Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sliding by

     "One recent conciliating book seeks to shed light on the religious situation in late antiquity by drawing parallels between Christians of that time and the LGBT movement of today. . . .  The gist of the argument, it seems, is that although people then and now have often been mistrustful of perceived differences, once they got to know the supposedly different folks ('The New Neighbors Who Moved in Next Door,' as one chapter title puts it), they come to realize that the differences are not of great importance and need not impede a cordial human fellowship.  Thus, by quietly getting to know their neighbors, and getting to be known by them, Christians 'made a place [for themselves] in Caesar's Empire.'
     "For this story line to work, the author has to emphasize and elevate those mostly inconspicuous Christians—'The Quieter Ones'—who were content to mingle unobtrusively, to join the Roman religious festivities, and (in disregard of the minimal essential prohibitions declared by the Christian council of Jerusalem) congenially to eat the meat sacrificed to pagan deities.  In other words, the author elevates the Christians who, then and now, would be regarded by more rigorous Christians as lax or lapsed or 'lukewarm.'  Conversely, the author disapproves of and attempts to marginalize, as unreasonable or 'antisocial,' those more fervent Christians—including nontrivial figures like Saint Paul, Saint John, Tertullian, Cyprian, Perpetua, Athanasius, Ambrose, Gregory of Nazianzus, Augustine, and John Chrysostom—who stood out as leaders and exemplars of the Christian movement, who wrote and expounded its sacred texts, who defined its doctrines, and who sometimes persisted in professing it even though this meant going to the cross or the pyre or the lions."

     Steven D. Smith, Pagans and Christians in the city:  culture wars from the Tiber to the Potomac (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2018), 105-106.  The book in question is Douglas Boin, Coming out Christian in the Roman world:  how the followers of Jesus made a place for themselves in Caesar's empire (New York:  Bloomsbury, 2015).

Monday, December 10, 2018

Saying goodbye

"He had assembled, with a long patience and real ability, an impressively complete library on the New Testament.  These books, they had been his entire life.  Yet the moment came when [unable to hold a pen or even, later, read] he had to part with them.  While they were being removed, he, already paralyzed and immobile in his wheelchair, put up a brave front.  But when [his] whole world had gone and the door had been shut [behind it], the tears came unbidden."

"Il s’était compose avec une longue patience et une réelle habileté une bibliothèque très complete sur le Nouveau Testament.  Ces livres, c’était sa vie tout entière.  Le moment vint cependant où il fallut s’en séparer.  Tandis qu’on les enlevait, lui, déjà perclus et immobile dans son fauteuil, faisait bonne contenance.  Mais quand tout le monde fut parti et la porte fermée, malgré lui les larmes vinrent."

     Emmanuel Podechard on the New Testament scholar Eugène-Jacques Jacquier (15 April 1847-7 February 1932), Bulletin des facultés catholiques de Lyon 54, [no. 2] (mars-juillet 1932):  19 (14-19).

Sunday, December 9, 2018

"when love comes forth in judgment"

     Stanza 4 of some paraphrases of the fourth stanza of the anonymous 5th-century (?) Advent hymn "Vox clara ecce intonat" (Analecta hymnica medii aevi 2 (1888), no. 20 on p. 35; Analecta hymnica medii aevi 51 (1908), no. 49 on p. 48-49Walpole, Early Latin hymns (1922), no. 86 on p. 304; Millful, Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon church (2006), pp. 186-187), rendered by Edward Caswall as "Hark! An awful voice is sounding," but by others as "Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding," "Hark! A herald voice is calling," etc. (it has undergone many modifications in English since Lyra Catholica (1849)).  According to the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, the Caswall translation was made from the modified Breviary text of 1632.