David Davis

I despair of the way politicians believe they must make binding statements about things! Today, not that surprisingly, David Davis has weighed in against the admirable Nicola Sturgeon to rule out her proposition that it might be possible for Scotland to remain in some form within the EU while yet also remaining within the UK. I had been saying the same thing actually since the referendum result so of course I think the First Minister’s idea is both sound and clever.

Mr Davis loves to be negative. I think what he says does not quite do the the man justice, because I know he has shown a lot of personal kindness to gay MPs in difficulties with the media while yet maintaining a defiance about the repeal of Section 28 and also voting against the gay marriage act. I think, in that strange gurgling voice that must be an imitation of the great, late Daniel Massey, he likes to sound decisive. (he even goes on record supporting the death penalty)

davis

I think, however, that politics is about being ready to change our opinions. If this were not the case, then there would be no point debating stuff in the Commons. We might as well just read out speeches from some grand podium instead. Our British democratic tradition is based on our capacity to adapt to realities. The reality now is that the BREXIT decision has been made in England, though the same is far from certainly the case in Scotland, Gibraltar and Northern Ireland where an overwhelming majority voted to Remain. A clever politician recognises this tension and moves forward. Theresa May did just that (she is a unionist) in her first speech and then, more directly, (she would listen to any options) when she went up to Edinburgh. I was optimistic – until Davis started to pontificate.

Because Davis feels he still needs to win the referendum debate. To quote the great Healey, “What a silly billy” he is being! He has been dealt an Ace and he is still fiddling around with his Knaves. We have heard his points before. They were all made in the Referendum debate- which he won! We now want to hear something else. We do not expect a Minister to be a trained parrot and certainly not one peddled by Farage pet supplies.

This spurred the First Minister to declare that a second referendum could be as early as Next year. Especially if at the point of triggering Article 50, the first Minister is not “on board”:

“I will have an independence referendum if I come to conclusion that is in the best interests of Scotland. I’ve always said that. It would be up to Scottish people ultimately to decide if that is right way to go.”

She told Andrew Marr,

“I think the positive outcome of the meeting I had with the prime minister on Friday was that she said she was prepared to listen to options that the Scottish government would bring forward to give effect to how Scotland voted and we will certainly bring forward options. Let’s see what progress we can make.” Don’t you love this woman!

I hope to God that the wise women here win this discussion, because the testosterone-driven declarations of Davis do no one any good.

Ireland looks set to back Gay marriage

Tremendous news from Ireland-

I think it is time to reflect on what this means and why the arguments trotted out about Church policy and Biblical morality are misplaced. There is room for discussion on what Biblical texts might mean as there is also room for debating the rights and wrongs of Canon law, but civil marriage is quite a different issue and is about equality and Human Rights. It is not about “Adam and Steve” or any such absurdity.

This is what I wrote a few months ago about the religious texts:

My analysis in the 3 films dealing with the 6 texts in the bible that appear to condemn homosexuality is underpinned by a text that was discovered about 15 years ago and was written by a man called Photios of Constantinople (Icon below). This text seems to me to nail the final and elusive verse that simply defied interpretation and frankly defied analysis altogether. So many of the Pauline letters are muddled because they were hastily written and written also to suit a specific and lost purpose.

A few weeks ago, I was condemned on twitter as a “homophobe” because someone, actually a friend of David Coburn MEP, had seen the title frames of these three films and assumed that I am some sort of religious nut championing a “traditionalist” cause. I am not, of course, but I hope I am using traditional tools and I trust my scholarship is sound.

So much has been made by the church and later scholars about the prohibition of homosexuality in the bible and it is based on assumptions that I think are completely misplaced and an approach to religion that is prejudiced, dismissive and aggressive. If 5 of the texts can be proven to be ambiguous at best about condemning homosexuality, then I believed it stood to reason that I might be allowed to look more closely at the questionable Romans verse to see if that verse too was ambiguous. It is not, I found. In fact, when read in the context of what Photios says, it makes it quite clear that homosexuality does not belong to the category of sins that is “damning”- what catholicism would later call “mortal sin” and what Paul says are sins worthy of “eternal death”. Eternal death, instead, greets those who are malicious and spiteful, as well as those who judge one another. So, those people who want to toss out condemnations supposedly supported by spurious proof texts from scripture- be warned! It is a double-edged sword!

I am not here saying that the Church is about to promote homosexual relationships. I am simply saying that the Church needs to reflect that its harsh tone should be modified, as indeed, the present Pope has already done- “who are we to judge?”. Also, I think it is by no means certain that the Bible intends to be so decisive on this matter. The Church moves very slowly, but if we can establish that homosexuality is not a cause of savage condemnation, then there is room for progress.

It is inclusion, not exclusion that should be our aim. Ireland has recognised that, because- let’s face it, the majority of people whop voted for same sex marriage were not gay. This was altruism in practice and it is commendable.

The piece that follows starts with an analysis of a very specific text and should be seen in the light of my three films links to which are included below:

Photios of Constantinople and our new film

photios icon

Photios

Here is an icon of Photios, sometimes called Photius in the West and Saint Photios the Great in Orthodoxy.

We have just finished a new educational film about the 6 texts used in the Bible to condemn homosexuality.Because it is only 40 minutes long (it is divided into 3 parts on youtube) Below are parts 1 and 2:

interrupt

I am afraid there are a number of glosses that i have made and which I will try to correct here over a number of blogs. I am aware that I have not really done justice (slight pun) to the text by Photios that is the lynch-pin of the main argument in the film. The issue I am discussing here occurs in the third part on youtube and the link to that part is here.

What Photios says

I have provided the Greek text of what Photios writes on the film, though it is on-screen fleetingly so here it is again:

photios on romans flat

Photios was very interested in the way Greek changes over the years from the various forms of Ancient /Attic Greek used by Homer to the Greek of the Septuagint and then the koine used in the New Testament. Photios was familiar on a day-by-day basis with the Byzantine Greek of the Imperial court and the Church but there was probably yet another more colloquial version of that in the streets of “the city”, H Polis.

Colwell’s rule

So his greatest work is probably his lexicon, which has helped scholars today to work out how words have changed their meanings and how Greek grammar has evolved. This is particularly important if you want to avoid the nonsense of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who wrongly ascribe at best an Attic grammar to the New Testament and at worst some inexperienced mumbo-jumbo. I met a man today who was sitting by the canal reading a bible. I asked which version and he said “the New World Translation”. I could not get away fast enough! There are endless errors in this Jehovah’s witness text, some simply bizarre- like the use of “torture stake” for “cross” because the Jehovah’s witnesses do not accept that Jesus died on a cross and the refusal to translate any words for hell because they do not believe in hell either. Anyway, the crucial passage is John 1:1 (in every manuscript except Codex L which has ὁ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος)- here is the correct version: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος the last phrase of which is in Greek a form of Yoda-speak: “And God the word he was” or some such “Star wars” jabber. But it should be translated: “the word was God” but is translated by the Jehovah’s witnesses as “the word was a god”. Origin thinks that John omits the article because he refers to Jesus as God and not to the Father and Origin argues, “the true God is Ho Theos” (Commentary on John Book 2, chapter 2) which comes close to the Jehovah’s witness position of denying the Trinity, but not quite. Later scholars absolutely reject this: Bultmann, for example, is incandescent at the thought that the omitted definite article means only or merely “divine”: Denn man kann doch nicht verstehen: er war ein Gott, ein Gottwesen, als ob θεός ein Gattungsbegriff wäre- (he thinks, instead, that the word THEOS has some special grammatical rules of its own) but there is another solution. Here it is: In koine greek, though not in Attic greek, there was an increasing temptation to omit the article when a definite noun (a name) precedes the verb or when a noun should be identified as the predicate. This is often called “Colwell’s rule” and other instances can be found in Mark 15:39 and Matthew 27:42- βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ ἐστιν. The rule can be adjusted slightly because the “anthrous” noun, that is a noun without a definite article, can sometimes (as maybe here) simply be a way of establishing importance or prominence. The purpose of this paragraph is not so much to rebutt the Jehovah’s witness but to demonstrate that Greek was at the time when the New Testament was written in a state of flux and that Photios understood this.

In his commentary, therefore, on Romans 2, Photios considers Paul’s use of words very carefully and concludes that Paul was being specific about a particular part of the law/ the Torah.

Tracking down the fragment

Only a fragment of this commentary exists today and is found in a collection of fragments so it is itself a bit obscure. I managed to track down the text but struggled with the translation and called on an old friend in Athens who sent me off to see a man he called Bill who turned out to be the same man who had first “discovered” the text and published a small article on it in the early part of this century. When looking at obscure texts, the chances are that you are dealing with just a handful of people who know about them, translate them and use them. So, I had a fruitful and entertaining correspondence with Professor Bill Berg, the very man responsible for digging up this brilliant little gem. For my part, I was struggling with elements of the paragraph which seemed to me to be deeply anti-semitic and he agreed. So that was that. They are not important to the argument but they suggest that the man who was writing was doing so quickly and with alot of passion. It is not really surprising that this was the man who single-handedly fractured the Church. Many Catholics today dismiss the “filioque” dispute as a linguistic quibble and I remember having a long debate about this over a few weeks in the letters page of the Athens News, but the Greeks and Russians still regard the issues in the filioque as central to their decision to perpetuate the schism. For Photios and the modern Orthodox one of the central issues of the filioque is its origin in the writings of Augustine and this itself taints the theology of Augustine for the Orthodox.certainly. I think this is why there is a slightly different understanding of “original sin” in the East.

Romans 2: 26-27:

Back to Romans. The verse Photios is considering is Chapter 2. 26-27. This is what it looks like in Greek:  ἐὰν οὖν ἡ ἀκροβυστία τὰ δικαιώματα τοῦ νόμου φυλάσσῃ, [a]οὐχ ἡ ἀκροβυστία αὐτοῦ εἰς περιτομὴν λογισθήσεται; καὶ κρινεῖ ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία τὸν νόμον τελοῦσα σὲ τὸν διὰ γράμματος καὶ περιτομῆς παραβάτην νόμου.

Ands this is the standard English translation: So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

Photios says about this: (Photios’ words in brackets here) “for the Jews, (them) Paul (he) talks about the Torah (the law); for the uncircumcised, he talks about the ‘justices of the law’ not the whole law but only a specific part.” Photios has not quite gone all the way but it can be demonstrated by statements in, for instance, the beginning of Luke when Luke describes Zacharia and his wife keeping “all the jobs and justices of the law” that there are two different parts to the Torah and that these two parts were acknowledged as such at the time of Christ. Things change when the Temple falls in AD 70- and Judaism redefines itself as rabbinic or Pharisaic Judaism so this may explain why such a distinction gets lost.

The Golden Rule is the King’s Law

“The Golden Rule” (to love one another), broadly speaking, is that part of the Torah which is endorsed by Paul as central to the Christian life and is also flagged up by Jesus. Let me explain!! The measure of our relationship with God is to be found in our relationship with one another. This is defined by Christ in the Golden Rule, (Mtt 7:12: Πάντα οὖν ὅσα [a]ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς· οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται.) but it is also found in Hillel (Shabbat 31a: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn) and is embedded in Lev xix 18. In the epistle of James, this is called “the Kingly law”: james 2:8: Εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, καλῶς ποιεῖτε· Now, a “kingly law” was regarded in the ancient world as something that took precedence over any other existing laws. An example of this can be found in Pergamum (Deissmann) but the idea is fairly straightforward. If Christ had issued the Golden rule as a “kingly law” then that takes precedence over anything else in the Torah. The Golden rule is to deal well with others. It is not about cultic practice. In other words, the Gentile might well be able to keep the “kingly law” (which sums up the whole Torah anyway) in the knowledge that he can not keep the  Torah itself.

This happens at a time when elements of Pharasaic Judaism were perhaps getting out of control. People were indulging in the cultic observances as a way to make up for their failing with one another. David Wood suggests that this is the kernel of Paul’s message- that no amount of cultic obedience can erase offences to the Golden rule. That is paramount and trumps the cultic laws, because the “kingly law” is absolute.

In terms of the two types of law, and here I think the film does an adequate enough job in part 3:

Homosexuality falls into those laws defined as “cultic”: rather than into those laws that support the “Golden Rule”, what Wood calls “the Justices”. Paul might not like Homosexuality (personally) but he does not think it is something that will damn someone to eternal death, particularly if they are mindful of the Golden Rule. What is damning instead is nastiness, and spite and I suppose writing hateful things in a blog. We must be nice to Jehovah’s witnesses when they knock on the door. Be nice but do not necessarily agree with what they say.

I will stop here and write something lighter next time!

The Presbyterian Church of Scotland goes multicolour

In the 1970s, I studied Theology in St Andrews. I then went on to Oxford and did pretty much the same thing there. It is interesting, therefore, to see that the Kirk is now poised to accept gay clergy. I think this is a great step forward but it is also a step I could not possibly have imagined happening back in the 70s. Then, this austere, and rather imposing Church was also quite censorious and puritantical about homosexuality.

gray cardinal

In those days, there were three oddly named prelates of distinction in St Andrews- Principal Black who ruled the St Mary’s college, Cardinal Gray and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, also called Gray. There was someone called White. In other words, we lived a monochromatic life in the Divinity faculty, as the messenger would have whined in “A matter of Life and Death” devoid of technicolour.
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History
The process of acceptance has taken about 20 years, beginning in the 1990s with the commissioning of two documents to the Board of Social Responsibility. This led to the formation of some panels, one of which reported back unanimously confirming that gay marriage was not sinful. This in turn, not without some popular dissent, led to a decision to allow same sex religious blessings and later to admit to the clergy those who were in same sex relationships – but there was a fudge. Rather like the marriage of Orthodox clergy, the partnership needed to predate the ordination. Today, that fudge will be gone! Things are more progressive in the States, of course. Which makes me wonder why anyone would think that God’s law should be so limited geographically. Either something is wrong or it is right. And we surely cannot be “in communion” with people who are doing something wrong. As (with some mild exceptions in the US which I will come to) the Church of Scotland has not fractured at the agreed advances in social reform, it makes sense that the Scottish mother-church should hurry up and assent lest the whole thing crumble. The same might be said of the Church of England. What is right in America cannot be wrong in England – when it comes to basic morality in the church. This is not a traffic rule and we are not discussing whether to drive on the left or the right.
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Exceptions
Now, I mentioned exceptions and these are important- the associate church, the “presbyterian church in America” and the Orthodox presyberian church have all condemned any acceptance of same sex relationships or of gay clergy. The Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa in New Zealand confirms that “marriage is between a man and a woman” as does the Presbyterian Church in Brazil, and in Mexico. More worryingly, there is an organisation sponsored by some of these churches called “OnebyOne” which seems to still advocate aversion therapy.
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Politics
While we in the UK, therefore, get into a flap about widening the State definition of marriage, it is remarkable and encouraging that some of the Churches are looking at the religious options available, and have been doing so for some time. Personally, I think the legal definition of Same-sex marriage still has a long way to go, but contrary to the anxiety of some MPs who saw fit to “quote scripture” out of context, this should be an issue about equality and not about religion.
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Quotas
Yesterday, there was a statement in the media that the UK parliament has more LGBT MPs than any other Political assembly. Many new SNP members are openly gay. But the UK establishment has long recognised that homosexuality is no bar to high office. If the rumours put out by a member of Monty Python are to be believed, and I suspect they are true, then certainly one of our former Prime Ministers was gay.
heath
The presbyterian Church today is advancing the gay debate and setting forward a framework whereby, when the law comes back to the House of Commons in a few years’ time, as no doubt it must, no one dare stand up and make reference to a so-called prohibition in Leviticus or what they think Jesus might have meant. The religious bit of this debate is over.

Photios of Constantinople and our new film

photios icon

Photios

Here is an icon of Photios, sometimes called Photius in the West and Saint Photios the Great in Orthodoxy.

 

We have just finished a new educational film about the 6 texts used in the Bible to condemn homosexuality.Because it is only 40 minutes long (it is divided into 3 parts on youtube) Below are parts 1 and 2:

I am afraid there are a number of glosses that i have made and which I will try to correct here over a number of blogs. I am aware that I have not really done justice (slight pun) to the text by Photios that is the lynch-pin of the main argument in the film. The issue I am discussing here occurs in the third part on youtube and the link to that part is here.

What Photios says

I have provided the Greek text of what Photios writes on the film, though it is on-screen fleetingly so here it is again:

photios on romans flat

Photios was very interested in the way Greek changes over the years from the various forms of Ancient /Attic Greek used by Homer to the Greek of the Septuagint and then the koine used in the New Testament. Photios was familiar on a day-by-day basis with the Byzantine Greek of the Imperial court and the Church but there was probably yet another more colloquial version of that in the streets of “the city”, H Polis.

Colwell’s rule

So his greatest work is probably his lexicon, which has helped scholars today to work out how words have changed their meanings and how Greek grammar has evolved. This is particularly important if you want to avoid the nonsense of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who wrongly ascribe at best an Attic grammar to the New Testament and at worst some inexperienced mumbo-jumbo. I met a man today who was sitting by the canal reading a bible. I asked which version and he said “the New World Translation”. I could not get away fast enough! There are endless errors in this Jehovah’s witness text, some simply bizarre- like the use of “torture stake” for “cross” because the Jehovah’s witnesses do not accept that Jesus died on a cross and the refusal to translate any words for hell because they do not believe in hell either. Anyway, the crucial passage is John 1:1 (in every manuscript except Codex L which has ὁ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος)- here is the correct version: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος the last phrase of which is in Greek a form of Yoda-speak: “And God the word he was” or some such “Star wars” jabber. But it should be translated: “the word was God” but is translated by the Jehovah’s witnesses as “the word was a god”. Origin thinks that John omits the article because he refers to Jesus as God and not to the Father and Origin argues, “the true God is Ho Theos” (Commentary on John Book 2, chapter 2) which comes close to the Jehovah’s witness position of denying the Trinity, but not quite. Later scholars absolutely reject this: Bultmann, for example, is incandescent at the thought that the omitted definite article means only or merely “divine”: Denn man kann doch nicht verstehen: er war ein Gott, ein Gottwesen, als ob θεός ein Gattungsbegriff wäre- (he thinks, instead, that the word THEOS has some special grammatical rules of its own) but there is another solution. Here it is: In koine greek, though not in Attic greek, there was an increasing temptation to omit the article when a definite noun (a name) precedes the verb or when a noun should be identified as the predicate. This is often called “Colwell’s rule” and other instances can be found in Mark 15:39 and Matthew 27:42- βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ ἐστιν. The rule can be adjusted slightly because the “anthrous” noun, that is a noun without a definite article, can sometimes (as maybe here) simply be a way of establishing importance or prominence. The purpose of this paragraph is not so much to rebutt the Jehovah’s witness but to demonstrate that Greek was at the time when the New Testament was written in a state of flux and that Photios understood this.

In his commentary, therefore, on Romans 2, Photios considers Paul’s use of words very carefully and concludes that Paul was being specific about a particular part of the law/ the Torah.

Tracking down the fragment

Only a fragment of this commentary exists today and is found in a collection of fragments so it is itself a bit obscure. I managed to track down the text but struggled with the translation and called on an old friend in Athens who sent me off to see a man he called Bill who turned out to be the same man who had first “discovered” the text and published a small article on it in the early part of this century. When looking at obscure texts, the chances are that you are dealing with just a handful of people who know about them, translate them and use them. So, I had a fruitful and entertaining correspondence with Professor Bill Berg, the very man responsible for digging up this brilliant little gem. For my part, I was struggling with elements of the paragraph which seemed to me to be deeply anti-semitic and he agreed. So that was that. They are not important to the argument but they suggest that the man who was writing was doing so quickly and with alot of passion. It is not really surprising that this was the man who single-handedly fractured the Church. Many Catholics today dismiss the “filioque” dispute as a linguistic quibble and I remember having a long debate about this over a few weeks in the letters page of the Athens News, but the Greeks and Russians still regard the issues in the filioque as central to their decision to perpetuate the schism. For Photios and the modern Orthodox one of the central issues of the filioque is its origin in the writings of Augustine and this itself taints the theology of Augustine for the Orthodox.certainly. I think this is why there is a slightly different understanding of “original sin” in the East.

Romans 2: 26-27:

Back to Romans. The verse Photios is considering is Chapter 2. 26-27. This is what it looks like in Greek:  ἐὰν οὖν ἡ ἀκροβυστία τὰ δικαιώματα τοῦ νόμου φυλάσσῃ, [a]οὐχ ἡ ἀκροβυστία αὐτοῦ εἰς περιτομὴν λογισθήσεται; καὶ κρινεῖ ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία τὸν νόμον τελοῦσα σὲ τὸν διὰ γράμματος καὶ περιτομῆς παραβάτην νόμου.

Ands this is the standard English translation: So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

Photios says about this: (Photios’ words in brackets here) “for the Jews, (them) Paul (he) talks about the Torah (the law); for the uncircumcised, he talks about the ‘justices of the law’ not the whole law but only a specific part.” Photios has not quite gone all the way but it can be demonstrated by statements in, for instance, the beginning of Luke when Luke describes Zacharia and his wife keeping “all the jobs and justices of the law” that there are two different parts to the Torah and that these two parts were acknowledged as such at the time of Christ. Things change when the Temple falls in AD 70- and Judaism redefines itself as rabbinic or Pharisaic Judaism so this may explain why such a distinction gets lost.

The Golden Rule is the King’s Law

“The Golden Rule” (to love one another), broadly speaking, is that part of the Torah which is endorsed by Paul as central to the Christian life and is also flagged up by Jesus. Let me explain!! The measure of our relationship with God is to be found in our relationship with one another. This is defined by Christ in the Golden Rule, (Mtt 7:12: Πάντα οὖν ὅσα [a]ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς· οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται.) but it is also found in Hillel (Shabbat 31a: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn) and is embedded in Lev xix 18. In the epistle of James, this is called “the Kingly law”: james 2:8: Εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, καλῶς ποιεῖτε· Now, a “kingly law” was regarded in the ancient world as something that took precedence over any other existing laws. An example of this can be found in Pergamum (Deissmann) but the idea is fairly straightforward. If Christ had issued the Golden rule as a “kingly law” then that takes precedence over anything else in the Torah. The Golden rule is to deal well with others. It is not about cultic practice. In other words, the Gentile might well be able to keep the “kingly law” (which sums up the whole Torah anyway) in the knowledge that he can not keep the  Torah itself.

This happens at a time when elements of Pharasaic Judaism were perhaps getting out of control. People were indulging in the cultic observances as a way to make up for their failing with one another. David Wood suggests that this is the kernel of Paul’s message- that no amount of cultic obedience can erase offences to the Golden rule. That is paramount and trumps the cultic laws, because the “kingly law” is absolute.

In terms of the two types of law, and here I think the film does an adequate enough job in part 3:

Homosexuality falls into those laws defined as “cultic”: rather than into those laws that support the “Golden Rule”, what Wood calls “the Justices”. Paul might not like Homosexuality (personally) but he does not think it is something that will damn someone to eternal death, particularly if they are mindful of the Golden Rule. What is damning instead is nastiness, and spite and I suppose writing hateful things in a blog. We must be nice to Jehovah’s witnesses when they knock on the door. Be nice but do not necessarily agree with what they say.

I will stop here and write something lighter next time!

Erasmus and the TEXTUS RECEPTUS

I am in the middle of finishing the second part of the film about the 6 texts in the Bible that condemn Homosexuality. What is clear is that the evangelical enthusiasm for and often aggressive repetition of these verses on the internet is a bit misplaced. The verses are not at all as clear as they appear to be. More on this later when I have finished the film. Meanwhile, here is a page from the diary of some drawings of Erasmus. This is based on two different statues but the shape of the eyes and mouth is quite consistent and familiar from the Durer drawing and the Holbein paintings.

I wonder a bit about the importance of the “Textus Receptus” which is the Greek text lying behind the King James Version. The problem is that much of it is simply a translation from the Latin Vulgate back into what Erasmus supposed the Greek ought to be. Otherwise it is based on Byzantine texts and the Septuagint.

There is an interesting story early on when Erasmus is improving the latin “translation” of Paul’s letters. He write in 1512, “It is only fair that Paul should address the Romans in somewhat better Latin.” Then he adds, “I have already almost finished emending him by collating a large number of ancient manuscripts, and this I am doing at enormous personal expense.” I get the impression that the “emending” is a form of embellishing rather than translating as Erasmus does not mention any Greek originals and I think by this date had barely taught himself Greek (an interest in Greek began when he visited england in 1499 and was introduced to John Colet who was influenced by Patristics; he only seemed to start teaching himself, however after 1506). Of course, he talks in a later letter, “But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator’s clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep”…

But what an interesting man.

 

moleskin erasmus small