Author Archives: sestir

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


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.”

Independent Swedish Media

Somewhat off the topics of this blog, as most people in Sweden today are unable to find even a single newspaper that is independent of the parties that are represented in parliament, and as this situation has turned the state into a reality-averse bubble, here’s a selection of relatively independent media.

Comments? = Are comments usually allowed; according to which comment system?
G = Google/Blogspot, W = WordPress, 鉁旓笌 = In-house.

Free? = Is all content free or does some content require subscription?

Ac.? = Are they independent of state financed academic institutions?

Company/Ass. (Brands) Comments? Free? Ac.? Link
Cornucopia? G 鉁旓笌 鉁旓笌
In Beijing W 鉁旓笌 鉁旓笌
Blendow (Dagens Juridik) 鉁旓笌 + 鉁旓笌
IDG 鉁旓笌 鉁旓笌
Spanaren 鉁旓笌 鉁旓笌
I 脰st 鉁旓笌 鉁旓笌
Curie 鉁旓笌 鉁旓笌 Nope
Forskning och Framsteg 鉁旓笌 Nope
FT News Gr. O脺 (Fria Tider) + 鉁旓笌

Comments to this article that mention or suggests news papers or media sites that receive grants from the state (Presst枚d/Partist枚d), that publish whole articles from the monopoly news agency or that are controlled within the so called Public Service [sicut] framework, will be removed as the topic is independent media. Comments that suggest news sites that might really be independent are most welcome, as are corrections.

New Testament Papyrus chart


Click for full size.
Papyrus fragments are typically dated paleographically to a span of 50 years, so their location within this chart should be understood as very approximate. A few mss were left out, either because they contain very few words or because, as is the case with P98 of Revelation chapter 1, they are unusually difficult to date.

Children 鈥 Barn

Don’t worry! I won’t post pictures of mine. Perhaps because I don’t have any, or perhaps because I care about my readers.

A few brief reflections however …

If you are a woman and want to know if a man likes children or not, ask him! Don’t ask another man “Does X like children?”, or actually, you can ask that question but ask the man himself too, then you’ll find out if the first guy is a liar. If another man says X doesn’t like children, there’s still 90 % chance that he does 鈥 at least his own.

In Yorkshire barn is a dialectal word for children. In Sweden barn is the word in standard language. In Gothic it’s barn. In Syriac it’s yalud (infant) or taly. However son is bar 軖塥 . Coincidence?

Sk盲ggebarn is a new word in Swedish. It is made up of two pieces 鈥 sk盲gg = beard, barn = barn. And then there is the connecting vowel. Swedish doesn’t use as many connecting vowels as Danish and Scanian so the form sk盲ggbarn could have been expected, and indeed it occurs but rarely perhaps even more often than sk盲ggebarn (corrected based on feedback from a reader).

A sk盲ggebarn is a man aged above 18, who travels to a foreign country (such as Sweden) and upon asylum claims that he has lost his ID-card and that he is x years old, where x << 18. This simple deception has been well known for at least five years and it is not clear why the migration authority insisted on getting fooled in the face of criticism. Today, they have been ordered by the government to switch to a restrictive extreme, as if a car driver who has been in the left roadside ditch could make up for her mistake by slipping into the right one as well.

I found it curious that /e/ was used for connecting vowel here. Some investigation revealed that the forms with /e/ were mostly used by people from central Sweden. Scanians used /a/ at least as often. The connecting vowels are not completely understood. I suggest /a/ is partitive and /e/ is locative or instrumental. Lucazin1 suggest it is genitive and should be /a/ for masculine and neuter nouns, and /e/ for most feminine except some old irregular ones. In this case our rules agree and it should be sk盲ggabarn in Scanian.

1 Utkast till ortografi 枚ver det Sk氓nska spr氓ket, tabell 12.1 sid 124.