蔚魏魏位畏蟽喂伪. Liddel & Scott’s dictionary says:

An assembly of the citizens summoned by the crier, the legislative assembly: at Athens, the ordinary assemblies were called 魏蠉蟻喂伪喂 峒愇何何晃废兾蔽, four in each 蟺蟻蠀谓蟿伪谓蔚委伪 […]

The word 蔚魏魏位畏蟽喂伪 can mean church, but doesn’t necessarily refer to a Christian congregation, so translating it with ‘church’ in 1 Cor 14:34 involves some unnecessary speculation.

At the end of the verse we read: “… as also saith the law.” When “the law” is mentioned in Paul’s letters it is usually understood to mean the Mosaic law. However, in this case it becomes farfetched to try to find something in the Mosaic law that forbids women from speaking in assemblies. It would also be anachronistic to try anhave this bronze-age law collection talk about Christian churches.

The Greek-English lexicon BDAG provides some pointers that may be relevant. Under headword 位伪位苇蠅, it mentions in connection with 1 Corinthians 14:34, Plutharch’s Moralia 142 D, which reads:

韦峤次 峒ㄎ晃滴壩 峤 蠁蔚喂未委伪蟼 峒埾喯佄课次勎肺 峒愊慰委畏蟽蔚 蠂蔚位蠋谓畏谓 蟺伪蟿慰峥ο兾蔽,
慰峒拔何肯呄佄毕 蟽蠉渭尾慰位慰谓 蟿伪峥栂 纬蠀谓伪喂尉峤 魏伪峤 蟽喂蠅蟺峥喯.
螖蔚峥 纬峤跋 峒 蟺蟻峤赶 蟿峤肝 峒偽轿聪佄 位伪位蔚峥栁 峒 未喂峤 蟿慰峥 峒谓未蟻慰蟼,
渭峤 未蠀蟽蠂蔚蟻伪委谓慰蠀蟽伪谓 蔚峒 未喂 峒位位慰蟿蟻委伪蟼 纬位蠋蟽蟽畏蟼 峤ハ兿蔚蟻 伪峤愇晃废勧酱蟼 蠁胃苇纬纬蔚蟿伪喂 蟽蔚渭谓蠈蟿蔚蟻慰谓.
鈥 Moralia 142 D.

They also reference Inscriptiones Graecae 1369, so let’s quote it as well:

螒 螕 螞 螒 违 巍 螣 违 螜 螘 巍 螘 螒 桅 螘 螜 螖 螣 危 韦 巍 螒 韦 螚
螘 韦 螘 螣 螝 螞 螘 螣 违 危 螒 螜 螛 螒 螞 螜 螖 螣 违 螛 违 螕 螒 韦 螚 巍
… normalised …
峒埼澄晃毕嵪佄肯 峒蔽佄 桅蔚喂未慰蟽蟿蟻维蟿畏
峒樝勎滴课何晃肯呄 螒喂胃伪位委未慰蠀 胃蠀纬维蟿畏蟻.

It is considered bad practice to omit a portion of text from a bible if that text is in all manuscripts, even if we believe it is not original. In this case, verses 34-35 may have been original in their position at the end of chapter 14, or they may originate in the very first letter that Paul sent to the Corinthians, for he had addressed them previously (1 Cor 5:9). If so, it becomes easy to understand why Paul doesn’t provide us with context to his advice or specify which law he refers to, since his first letter wasn’t intended to circulate as scripture.

Words for 'white'

The Hebrew word for white is laban 鈥 诇讘谉. A figure with this name occurs in Genesis chapter 29 and onwards.
When Jacob was sent to Haran in search of a wife, it was not because a white one would be better, as we can see in chapter 28:

Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, 鈥淵ou must not take a wife from the Canaanite women,鈥 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham鈥檚 son, the sister of Nebaioth. 鈥 verses 6-9, ESV.

A related name is the place name Lebanon, commonly thought to refer to the whiteness of that snow-covered mountain range.
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Words for ‘black’

In an attempt to reduce disorder in the universe, let’s have an overview of the words that various languages use to name the colour black.
Hebrew: shechor- 砖讞专 > Aramaic chrthutha ‘darkness’ 讞专转讜转讗
Galilean: aikum 讗讬讻讜诐
The Syriac word for ink: dyw 軙軡軜 looks similar to Welsh du/tywyll ‘black’. I don’t know if they are relatives.
Greek: 渭苇位伪谓
鈥 Latvian: m臋lns ‘black’, mellene ‘blueberries’
鈥 Lithuanian: m臈lynas ‘blue’, m臈lyn臈 ‘blueberries’
鈥 (?) Telugu: nallani (looks related but who knows)
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Book review: God’s Library 鈥 Brent Nongbri


Brent Nongbri became my favourite papyrologist after he argued for 饾敁75 being 4th century. Its earlier date-range in the 2nd-3rd centuries had puzzled me.
Now we read about this new book, modestly named “God’s Library 鈥 the archeology of the earliest Christian manuscripts”, that “Brent Nongbri […] demonstrates that much of what we thought we knew about these books and fragments is mistaken”.
Surely that depends on what we were thinking.
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Exodus and Exit everywhere and look at Matthew 6:19

I was transcribing some Gothic and noticed that Codex Argenteus has two different words for stealing in verse 19 and verse 20 respectively of Matthew chapter 6. These verses aren’t particularly known for textual variants. Here’s ESV to give you an idea what we’re talking about:

19鈥淒o not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Confused flower

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Immigration in Sweden and in Swedish bibles

Will you, dear reader, excuse another vain post about this wretched country?

There are elections upcoming scheduled 9 September (2018) and the all-eclipsing issue is migration. The two largest parties used to be Socialdemokraterna (the Socialists) and the Moderates (moderate socialists). These two parties have led one political bloc each, and have taken turns accepting more and more immigrants into the 10-million-inhabitant state, against some fierce popular resistance.

Now as it happens, Socialdemokraterna is also the party which has the most influence over the church which was until year 2000 run by the government, and which has, for a legacy, more than half the population as members. Year 2000 is also the year when a government commission released a bible paraphrase which was intended to become the “leading bible-text for the Swedish language area”. It is called Bibel2000.

One of its many features is it renders MT: 讙专/ LXX: 蟺蟻慰蟽萎位蠀蟿慰蟼 as ‘immigrant’, in Swedish ‘invandrare’.

A consequence is it becomes hard for Christians to argue in favour of a more restrictive migration policy, since the burden of loving the 讙专/蟺蟻慰萎位蠀蟿慰蟼 as commanded in Torah is substantial, and whereas Christians aren’t bound by the law, it teaches them the principles and reasoning of God, so it cannot really be ignored.

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Gothic comparisons use dative case

What we are talking about are statements like:

You know better than me.

Some people would have you say “You know better than I.” Similarly in Sweden it is argued that the base of the comparison shouldn’t be dative, because we have abolished that long ago, but should be nominative in analogy with a continued clause “… better than I know.”

However, people keep using dative, saying:

Du vet b盲ttre 盲n mig.

Thus the official languages of the kingdoms of Sweden and Great Britain (+N.I.) do comparisons with nominative case or “no case”, whereas the actual people in some places use dative. We may ask which tradition is the most solidly rooted in Germanic and Indoeuropean tradition, and answer the question by looking at a handful of examples from various more or less old European languages.

First goes Old English, represented by the Lindisfarne gospels and 17th century English from King James’ Version:

D潭onne ga冒 he, J hym to-genim冒 sefen o冒re gastes wyrse 镁onne he, J ingangende hyo cardige冒 镁er …
Then goeth he, and taketh with himselfe seuen other spirits more wicked then himselfe, and they enter in and dwell there …
鈥 Matthew 12:45a.

So, Old English actually uses nominative with 镁onne ‘than’, but the much later KJV uses dative.

How about Gothic? Matthew 12:45 has not been preserved but there are plenty of other verses:

OE: Se 镁e 忙fter me toward ys he is strengre 镁anne ich 鈥 Matthew 4:11.
Goth: Qimi镁 swin镁oza mis sa afar mis 鈥 Mark 1:7.
KJV: There cometh one mightier then I after me 鈥 Mark 1:7

King James Version uses nominative here. The Gothic version uses dative almost exclusively. Thomas O. Lambdin notes an exception in his Introduction to the Gothic Language, lesson 20:

Goth: 脧镁 azetizo 茂st himin jah air镁a hindarlei镁an 镁au witodis ainana writ gadriusan
KJV: And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Greek: 蔚蠀魏慰蟺蠅蟿蔚蟻慰谓 未蔚 蔚蟽蟿喂谓 蟿慰谓 慰蠀蟻伪谓慰谓 魏伪喂 蟿畏谓 纬畏谓 蟺伪蟻蔚位胃蔚喂谓 畏 蟿慰蠀 谓慰渭慰蠀 渭喂伪谓 魏蔚蟻伪喂伪谓 蟺蔚蟽蔚喂谓
鈥 Luke 16:17.

Here Gothic uses 镁au + accusative. It is hard to say whether this use of accusative is normal Gothic or if it simply preserved the construction with 畏 + accusative that was used in the Greek version. For Greek uses either accusative or genitive in comparisons of this kind.

Next, let’s look at Old Norse. Terje Faarlund’s The Syntax of Old Norse (p 104) helps us with an example:

镁ykkir engum jafnmikit sem Nj谩li f贸stra hans
nobody feels this as much as Njal, his foster father

Yes, it is dative. However perhaps a more relevant example using 盲n:

at engi jarl v忙ri meiri ok fr忙gri en Sigur冒r
that no earl was greater and more famous than Sigurd

Nominative!

I am not sure what the dative of ‘Jacob’ is in Old High German, but this looks nominative:

“Ne bistu liuten kelop mer than Jacob” 鈥 John 4:12, paraphrased ca year 850.

How about Latin?
Quam can be used with most cases. If quam isn’t used, ablative is the normal case for comparison.

So we have a difference here between Gothic (dative) and Old English + Old Norse + German (nominative). It seems hard to escape the possibility that parts of present day Sweden and England have preserved Gothic practices where everyone else used nominative.

Are there any more Germanic languages that used cases other than nominative for comparison?

The Salty Sower

What is the best way of reading John’s gospel in Greek? From P66 of course. Even the spelling mistakes are divine, except when they aren’t.
I was considering the political risk in running a business within a certain formerly democratic state when my eyes fell on John 4:36-37 in this most ancient document …

峤 胃蔚蟻喂味蠅谓 渭蔚喂蟽胃慰谓 位伪渭尾伪谓蔚喂 魏伪喂 蟽蠀谓伪纬蔚喂 魏伪蟻蟺慰谓 蔚喂蟼 味蠅畏谓 伪喂蠅谓喂慰谓路 蠆谓伪 峤 蟽蟺喂蟻蠅谓 峤佄嘉肯 蠂伪喂蟻畏 魏伪喂 胃蔚蟻喂味蠅谓路
螘谓 纬伪蟻 蟿慰蠀蟿蠅 峤 位慰纬慰蟼 蔚蟽蟿喂谓 伪位畏胃喂谓慰蟼 峤佅勎 峒佄晃肯 蔚蟽蟿喂谓 峤 蟽蟺蔚喂蟻蠅谓 魏伪喂 伪位位慰蟼 峤 胃蔚蟻喂味蠅谓路
Added rough breathings and capital letters.

The reaper receives payment and collects the fruit unto generations of life, so that the sower can rejoice like the reaper.
For in this, the word is genuine that: “A salty one there is who sows and another who reaps”.

The difference between P66 and other manuscripts is a 位 鈥 伪位慰蟼 ‘salty’ vs 伪位位慰蟼 ‘another’. Now salt was used by the ancients, patriarchs and kings, to enter agreements. They would eat salt together. If we trust in laws and agreements we will be more likely to sow in the sense of investing, but not particularly likely to reap as Isaiah 65:21-22 hints.

But what if this is not about investment? Salt was used in Israel to flavour sacrifices. But a sacrifice wouldn’t rejoice would it? Perhaps it would if it weren’t sacrificed, like Isaac in Genesis chapter 22. Otherwise it’s surprisingly hard to find people on the street who rejoice because they haven’t been sacrificed recently. It is also a bit challenging to find an article about chanterelles which mentions how to sow them and not just how to eat them.

In a sense reaping and sowing are opposite actions. When it comes to wheat or chanterelles, sowing is more enriching for a third party. When it comes to human souls, reaping is so much more essential for the survival of mankind and mother earth, so if you are somewhat old and there is room in your heart, why not accept a disciple?

By the way, the usual text says: “There is one who sows and another who reaps.”