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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Blessed With The Deep, The Silent, The Complete

This Wikipedia gives a synopsis of the origin and progeny of the goddess Night (Nyx) in Greek mythology. I’m only pasting it here because it gives a list of cool Greek words to know. Like night/νυξ.
In Hesiod‘s Theogony, Nyx [Νυξ] is born of Chaos [χαος]; her offspring are many, and telling. With Erebus [Ερεβος] the deity of shadow and darkness, Nyx gives birth to Aether [αιθηρ] (atmosphere) and Hemera (day) [ημερα]. Later, on her own, Nyx gives birth to Momus [μωμος] (blame), Moros [μορος] (doom), Thanatos [θανατος] (death), Hypnos [υπνος] (sleep), Charon (the ferryman of Hades),[citation needed] the Oneiroi [ονειροι] (dreams), the Hesperides, the Keres [κηρες, κηρ] and Moirae (Fates), Nemesis [νεμεσις] (retribution), Apate [απατη] (deception), Philotes [φιλοτης] (friendship), Geras [γηρας] (age), and Eris [ερις] (strife).
This has a parallel with many Gnostic concepts that also offer some good Greek words to know:
1. [The Valentinians] maintain, then, that in the invisible and ineffable heights above there exists a certain perfect, pre-existent Æon [αιων – age/eternity], whom they call Proarche [προαρχη – pre-beginning], Propator [προπατηρ – pre-father], and Bythus [βυθος – deep], and describe as being invisible and incomprehensible. Eternal and unbegotten, he remained throughout innumerable cycles of ages in profound serenity and quiescence. There existed along with him Ennœa [εννοια – thought], whom they also call Charis [χαρις – grace/charm] and Sige [σιγη – silence]. At last this Bythus determined to send forth from himself the beginning of all things, and deposited this production (which he had resolved to bring forth) in his contemporary Sige, even as seed is deposited in the womb. She then, having received this seed, and becoming pregnant, gave birth to Nous [νους – mind], who was both similar and equal to him who had produced him, and was alone capable of comprehending his father’s greatness. This Nous they call also Monogenes [μονογενης – only-born], and Father, and the Beginning of all Things. Along with him was also produced Aletheia [αληθεια – truth]; and these four constituted the first and first-begotten Pythagorean Tetrad, which they also denominate the root of all things. For there are first Bythus and Sige, and then Nous and Aletheia. And Monogenes, perceiving for what purpose he had been produced, also himself sent forth Logos [λογος – logic/reason] and Zoe [ζωη – life], being the father of all those who were to come after him, and the beginning and fashioning of the entire Pleroma [πληρωμα – fullness]. By the conjunction of Logos and Zoe were brought forth Anthropos [ανθρωπος – man/humanity] and Ecclesia [εκκλησια – assembly/church]; and thus was formed the first-begotten Ogdoad [ογδοας – eightfold], the root and substance of all things, called among them by four names, viz., Bythus, and Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos. For each of these is masculo-feminine, as follows: Propator was united by a conjunction with his Ennœa; then Monogenes, that is Nous, with Aletheia; Logos with Zoe, and Anthropos with Ecclesia. (Against Heresies 1.1.1)
I linked to Ogdoad in Wikipedia because that word seems to have roots in Egyptian mythology, and Valentinus is supposed to have been educated in Egypt. Also, “Deep Silent Complete” (close enough to Βυθος, Σιγη, Πληρωμα) is one of my favorite Nightwish songs (even though it reminds me a bit of my ex-fiancee). This song is also about another personified god in Ancient Greek myth, “Ocean” (Οκεανος).
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Posted by on November 29, 2010 in gnosticism, koine greek

 

Isaiah 9:5 – Another Misinterpereted Messainic Passage

5 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

6 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of YHWH almighty will accomplish this.  

The phrase “ElGibor” should be rendered as “God is Mighty,” not “Mighty God.” It's a theophoric name, that's all.

The word “El” was incorporated into Hebrew names on a regular basis: Mi'K'El = Michael = “who is like God.” Natan-I-El = Nathaniel = “Was Given to me (by) God.” It would be just as much a mistake to translate these names as meaning “this person is like God” or “God given to me” as it is to translate ElGibor as “mighty God.”

The name Elijah is composed of Eli (God) and Jah, which is short for Jahovah. The name Gabriel (גַּבְרִיאֵל) is constructed of exactly the same words as El Gibor (אֵל גִּבּוֹר). But it does not mean that the angel Gabriel is YHWH. The name Danel (not Daniel, Ezekiel 14:14, דנאל) means Judement of God. The name Emmanuel which means God [is] with us does not mean that any person named Emmanuel is the conduit of YHWH – though the writer of Matthew does some mental gymnastics to make this apply to Jesus. The name Ahijah means Brother of YHWH. There's no one who thinks that YHWH has a literal brother.

The commas in that translation are not in the original. Neither are the capitalized words.The way most Jews understand it is as follows:

“And he will be called wonderful, counselor, God-is-mighty, always father, prince of peace.”

So all you have is a Jewish Messianic prophecy listing the various names and titles which will be conferred to Messiah if/when he comes.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2010 in apologetics, hebrew

 

Why Is There So Much Negativity Associated With Religious Belief?

A while back I made a post outlining some of the problems with religion. Religion seems to make people more close minded and intolerant, while the benefits of religion are really only the result of the social support networks they provide. Meaning that, if religion disappeared but their social support networks remained intact, we would get all of the benefits of religion with much less of its drawbacks. This means that the UU church – with its high number of unbelieving members – does the same amount of social good as any other church filled with believers.
 
I made another post where I wrote why I think this is (and in that post, the girlfriend refused to go to a UU church). It is the dogmatism associated with religious belief that creates so much of the negative behavior associated with religion. But is dogmatism the cause or the effect of being religious? Does religion make you dogmatic, or does inherent dogmatism make you more primed to be religious? Here are some other negative traits associated with religiosity from this other post on the blog “Life Without A Net”, the Need for Closure

..dogmatism (Francis, 2001, for review), authoritarianism (Duck & Hunsberger, 1999;Leak & Randall, 1995), risk avoidance (Miller & Hoffmann, 1995), low spontaneous humor creation (Saroglou, in press; Saroglou & Jaspard, 2001), low openness to experience (Saroglou, 2002b, for review), stereotypical thinking (Watson et al., 1999),non-proscribed prejudice (Batson et al., 1993;Duck & Hunsberger, 1999), in-group favouritism (Burris & Jackson, 1999; Jackson & Hunsberger, 1999), values emphasizing the need for reduction of uncertainty (values of conformity, tradition and security) and low importance attributed to the values emphasizing openness to change (values of self-direction and stimulation)  (Beyond dogmatism: The need for closure as related to religion. Saroglou, Vassilis; Mental Health, Religion & Culture, Vol 5(2), Jul, 2002. pp. 183-194.)

Most importantly, there seem to be two types of people in the world. Those who need certainty, and those who do not need it:

Enter the Need for Closure.  This psychological trait is defined in five parts, as follows:

(1) ‘desire definite order and structure in their lives and abhor unconstrained chaos and disorder’ (preference for order);

(2) ‘would experience as aversive situations devoid of closure’ (discomfort with ambiguity);

(3) desire a secure or stable knowledge, that means ‘a knowledge that can be relied across circumstances and is unchallenged by exceptions or disagreements’(preference for predictability);

(4) ‘do not desire that their knowledge is confronted by alternative opinions or inconsistent evidence’ (close-mindedness); and

(5) feel ‘an urgency of striving for closure in judgment and decision-making’(decisiveness) (Webster & Kruglanski, 1994, p. 1050).

One of the first indications that we’re on the right track is that Need for Closure is negatively associated with Need for Cognition. That is, people who are drawn towards active critical thought and problem solving are unlikely to like “set in stone” answers.  They tend to dislike dogma and prefer to pursue evidence until and unless they reach a suitable conclusion.

Second, people with high Need for Closure tend strongly to prefer any answer to no answer, so much so that there is a subconscious tendency to view someone who claims to have an answer more favorably from the start than someone who is undecided or open-minded.  This tends to make them biased towards accepting claims from people with dogmatic opinions.  Maybe that’s why some people can be part of dogmatic religions without scoring high on dogmatism scales. 

In other studies, it seems as though when you prime people to make them feel uncertain or out of control, they intensify their religious beliefs. This seems to be why certain people are drawn to the claims of the religious, no matter how ridiculous the belief actually is when looked at objectively. They are convinced by the mere act of conviction instead of the actual content. I am unaware of anyone who sat down and read, say, the New Testament like they read the morning newspaper and after reading the stories of reanimated bodies marching out of tombs and floating zombie apocalypses that the stories were true. No, it seems more likely that people have some sort of religious experience and then, without even reading their Bibles, conclude that the [general] story is true only because of their need for closure. Kind of like downloading iTunes and not even reading the Agreement, but scrolling down immediately to the bottom and clicking “I Agree” just so they can have some closure on their baffling experience.

It seems to me that the Need for Closure has the most obvious link to dogmatism.

So if this true – that the reason most people are religious is that they prefer the Need for Closure over the Need for Cognition – then what next? What would be a good way of establishing dialogue with these people? It seems as though the Need for Closure is the cause of a lot more problems than religion (namely politics).

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2010 in cognitive science

 

iPhones and Koine Greek

So I just bought an iPhone on Friday and I've been playing around with apps. It seems there are a wealth of apps on the iPhone that help with studying languages. I've downloaded some to help with learning Koine Greek. One app I've downloaded is the “DailyWord” app that has a word of the day. Today's word is παλιν which means “again”. If παλιν sounds familar, it is – that is Sarah Palin's last name lol!
 
Now we have the wonderful opportunity to lament every time she shows up in the news. “Not Sarah again…” 
 
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Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

You Foolish Galatians!

Galatians 3:1

You foolish Galatians! Who has tricked you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was portrayed as crucified.

ω ανοητοι γαλαται! τις υμας εβασκανεν? οις κατ’ οφθαλμους ιησους χριστος προεγραφη εσταυρωμενος

So what does Paul mean when he writes προεγραφη? Why do modern translations have “portrayed”? It looks like Paul is referring to some previous writing. The only other time Paul uses προεγραφη is in Romans 15:4:

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

οσα γαρ προεγραφη [παντα] εις την ημετεραν διδασκαλιαν εγραφη ινα δια της υπομονης και δια της παρακλησεως των γραφων την ελπιδα εχωμεν

Here it is translated as “written”. So Paul must not mean “portrayed” in Galatians 3:1; that has connotations of being some sort of drawing or play or reenactment or something. “Portrayed” is pretty ambiguous. He must be talking about a previous letter that was written, or some sort of scriptures.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2010 in galatians, paul

 

Mark Implicitly Teaching His Readers Aramaic for Narrative Purpose

Mark 10:46

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, the Son of Timaeus [that is] Bartimaeus (ο υιος τιμαιου βαρτιμαιος), was sitting by the roadside begging.

Mark 14:35-36

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. And he said, ““Abba, Father, (αββα ο πατηρ) everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Mark 15:7, 11

A man called Barabbas (ο λεγομενος βαραββας) was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising
[…]
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas (βαραββαν) instead.

I think it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. Reading Mark from beginning to end, the reader is presented first with a guy who is the son of Timaeos, Bartimaeos. It can be inferred that “bar” means “son of”.

Next, Jesus has a redundant prayer, where he says “Abba, father…”. This is a bit more of a stretch, but it seems as though Mark is going out of his way to mention that “Abba” means “father” since Jesus would presumably be praying originally in Aramaic. This pericope implies that Jesus is praying in Greek. The redundancy of Jesus’ prayer is removed in Matt’s and Luke’s rendition of this pericope.

Following this, the astute reader will notice that we have encountered a character called “bar” (the son of) “abba” (father). I thought Jesus was the son of the father? Here we have some of the strongest irony in Mark. A character called son of the father who was a murderer and insurrectionist – who rightly deserves crucifixion – is released and the Jews hand Jesus (the real son of the father) over to be unjustly crucified. I included the Greek to show the grammatical forms that “Barabbas” takes. One is accusative (which means it ends in Nu [ν]) and one is nominative (ends in Sigma [ς]). This means that the “s” at the end of “Barabbas” the English translations I’ve read isn’t necessarly part of the name. So it should be “Barabba”. In some manuscripts of Matthew, Barabba’s first name is “Jesus”. So again we have a Jesus who is only son of the father in name unjustly released, and a Jesus who is the real son of the father unjustly crucified.

How ironic!

On the flip side of things, a character named “Peter” (Πετρος) first appears in Mark’s gospel. In Greek, the word for stone or rock is πετρα, so that is what “Peter” is – a rock or stone. This is what the Aramaic name Cephas (and Caiaphas) means. Cephas is one of the “pillars” that Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians. Now why would Mark translate Cephas’ Aramaic name literally into Greek? Well, Mark is writing in Greek so there must have been some reason he wanted his readers to know that Cephas meant “rock”.

Here is the Parable of the Sower:

Mark 4:1-12
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times.”

[…]

“The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky [πετρωδες] places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Peter, the Rock, receives the Word with joy. But once trouble comes around, he flees (Mark 14:66-72). Mark is pretty hostile to the disciples, calling them dull and such. This fits with Mark’s overall theme of disciple-dissing. I don’t think that this parable is a coincidence. I think that Mark translated Cephas’ name into Greek so that Greek readers of his Greek narrative would get the parable of Peter’s fickleness. Of course, Matthew turned this literalization of Cephas’ name into a positive: “I say you are Peter. And on this rock I will build my church” (Matt 16:18).

I think the other Aramaism in Mark are a smokescreen (or verisimilitude) to prevent the reader with less gnosis from understanding:

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables

Clever.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2010 in aramaic, aramaism, gospel of mark

 

Αποστολοι και Προφητες

Apostles and Prophets.

The phrase “apostles and prophets” seems to be unique to Christianity (at least at first glance, I haven’t had a chance to read other Intertestamental works yet). Probably because Christianity first and foremost is an evangelistic religion (as opposed to Judaism). And the obsession with “prophets” is due to the link with Judaism. Anyway, I did a quick search using biblegateway.com and here are the few places where the phrase “apostles and prophets” is used in the canonical NT:

Luke 11:49

Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.

1 Corinthians 12:28

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:29

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

Ephesians 2:20

built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 3:5

which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.

Ephesians 4:11

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists (ευαγγελιστας), and some to be pastors and teachers,

2 Peter 3:2

I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

Revelation 18:20

Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.

I was thinking that because Luke is the only gospel to use “apostles and prophets” that it had some connection with Paul. However, Paul is unique in that he always lists “apostles” before “prophets” so this might mean that Luke is ony emulating Pauline language. This also might mean that Ephesians is an authentic Pauline epistle since it uses the same type of language in the same order. However on the other hand, it uses ευαγγελιστας (good news-ists) which is a word that the authentic seven never uses.

I’ll have to do a bit further reading in other Christian and 2nd temple Judaism literature to see if there’s a larger pattern.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2010 in early Christianity, paul

 
 
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