Learning NT Greek…and realising that I knew a bit more than I thought I did!

I didn’t expect to be thinking about kleptomaniacs and cardiac arrest when I embarked on reading St.Matthew’s gospel in Greek, but think about them I did. I now find myself thinking increasingly about the extent to which Greek has been woven into the English language and I am enjoying the realisation that I actually know a bit more about Greek than I thought I did, and that I am not a complete novice after all.

I’m sure that many people already know that ‘kardia’ is the Greek word for ‘heart’ and that the ‘klepto-‘ in ‘kleptomania’ comes from the Greek root ‘kelptes’ (to steal)… but I didn’t know this, until recently. Another ‘aha’ moment  for me came when I was reading the passage about ‘treasures on earth’ (Matthew 6:19)  and I realised that ‘thesaurus’ comes from  the Greek word for ‘treasure, store’  (thesauros). After all those years as an owner of a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus, how could I not know the etymology of the title of the book? My answer to that question is the same as my answer to many other similar questions – because I had other things on my mind, other things which took up my time and energy.

I’m really enjoying learning Greek. I made a slow start because it took me a while just to learn the alphabet. I was already, as no doubt many of us are, familiar with alpha, beta , gamma and delta (from grades at uni) and with pi ( from maths at school). I came unstuck at first with letters which I think of as ‘false friends’, for instance the ‘r’ that looks like a ‘p’, the ‘n’ that looks like a ‘v’ , and the ‘s’ which looks like an ‘o’ with a tiny flick at the top on the right-hand-side. I’m gradually becoming more familiar with it all.

The other NT Greek group members have considerable knowledge of Greek, and they have made we very welcome and I am learning a lot from them. I think that the fact that I grew up in a bilingual community ( in Wales) may also have stood me in good stead, because I was aware at a young age of people speaking a language I did not understand, but I was not daunted by it – I was just intrigued and wanted to know what they saying!

My own specialism was German, so I am not daunted by the intricacies of grammar, word order and so on, though I do need to brush up on some things, such as the passive subjunctive!

My next step its to try to work out how I can post words in Greek script on this blog – my laptop can do that, but unfortunately I can’t …yet.

So far, everyone I know who has studied Greek is very enthusiastic about it, and I have been given a lot of encouragement and help with my new venture.

My last word… well, for now… is that I think that the Greek script is very elegant. I really enjoy writing it and trying to make my handwritten version as lovely as the printed script in my Greek copy of the New Testament.

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St. Theresa’s Prayer

‘May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly

where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received,

and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones,

and allow your soul the freedom to sing,

dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.’

Crooked Healing: Disability, Vocation and the Theology of the Cross

Alastair's Adversaria

I am very excited to be able to host this guest post from Kelby Carlson on a theology of disability. This is such an important topic, but one which is seldom given the attention that it merits. Far from being an issue of limited relevance, I believe that Kelby’s article should alert us all to the deeper connection that questions surrounding disability have with some of the core themes of our Christian faith and practice, a connection that serves to bring greater light to truths that apply to each one of us. As such, it is not just an articulation of the character of the ministry of people with disabilities within the Church, but also a practice of that ministry. Please pass this on to others and leave your thoughts and interactions in the comments! – Alastair

Introduction

“I want to pray for you.”

I raise my head, instantly alert…

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‘He Do the Police in Different Voices’: On Speech and Language Policing

Jeanne de Montbaston

“And I’ll tell you another thing about the way women don’t Talk Proper …”
Filippo Lippi, Man and Woman at a Casement. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to speak, as T. S. Eliot puts it, ‘in different voices’. We use language as an index of belonging. At the moment, there’s an idiolect, which I’d like to imagine would immediately tell me whether or not I’m in the presence of the sisterhood. ‘Silencing’ is the new favourite Participle Of Oppression for all parties. Fourth wavers talk about language as a form of literal violence. Radfems say unsisterly things about fourth wavers and bite our tongues. We all thank the goddess for Rebecca Solnit coining the term ‘mansplaining’, and Deborah Cameron writes brilliant critiques of all the idiotic pseudo-scientific arguments that all misogyny would disappear if only women would learn to Talk…

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Fearfully and Wonderfully made

Random Ramblings

I started this post a while ago. The recent conversations about the sale of foetal tissue have brought all of my thoughts into sharper focus.

Advances in technology mean that we can take more and more control of the reproductive process. Embryos can be created in vitro using eggs and sperm harvested from people who may or may not be a couple. 

Embryos can be tested by pre-implantation diagnosis for the absence or presence of life-limiting genetic disorders. Just one cell removed from the bundle of cells which makes up the early embryo, can be processed to reveal the genetic make-up of all of the cells. Each cell is genetically identical and at this stage is pluripotent – capable of developing into any tissue.

To overcome motility or low sperm counts, sperm nuclei can be directly injected into eggs

I have wondered for some time how long it would be before “advances”…

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Abortion and Personhood

I hope that this will receive a wider readership.

Alastair's Adversaria

Reframing the Question of Personhood

The question of personhood rightly lies at the centre of debates over the issue of abortion. However, the way that this question is posed is seldom either helpful or illuminating. The concept of personhood that is operative within the question is one that is generally heavily freighted with problematic assumptions, on both sides of the debate. Within this post I want to suggest the possibility that we could press the question in a very different and more enlightening direction.

The question of personhood is habitually framed purely in the form of the question ‘is the fetus a person?’ By examining the characteristics of the unborn infant we are expected to reach some determination of whether it matches up to our standard of personhood.

A crucial underlying assumption here seems to be that personhood is an intrinsic property of a being. Yet such an assumption is…

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Neil Postman – Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection

Critical Thinking Snippets

Neil Postman’s classic essay Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection. Contains a handy taxonomy of forms of bullshit, and some useful “laws” such as: Almost nothing is about what you think it is about–including you.”

I’ve copied it here in this post just to help ensure it remains easily available on the web.

“Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection”

by Neil Postman

(Delivered at the National Convention for the Teachers of English [NCTE], November 28, 1969, Washington, D.C.)

With a title like this, I think I ought to dispense with the rhetorical amenities and come straight to the point. For those of you who do not know, it may be worth saying that the phrase, “crap-detecting,” originated with Ernest Hemingway who when asked if there were one quality needed, above all others, to be a good writer, replied, “Yes, a built-in, shock-proof, crap detector.”

As I see it, the…

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