Monthly Archives: September 2016

Nobody takes care of Lazarus

Not even the very evangelist, as he describes Lazarus as a passive, dumb character: no feelings or thoughts has Lazarus but hunger and his empty stomach. He is just the model of the poor ones we have also today next to us;  we often do not know what they think or feel because they can not even type with a keyboard, as I’m doing now, and express themselves.

However, dogs do want him. Some believe that dogs come and compete against him for the crumbs. On the contrary, I think more positively on the base of the symbolic value of dogs in the ancient Mesopotamia and in the hellenistic world. For example: Professor Charpin tells us (in French), the dog was the typical pet of the goddess Gula, the doctor goddess. Please, look at the video from minute 6 on:

http://www.college-de-france.fr/site/dominique-charpin/course-2014-11-26-14h30.htm

No problem if you cannot understand French. Professor Charpin shows a quite pretty parade of ancient art describing the association between dog licking and skin therapies. Yes, these cute pets were a natural medicament against some dermatological diseases. So, Lazarus could enjoy a dogs love at least.

What is quite clear from the Evangelist is the forename of the poor one. It is a key name meaning “God (in Semitic, El, from this term is derived the Arabic Allah ) has helped.” Following those rules on evolution for phonetic sounds -so well known by philologists- El ‘azar became  Lazar in Syriac and then Lazarus, in Latin.

Perhaps that is why the rich man from the other world asks -without any success- for help from Lazarus: because the name  of the poor one implies “God’s help“.

So, what about looking after the poor without waiting for our underworld tour?

Very ancient traces

The epistle of this 25th Sunday in ordinary time cites-according to experts- the refrain of an old hymn or formula of faith in verses 5 to 6a of  1Ti 2. A kind of ride by the time machine towards the era of the first Jesus communities. As a matter of fact, verses 3 to 6a are very dense: it redirects to high-level theology .  But that is just not the subject of this blog. Let’s better embark on a little   tour  with words, a sort of handycraft with language.

Most known modern translations employ sensitive words: saviour, redemption … I would better suggest coming back to some of the very origins: for exemple,  to the standard version  of the Bible in Syriac, called Peshitta, offered to all us thanks to DUKHRANA tool http://www.dukhrana.com/peshitta/

It is worthy reminding that Syriac is an ancient Semitic language, very next to the possible mother tongue of Jesus, a kind of Aramaic dialect. In our selected fragment, we find a recurrent Syriac lexical root: ܚܝܐ which means LIFE.  By the way, this root is just the same also in Hebrew, Arabic, classical Ethiopic and so on -of course, changing the usual letters for  each one of every language-.

Obviously, the persistence of this root with meaning of “life” does not imply that soteriology (a theological branch that deals with the concept of “salvation”) could be minimized to the rank of a reflection about life. Nevertheless, (good) life is an aspect closely related to salvation. If we would stay among gourmets, it would be said  that rice is to paella (a Spanish receipt) what life means to salvation.

Here is my own versión-specially for your eyes- of 1Ti 2, 3-6a:

“This (prayers, thankgivings, etc, mentioned in previous verses)  is beautiful and acceptable to God, who gives life (it is employed a kind of active participle of a verb with a lexical content next to “giving life “). He wants all human beings to live (again, the same root) and to pay attention to the knowledge of the truth.

One is God,
one is the mediator of God and of the human beings:
Jesus, the man, the Messiah.
He is himself the one who gives ransom in favour to everybody.”

It remains a high density text but I think  that, somehow, we simplify the equation. If you desire so, classical translations to compare with may be also found in the mentioned website of DUKHRANA.

And a last comment: experts in liturgy cut the reading of the Biblical text just in verse 8. Personally, I find it better that way, because if not, then some specific advice for ladies comes next and, nowadays, perhaps this precise piece of advice may be considered not always politically correct. Although from a certain point of view, some of these recommendations can also be regarded as “unisex” as far as some gentlemen could exercise some more austerity too.

Have a nice Sunday-

OVS of the Bible

The aim of this blog is “ruminating” the Bible according to its original version in Semitic languages: Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic …

New technological tools (hypertext, language learning methodologies, automatic grammatical analysis) help us to taste the flavour of  the biblical texts in original languages. In 15th century there was a change of paradigm in biblical readings. Something analogous is to come due to nowadays supports and software of information.

The result of that biblical tasting will bring happiness to the believer because she/he will find reasons to thank God for having received surprisingly undeserved gifts, but the unbeliever will bring too at any case the award of having enjoyed good literature. Remember, please, professor Frye: http://heritage.utoronto.ca/northropfryelectures

And as the movement is demonstrated by walking, let’s go into the first reading of this 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: prophet Amos. As a matter of fact, in a certain way, Amos sounds like “Laudato sì”. However our experts in liturgy have cut, abruptly, in verse 7 just when a thrilling apocalypse begins.

I guess the reason for not including the verse 8 in our Sunday reading is that there are some “scars” suffered by the text of this verse during its long, ancient transmission to us. One of these “scars” is that one related with the appearance of a “light” on the standard Masoretic text which became a “river” in other authoritative versions (Greek LXX, Syriac Peshitta and others). Another possible scar is a verb that is not understandable because perhaps it was a very old copyist error, so old that the Jewish sages have not considered reverent to correct it. So, they inserted in the margin a MASORETIC note (Qere, reading) in order to keep the traditional -possibly wrong- way of writing, but indicating the understandable way to read the word.

However, the problem I find is related to modern translations of verse 7. This verse can be translated not like as we have in our bibles, but in a quite another way if the Hebrew connector  אִם is taken  like an “if” (conditional) or a “but”. It’s just the way followed by our old  medieval Castilian masters on translation. Please, take the pleasure of visiting the glorious internet pages of corpus “Biblia Medieval” http://corpus.bibliamedieval.es/

No problem if you are not fluent in old Castilian. Here you have my own version:

7 The Lord has sworn by the glory of Jacob:

“If I would forget forever all of their misdeeds …

And with the truncation, the sentence remains suspended. We should better continue

will the earth then not rise against that,

leaving in mourning all of its inhabitants? “.

The whole of it will rise like a lightning

becoming dragged and flooded

as if it were the Nile of Egypt!

9 In that day it shall come to happen the things that YHWH the Lord announced …

(And a series of God caused apocalyptic cataclysms follows with the narrative)

All of this makes me remind strongly this Jesus’ wording: “I tell you that if they remain silent, then the stones will cry” (Lk 19:40). I think that Amos’ text has a kind of rethoric in which, if God and / or humans would remain inactive against injustice, then the Creation itself could react. It looks like as if creatures, even without conscience or reason, would have its own code.

I hope you may have enjoyed this very first entry of my blog. Let me tell you that if you can read Spanish, the “brother” blog of this site is freely  offered to you in https://bibliababel.wordpress.com/

 I do wait for your corrections and comments. Have a happy autumn!