Sunday, August 14, 2016

Today's Quote

From Russell M. Nelson, "Protect the Spiritual Power Line" (October 1984):

"Learning can be misused! A sharp mind, misdirected, can cut into that line of spiritual power. Some 'learned' souls delight in leading others astray, all in the so-called name of learning. Years later their victims may realize that they have climbed their ladder of learning, only to find it leaning against the wrong wall."

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Today's Quote

I witnessed something yesterday that reminded me of a quote by Peter Novick:
"There is nothing more tedious than the spectacle of disgruntled authors complaining that they have been misrepresented or, even worse, whimpering that they have been misunderstood. Academic authors, above all others, should be immunized from such concerns, after years of seeing the versions of our lectures we get back in blue books at the end of the term."
(Peter Novick, "My Correct Views on Everything," American Historical Review 96/3 (1991): 699.)
I have often thought I have been misunderstood. Sometimes I have even felt deliberately misunderstood. When that occurs I often remember this quote.

Alas, authors who pretend to be academic but never teach classes have no such immunization. Such immunization also avails nothing to narcissists.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Metaphor for Apostasy

Psalm 73 in the Septuagint (where it is numbered Psalm 72) contains an unusual metaphor for apostasy:
οτι ιδου οι μακρυνοντες εαυτους απο σου απολουνται εξωλεθρευσας παντα τον πορνευοντα απο σου
For behold those who remove themselves from thee are lost; thou shalt destroy all those who fornicate from thee (Psalm 72:27 LXX).
This is actually a fairly close translation of the Hebrew. In the minds of the ancient Israelites immorality and apostasy are closely linked (see also Hosea).

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Bitter Cup

In Matthew 26:39 Jesus said:
Πάτερ μου, εἰ δυνατόν ἐστιν, παρελθάτω ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦτο πλὴν οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω ἀλλ’ ὡς σύ.
The King James translation gives this as:
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Because the cup is mentioned by Jesus, the expression is familiar, but where does the cup come from? Cups do figure into the Passover ceremony but not in such a way that it makes sense in the way that Jesus uses it.

The same term, cup (ποτήριον), shows up in Psalm 74:9 (Psalm 75:8 in the KJV):
ὅτι ποτήριον ἐν χειρὶ κυρίου οἴνου ἀκράτου πλῆρες κεράσματος καὶ ἔκλινεν ἐκ τούτου εἰς τοῦτο πλὴν ὁ τρυγίας αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἐξεκενώθη πίονται πάντες οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ τῆς γῆς
For a cup of undiluted wine is in the Lord's hand, full of mixture and he tips it from this to this but its dregs will not be poured out, all the sinners of the earth shall drink them.
So the reference to drinking the cup seems to refer back to the cup that the Psalmist sang about, the cup of the wrath of God directed at sinners.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

An Ad for Addicts

Just in case you, or someone you know, is addicted to Ethiopia's most famous food, you can watch this video here.

One of the more interesting things to me is that this particular delicacy was mainly used by Muslims through the Middle Ages:
At one time coffee was consumed by Oromos and Muslims only. The clergy condemned the use of coffee. However, at a later date coffe won the palates and hearts of even the strictest of the priesthood.
Coffee did not become an intrinsic part of Ethiopian culture until the 1880s when Menelik [II, Emperor of Ethiopia from 1889 to 1913] himself drank it. At that time the Egyptian Bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Matewos [bishop from 1881 to 1926], dismissed the clergy's contention that it was a Muslim drink.
(Daniel J. Mesfin, Exotic Ethiopian Cooking [Falls Church, VA: Ethiopian Cookbook Enterprises, 1993], p. xxvii.)
Abune Matewos, was born and educated in Egypt. He may not have understood the local Ethiopian Christian aversion to coffee; he certainly did not share it.

Why was coffee a Muslim drink. One of the main reasons was that coffee did not contain alcohol (like beer or wine) and so you could not get drunk from it, it required boiling so it killed the germs in the water, and it had its own chemicals with neurological side effects.

So coffee has always been prohibited by some Christian sect or other throughout its entire history.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Some Belated Kudos

I just noticed that my friend, Gary Gillum, is on the advisory board for Oxford Biblical Studies Online. That is great news. I have known Gary about thirty years. He is a wonderful man with an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide range of subjects. He has quietly produced a wide variety of good work. I remember as an undergraduate extensively using two bibliographic works that he had prepared. I am glad that even though Gary has retired that he is still productive. What a coup for Oxford to get him involved in this project!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Jürgen von Beckerath (1920-2016)

This came in from Angelika Lohnwasser:

Prof. em. Dr. Jürgen von Beckerath, 1920-2016

Am 26.6.2016 verstarb in seinem Haus in Schlehdorf/Bayern der frühere Direktor des Instituts für Ägyptologie und Koptologie der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Prof. Dr. Jürgen von Beckerath im Alter von 96 Jahren. Er war der zweite Vertreter der Ägyptologie in Münster und amtierte von 1970 bis 1985. Seine Karriere verlief nach früher „klassischem“ Muster: Promotion in München 1948, 1952 Reisestipendium nach Ägypten (als erster deutscher Wissenschaftler nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg), 1955 Stipendium der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft, später Assistent am Ägyptischen Museum in München, 1958 Lehrauftrag für Ägyptologie in München, Habilitation ebendort 1963, 1966/67 Associate Professor an der Columbia University in New York, 1970 Ruf nach Münster als Nachfolger von Walther Wolf. Chronologie und Geschichte des Alten Ägypten waren seine hauptsächlichen Forschungsschwerpunkte. Neben zahlreichen einschlägigen Artikeln (der letzte aus dem Jahre 2003) gehören drei Bücher zu seinen wichtigsten Veröffentlichungen: Untersuchungen zur politischen Geschichte der Zweiten Zwischenzeit in Ägypten (Habilitationsschrift), 1965; die beiden folgenden sind Handbücher geworden: Chronologie des pharaonischen Ägypten. Die Zeitbestimmung der ägyptischen Geschichte von der Vorzeit bis 332 v. Chr., 1997; Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen, 1984, 1999.
 I have found von Beckerath's Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen extremely useful (I was using it just yesterday).

I would like to highlight an article of von Beckerath's which I have found extremely helpful. Jürgen von Beckerath, "Die Lesung von "Regierungsjahr": ein neuer Vorschlag," Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 95/2 (1969): 88-91. In this article von Beckerath establishes that the reading of the regnal year group is ḥsbt, not ḥ3t-zp or rnpt-zp. This reading was confirmed in Kaul-Theodor Zauzich, "Das topographische Onomastikon im P. Kairo 31169," Göttinger Miszellen 99 (1987): 83-91.

It was also von Beckerath who pointed out that we really have no evidence that the Egyptians knew about the Sothic cycle before the Ptolemaic period.

It has been at least a decade since von Beckerath was active in the field, but he made some important contributions.