Monday, January 31, 2022

Luke 5.1-11 Translations and Notes (RCL 5th Sunday after Epiphany Year C)

Shoreline of Lake of Gennesaret = Sea of Galilee at Capernaum looking SW to the Arbel
Luke 5.1-11 is the designated Revised Common Lectionary Text for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany in Year C which occurs on February 6, 2022. It recounts Jesus' calling of his first disciples (Simon, James, and John), but Luke has decided to reorder the story he inherits from Mark considerably. Luke put Jesus' 'inaugural' address first at 4.16-30, an event that doesn't happen until chapter 6 in Mark. Then Luke 4.31-37 picks up Mark 1.21-28 where Jesus casts out an unclean spirit in the Capernaum synagogue followed by Jesus' stay at Simon's house with the healings he performs there and the subsequent Galilean ministry. (Mark 1.29-39 // Luke 4.38-44) Note that in Mark, Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James, and John before he did anything in Capernaum. In Luke, Jesus has already stayed at Simon's house before he calls him as a disciple! Why would Luke do this? In Mark, Jesus calls the first disciples, and they mysteriously begin to follow him without any explanation why. In Luke, they have already seen Jesus perform a number of miracles, including the catch of fish in the story at hand, and so when he calls them to follow him, it does make good sense.

I have a compilation of translations of Luke 5.1-11 including my own. Though Luke is usually precise with his grammar, this story evidences a strong oral character. There are incomplete sentences, brief exclamations, explanatory asides... Again, most English translations smooth it all so that it reads well, but I encourage you to look at my translation which I think 'sounds' in English much more like the Greek actually 'sounds.' Let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Greek New Testament Wordle!

 Wordle has become a fun distraction on the web. If you've somehow missed it, it's like the old Mastermind game where you try to guess a five letter word in six tries. You get hints after each guess whether you got the right letter or not and in the right spot or not. There is a new word each day, so it's not some deep hole on the web you'll get sucked into that will take up all your time.

And now... the amazing James Tauber has created a Greek New Testament Wordle! It works on the same principles. Do note that you can't type in the letters. Use the keyboard at the bottom. Also note that the words are all words in the actual GNT text. (I.e., all the inflected forms, not lexical ones.) Like regular Wordle, it will tell you if your guess is not in the word database. (Don't forget to use final sigma.) Tauber says that, "with case-folding and diacritic removal but with movable ν and ς supported, there are 1,444 five-letter words in the SBLGNT main text" available.

So I'm going to use it and encourage my students to use it simply as a way to keep Greek in front of them. Every little bit helps! 

This will also give you an excuse to use your Bible software. E.g., in Accordance, do a search on the Greek text for "?????" using the quotation marks. Then open an Analysis tab. Then click on the customize gear in upper right. Drag over INFLECT and delete LEX. There's your list of 5 letter words in the GNT! Have fun!

Some of my former students who are still using the venerable BibleWorks program were wondering how to get the list of words.
In the command line:

BNT             < BNT will only give NT words which is what you want
.?????         < That will give you all five letter Greek words; to see the list:
Tools > Analyzing the text > Word List Manager
Load or Generate List
Load highlighted words from last query / Verse Range Reset > Create list
There's your list of 1596 possible words!
If you need more help, and, e.g., you know the last letters are omicron and nu
One more thing: final sigma is regarded as a different letter than regular sigma.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Luke 3.15-22 Translations and Notes (RCL Baptism of Our Lord; First Sunday after Epiphany Year C)

Fresco in St. John The Baptist Roman Church at Bethany Beyond the Jordan
The appointed RCL text for the Baptism of Our Lord = First Sunday after Epiphany Year C is Luke 3.15-17, 21-22. I'm guessing they wanted to focus just on the baptism part, but it makes no sense to me to omit verses 18-20, so I'm sharing Luke 3.15-22 here.

A few things worth noting from a close reading of the text:

  • Clearly there was some speculation that John the Baptist was a messianic figure. In Luke's depiction of him (especially in contrast to Matthew and Mark), his role is downplayed. He is locked up in prison apparently before Jesus is baptized! My suspicion is that this is part of Luke’s plan to minimize John’s role and separate him from Jesus. (Cf. John 3.30!) Note that the execution of John is never detailed except for a passing reference in Luke 9.9. Also note the ongoing influence of John the Baptist in Acts 18.24-28 and 19.1-10 over against the community of Jesus followers. Apparently there continued to be speculation whether John or Jesus was the more important figure.
  • In verse 18, how are John's "exhortations" understood to be the "gospel / good news"? 
  • The Greek is rather clunky in this passage. Verses 15-17 are one sentence, and John's quote in verses 16-17 is especially complicated. Greek admired a long subordinated sentence, but I think this stretches matters. Verses 19-20 and 21-22 are similarly complicated and need help to get into English.

Here are my collection of translations and my notes on translating.