Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Education & All That

A couple of days ago, I was in an online discussion about whether schools (colleges, esp.) should focus on transmitting the knowledge required to do a particular job, or strive to produce a well-rounded person who may (or may not) have a special skill. I reflected briefly on my own school career, and what I valued about it, and responded thusly:
In college I saw lots of smart, ignorant people (not excluding myself). College was more about training; less about education. The university was expected to produce money-makers, young energetic capitalistic chainsaws. Not citizens; not....human beings in the fullest sense of the term. I half-joke about my school career, K through Master's degree: I had one subject in K-12 that was about educating me, as a citizen of America, and the world: Latin. And in college I had one subject that did the same: Art and Architectural History. All the rest was training (I exaggerate a bit) to make money, to be productive in the ways that can be measured on a W-2.
It's true: all we need to be affluent is training. But I see that what I value more are mostly things that don't make money: Scrooge's change of heart in A Christmas Carol; Rembrandt's portrayal of forgiveness in The Prodigal Son; van Gogh's wheatfields; Dorothy realizing there's no place like home, because the people who love her are there; the selfless love of husband and wife in O. Henry's Gift of the Magi; the fact that I could say 'philosopher' or 'logos' to Socrates or Jesus, and they would understand me; that math shows me the Mind of God; the transcendence of Hagia Sophia; that Debussy stood on Tchaikovsky's shoulders, who stood on Beethoven's, who stood on Mozart's, that they each successively created what their musical predecessors could not have imagined; that God bursts out of his children, and in their own unique ways they express his creativity and love.
The difference between education and training: between living, and getting & spending; between citizens and consumers; between babies and masses of tissue; between a nation and a population.
I figure it's better as a society, a family of Man, to be less well trained, and better educated. That does beg the question of who is going educate whom in exactly what, but that'd require another post.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mary, Does that Sweatrag Look Rolled-up to You?

I saw this article about a month ago, did a little research then....seemed unpersuasive to me:

Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection? I never noticed this....
The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes......
It goes on from there, you can find it online all too easily. The rest of this post won't make sense without reading the original article.

The article's based on the King James version of John 20:7, and depends a good bit on the English words napkin, and folded.
The word napkin shows up 3 times in the whole KJV:

Luke 19:20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

John 11:44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

John 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

Napkin's a translation of σουδάριον, soudarion, from the Greek stem for sweat, with the following Bible meanings (per Strong's Concordance):

1) a handkerchief

2) a cloth for wiping perspiration from the face and for cleaning the nose and also used in swathing the head of a corpse

Notice in none of the 3 occasions napkin is used in the KJV does it have anything to do with eating or mealtime (nor do Strong's definitions). Later translations than the KJV (I checked about half a dozen) don't say napkin anywhere, since its use in the KJV is now archaic, and its modern association with mealtime can be confusing.

Now, folded is intended to translate the Greek word ἐντυλίσσω, entylisso, which has the following Bible meaning:

to roll up, wrap together.

In the KJV NT entylisso is used only 3 times:

1. Matt 27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth...

2. Luke 23:53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.

3. John 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

In no case does the online KJV I searched substitute the word fold for wrap. About half of the later translations say fold here; the others say wrap or roll up.

The NT KJV does use the English verb fold once, by the way, here:

Heb 1:12 And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

The word the KJV is translating is ἑλίσσω, helisso, which isn't really the Greek word for fold, anyway (that's δίπλωμω, diplomo; like some English word...I forgot what it is).

Helisso and entylisso are related, they have the same root meaning of rolling or twisting, which is like our Greek loanword helix. So even the Greek word the KJV translates as fold has rolling or twisting as its base meaning. As it turns out, later translations don't say folded, but rather rolled up. My guess is the KJV team used fold since people in their day (and ours) would fold clothes, not roll them up; but later translators used rolled up to stay closer to the Greek verb.

So the whole business in the email about folding napkins at mealtime is made up as far as I can tell.

The only significance I know of regarding the rolled-up headcloth is that it shows Jesus' body was not hurriedly snatched by robbers, e.g, in the Exposition of the Old and New Testaments (1708–1710) by Matthew Henry:

"The grave-clothes were found in very good order, which serves for an evidence that his body was not stolen away while men slept. Robbers of tombs have been known to take away the clothes and leave the body; but none ever took away the body and left the clothes, especially when it was fine linen and new. Anyone would rather choose to carry a dead body in its clothes than naked. Or, if those that were supposed to have stolen it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be supposed they should find leisure to fold up the linen."
Next thing you know, someone will be adding other jots & tittles on their own authority...like this:
So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben.
(Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith alone without the deeds of the law)
Just speculating.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Last week we were discussing the physical literalness of Jesus' death: that not only did Jesus' Human nature die on the cross, but so did his Divine nature....which the kids don't grasp right away, because of course, God can't die, right? Well, in this case he can and did, and how that can be is a mystery....which we don't understand, but then God is more than we can figure out. And remember, Adam & Eve thought they had God figured out.....turned out to be a big mistake on their part.

So some of the things we look at as part of this need for the Sacrifice to be, you know, sacrificed, killed, are bits of Leviticus 4 & 5 (they already know about killing & eating the Passover Lamb). There's a lot of this going on:

"the bullock shall be killed before the LORD...and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him." The bit about atonement & forgiveness is repeated 9 times in these two chapters. You'd think with all that sacrificing, atonement, and forgiveness, everybody'd be going to heaven, but noooo. Why not?

I get a volunteer Jewish sinner to come up & whisper to me some sins, and as a Levite priest (and also a sinner) I say, "Uh, oh, that sin's gonna cost you a lamb and two doves. A really nice lamb, not some scrawny thing you got on sale." The sinner hands over the sacrifices, I kill them, make atonement, he's forgiven. All done, off to heaven? No, the problem is our sins are such an offense that we can't make it up to God on our own. It's like when I was a callow youth and broke a neighbor's window. My ability to atone was at the level of taping the pieces back together. A nice gesture, but it's still a busted window. I wound up needing my father to apologize and fix the window to get things properly restored. So, as I needed my father to atone for my mischief, we need a perfect Lamb to perfectly atone for our sins.

Now I ask, if we need Jesus the perfect Pascal Lamb's death to atone completely for our sins, to redeem us, did all these good people doing their best go burn in Hell before Jesus was crucified? The kids intuit correctly, no.....but...

That was it for the class period. Next class will start with recalling from the Creed, "he descended into Hell"......where was that exactly, and was Jesus dead when he was there?

First we'll discuss Sheol and Gehenna, Hades & Hell. I'll run through the parable about Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.

Then I'll hand out the scene at the top of the page, known in English as the Harrowing of Hell; in Greek, the Anastasis (ανάστασις) , the Resurrection.

[Hey, let's digress and check out the Greek on the fresco: Over Christ's head is H ANAsTACIC, the Anastasis (the odd-looking T is a contraction of a lower case s and and a capital T). To the left is IC, short for IECUC, Jesus; to the right, XC, you guessed it, XRICTOC, Christos. I wonder, considering all the time a fresco or mosaic takes, why save 10 minutes by abbreviating? Am I digressing?]

In the Anastasis we'll see dead Jesus breaking down the gates of 'Hell,' and yanking Adam & Eve out. On the left we see old King David (now there's an expert sinner...can you say Uriah and Bathsheba? They know that story.), young King Solomon, and John the Baptist (the 'Forerunner'). On the right, Abel (the 'Protomartyr') with his shepherd's crook, and other heaven-bound folks I don't know...probably prophets.

I anticipate a lot of 12-year-old brains on fire; we should have some good discussion.

This will lead us into the next chapter which runs from Jesus' burial up to the Ascension and possibly including Pentecost.