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.

 

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Nasruddin or Nasrudin

 

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Nasruddin was the figure in the Richard Williams film  that I discovered in the early 70s. The film changed completely when it became the “Thief and the Cobbler” and the Nasruddin character disappeared. There are various stories about why this happened. Last Sunday Williams simply said that the original story and the original character did not work. Nasruddin, however, is still visible in a crowd scene riding on his donkey (which he rides backwards)… here are some drawings of statues in Turkey- one faintly comic and the other more respectful. He was a real character but he used humour and his stories are laced with unexpected incident and comment. however, Nasruddin turns up in Turkish legend as Nasreddin Hoja and then again in Albanian as Nastrudin Hoxha. I don’t know whether it is more appropriate to see Nasrudin as Turkish or Iranian: the oldest manuscript from 1571 suggests he was Turkish or active in Turkey. When we made the first version of “A torture Cartoon”, it made sense to add a version of Nasruddin because Necati is Turkish

 

and then later when we did “how to be Boss” we did a new design and told one of the many Nasruddin stories. You can find the sequence at about 2.39: “Have you told your wife who is boss in your own house? Don’t worry. She knows!”

 

There is a Pappas illustrated edition of stories which I would love to see. Otherwise, the best editions are those illustrated by Williams himself and the spectacular Errol le Cain

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  • The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasreddin, by Idries Shah, illustrated by Richard Williams.

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  • The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasreddin, by Idries Shah, illustrated by Richard Williams and Errol Le Cain

Here is a link to the “what is bread?” section in what is left of the Williams film with Kenneth Williams’ voice:

 

It is simply delightful to listen to Kenneth Williams, and Richard Williams version of Nasruddin is so elegant. The Williams character should be spelt “Nasrudin” of course. Apologies.

Alan Turing’s anniversary 7th June

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So many things going on today, like the D-day celebrations- though I am busy preparing notes on the problem of evil and the existence of heaven. Nevertheless, I thought it might be interesting to direct you to Jack of Kent’s website (http://jackofkent.com/about-the-law/) and specifically to his article in the New Statesman on the prosecution of Alan Turing (http://www.newstatesman.com/david-allen-green/2013/07/putting-right-wrong-done-alan-turing). The 60th Anniversary of Turing’s death is tomorrow and, while he has now received an official pardon and statues are springing up in Bletchley and other places to commemorate his astounding achievement, it remains a fact that Britain comes out looking very shabby from this story, as indeed it does from the parallel story of Oscar Wilde’s disgrace and subsequent death. It is not just the disgrace of Wilde that is important in the 19th Century, but the way that everyone connected with Wilde was brought down too with one puritanical salvo. I have been thinking alot about Aubrey Beardsley whose brief period of activity was certainly cut short by the Wilde scandal. Of course, the Turing story could have been much, much worse. Had he been “caught” a few years earlier, it is likely he would have been imprisoned and never completed or maybe even started his work at Bletchley. It may just be speculation but I fancy the war would have gone much worse for us without the development of the “mechanical brain”. The hand-wringing, therefore, about laws in Putin’s Russia looks a bit rich coming from the UK- Russia, at least, can sit back and lay claim to the fact that it had no hand in the comparable murder or suicide of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, that it has not yet driven great writers or great thinkers to their death because of some puritanical and outrageous piece of knee-jerk legislation- not yet, anyway… There are some curious aspects to the process of the law in this area in the UK. One of the men who was responsible for tightening up the laws against sodomy/buggery was a man called John Atherton, an Oxford man and later protestant Bishop of Waterford in Ireland. He was accused of having an affair with his servant, a tithe-collector called John Childe and both of them were hanged in 1640. In all likelihood, he was the victim of a conspiracy but it is worth reflecting on the way public sentiment turns against any form of salacious puritanism and how easily mud sticks when someone is accused. Maybe it is because our National hands are dirty/soiled, therefore, that we have a duty to talk to other countries about the stupidity of enacting silly restrictive and irrational laws that perpetuate prejudice, discrimination blackmail and fear. Because we understand the danger and the appalling consequences not just to the country itself but to the lawmakers.

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I did some drawings of a man, Robert Jenrick, who won against UKIP last night in the Newbury by election. His acceptance speech was a bit of a mess, but he clearly mounted a very good campaign against stiff opposition from Labour and Farrage. Congratulations.