Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fun Website

Tired of feeling guilty for wasting hours on stupid websites? Well now The Internet has brought you a site that lets you both improve yourself and help others. Free Rice is a site where you can test your vocabulary and donate rice to poorer parts of the world at the same time. Lots of fun, rather addictive (especially for those of us with an ego in the ring), and yet isn't an unproductive blight on mankind like, say, YouTube.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Reflection in Quotes of the Week Past

What I encountered in my reading during the week of October 7th.

The Noble (Beowulf 440-441):

Ðær gelyfan sceal
Dryhtnes dome se þe hine deað nimeð.

(Then he that death takes must trust the judgment of the Lord)

The Practical (Horace, Ars Poetica 268-269):

Vos exemplaria Graeca
Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna.

(Turn over the Greek examples in your hand by night, turn them over by day)

A Victorian Witticism (James Kirkland’s 1893 commentary to Ars Poetica 270):

“Horace turns aside to give Plautus another punch.”

The Cryptic (Socrates’ last words in Plato, Phaedo 118a):

“Crito, we owe a cock to Asclepius.”

The Scriptural (Isaiah 14:7-10, describing the downfall of the King of Babylon; NRSV):

The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
They break forth into singing.
The cypresses exult over you,
The cedars of Lebanon, saying,
“Since you were laid low,
No one comes to cut us down.”
Sheol beneath is stirred up
To meet you when you come;
It rouses the shades to greet you,
All who were leaders of the earth;
It raises from their thrones
All who were kings of the nations.
All of them will speak
And say to you:
“You have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!”

Monday, October 8, 2007

William Tyndale

I know it has been a long time since I posted last, and it vexes me somewhat, although it may be quite proper, to return with a memorial post itself a few days late. On October 6, 1536 William Tyndale was martyred in Brussels. He retained some of the authorities' respect for being a learned man, and so was strangled before they burnt him at the stake. The main achievement of his life was the translation of the scriptures, for the first time, from Greek and Hebrew into English, although he was unable to translate all of the Old Testament before he was arrested. His work exerted principal influence on all the English translations of the following century, and through its influence on the King James Bible, all English translations of the Bible thereafter. His modern scholarly partisans portray him as a key progenitor of literary English, and make all the stunning Elizabethan edifices stand on his foundation. But such an appraisal is merely an attempt ingratiate Tyndale to modern followers of the cult of genius and salvific art. Tyndale certainly held a bit of cultural patriotism about him in his work as a translator-- he writes, in The Obedience of a Christian Man, his most important non-translation work, "They will say it [the Bible] cannot be translated into our tongue it is so rude. It is not so rude as they are false liars. For the Greek tongue agreeth more with the English than with the Latin. And the properties of the Hebrew tongue agreeth a thousand times more with the English than with the Latin. The manner of speaking is both one, so that in a thousand places thou needest not but to translate it into the English word for word when thou must seek a compass in the Latin, and yet shalt have much work to translate it well favoredly, so that it have the same grace and sweetness, sense and pure understanding with it in the Latin, as it hath in the Hebrew. A thousand parts better may it be translated into the English than into the Latin."--but such flashes appear only in his continual fervor to bring scriptural, apostolic religion to the people of England, his countrymen; he must surely have taken deep personal meaning from Paul's words in Romans 9 about, as he translated it, the "great heaviness and continual sorrow in [his] heart...for [his] kinsmen and brethren as pertaining to the flesh."

He is to be admired more for his work and witness, but even in those whose worship knows other objects than Tyndale's Master I think his vigorous prose ought to find a healthy applause. I give you then his biting and certainly Christian critique of higher education, again from The Obedience of a Christian Man:

First they nosel them in sophistry and in benefundatum[1]. And there corrupt they their judgments with apparent arguments and with alleging unto them texts of logic, of natural philautia[2], of metaphysic and moral philosophy and of all manner books of Aristotle and of all manner doctors which they yet never saw. Moreover one holdeth this, another that. One is a Real, another a Nominal. What wonderful dreams they have of their predicaments, universals, second intentions, quiddities, haecceities, and relatives! And whether species fundata in chimera be vera species[3]. And whether this proposition be true, "non ens est aliquid."[4] Whether ens be equivocum or univocum[5]. Ens is a voice only say some. Ens in univocum saith another, and descendeth into ens creatum and into ens increatum per modos intrinsecos[6]. When they have this wise brawled eight, ten or twelve or more years, and after that their judgments are utterly corrupt, then they beginneth their Divinity. Not at the scriptures, but every man taketh a sundry doctor, which doctors are as sundry and as diverse, the one contrary unto the other, as there are diversifications and monstrous shapes, none like another, among our sects of religion. Every religion, every university and almost every man hath a sundry divinity. Now whatsoever opinions every man findeth with his doctor, that is his gospel and that only is true with him and that holdeth he all his life long, and every man to maintain his doctor withal corrupteth the scripture and fashioneth it after his own imagination as a potter doth his clay. Of what text thou provest hell, will another prove purgatory, another limbo patrum[7], and another shall prove of the same text that an ape hath a tail. And of what text the greyfriar proveth that Our Lady was without original sin, of the same shall the blackfriar prove that she was conceived with original sin. And all of this do they with apparent reasons, with false similitudes and likenesses, and with arguments and persuasions of man's wisdom. Now there is no other division or heresy in the world save man's wisdom and when man's foolish wisdom interpreteth the scripture. Man's wisdom scattereth, divideth, and maketh sects, while the wisdom of one is that a white coat is best to serve God in, and another saith a black, another a grey, another a blue; and while one saith that God will hear your prayer in this place, another saith in that place; and while saith this place is holier, and another that place is holier, and this religion is holier than that, and this saint is greater with God than that and a hundred thousand like things. Man's wisdom is plain idolatry, neither is there any other idolatry than to imagine of God after man's wisdom. God is not man's imagination, but that only which he saith of himself. God is nothing but his law and his promises, that is to say, that which he biddeth thee to do, and that which he biddeth thee believe and hope. God is but his word; as Christ saith (John 8) "I am that I say unto you," --that is to say, that which I preach am I-- "My words are spirit and life."[8] God is that only which he testifieth of himself, and to imagine any other thing of God than that is damnable idolatry.

[1] A good foundation
[2] Self love
[3] Whether a form made into a monster (i.e. imaginary) is a true form
[4] "A not being is something"
[5] Whether "being" is of ambiguous meaning or a single meaning.
[6] "being into single meaning" "created being" "being increate through intrinsic means"
[7] The Limbo of the Fathers, where the righteous who died before Christ would dwell
[8] From John's gospel, but chapter 6, whereas the first quote is from chapter 8.