Tag Archives: Greek

Four Gospels: What, Why, and When?

By Joseph Manning

The four canonical Gospels of the New Testament were decided upon fairly early in fledgling church’s career to be the only acceptable Gospels. One scholar places the upper limit of the final dating for the four-fold Gospel Canon at around the year 150. Frederick C. Grant, The Gospels: Their Origin and Their Growth 13 (1983) . This is only an upper limit, and the Gospels were probably finalized much earlier; but even 150 is relatively early in church history. The Gospels necessarily had to be finished around that time: unwritten texts cannot be canonized, and the contemporary agreement of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria was that the canonicity of the four Gospels was accepted by the end of the second century. Tatian, who was writing even slightly before Irenaeus and the others also held a view of four Gospels. This hints that Justin Martyr (ca. 150) also held this view, because Tatian was his disciple.  Most interestingly, however, are the clues found in the Shepherd of Hermas, which point to the four-fold Gospels as well as serving as a source for some of Irenaeus’ later ideas on the subject.  The church widely regarded the Gospels as having been written by apostles or their followers rather early; and these texts were canonized quite soon after they were all written.

The Four Evangelists represented by their four symbols: Matthew, a winged man; Mark, a winged lion; Luke, a winged bull or ox; and John, an eagle.

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The Transition of the Ministry in the Early Church

By Joseph Manning

The following paper was presented by me at the Second Annual Student Religious Studies Conference put on by the Midwest Region of the Society of Biblical Literature at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. It was written in November 2007 for a classical studies course at Tulane University taught by Dr. Lawrence Lahey titled “Ancient Christianity.” The course introduced students to the history of the Ancient Christian movement within the Roman Empire. It illustrated the historical developments through the emergence of the canon of the New Testament writings from the second through the fourth centuries.

The paper views the phenomenon of Christianity through a historical lens — specifically the resulting organization that formed around this rapidly developing movement. The paper argues that the “three-fold ministry” of bishops, priests, and deacons was a later development only springing up from an earlier and more primitive “two-fold” ministry comprised solely of priests and deacons (and before even that, an even earlier loose organization centered around charismatics). Of particular interest to some readers may be the parts of the paper relating to the origin of the papacy.

Essentially, this paper tracks the shift of Christianity from inspired religious cult and persecuted movement to the powerful bureaucracy seen in the post-classical era.

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A Woman’s Status under Roman Law and in the Early Church

By Joseph Manning

Women in Roman law were never completely independent. J.F. Gardner, Women in Roman Law and Society, p. 5 (Indiana University Press 1991). The pater familias created an unbalanced power dynamic in at least a legal sense. R.P. Saller, Patriarchy, Property and Death in the Roman Family, p. 104 (Cambridge University Press 1994). Roman society was a patriarchy that was very concerned with morality, and women were either subservient or stigmatized.

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Making Sense of Samson

By Joseph Manning

Probably one of the most bizarre stories in the Hebrew Bible is the story of Samson. The story of Samson is generally confused. The narrative is sketchy and full of riddles and often makes allusions the author seems to expect the reader to be able to connect but are meaningless to modern readers. It becomes much more clearer when viewed through the lens of ancient near-eastern mythology. Samson (שמשון) is related to ‘shamash’ (שמש) or “sun,” while his infamous wife’s name, Delilah (דלילה), is related to ‘lilah’ (לילה), the Hebrew word for “night.”  He is a solar mythic hero related to Gilgamesh, the hero of the Babylonian myth, and Hercules, the Greek mythic hero. (Indeed, Gilgamesh’s patron deity is the sun-god Shamash).

A statue of Samson in Ashdod depicting his toppling the pillars of the temple to Dagon in his dying moments.

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Refusal to Eat: Witches in Homer and the Hebrew Bible

By Joseph Manning

“[T]wo universal constants about witch beliefs cut across cultures: witches represent people’s deepest fears about themselves and society, and they represent a reversal of all that is considered normal behavior in a particular society.” James L. Brain, An Anthropological Perspective on the Witchcraze, “Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion: An Anthropological Study of the Supernatural,” 265 (eds. P. Moro, J. Myers, & A. Lehmann, 7th ed. 2008).

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The Language of Blackbirds — Pig Latin, Korakistika, and Ķus Dili

By Joseph Manning

Turkish and Modern Greek have language games like English’s Pig Latin.  These two languages’ games are syllable based like Pig Latin and show signs of being related to each other.  For example, Modern Greek’s game is called Korakistika, which translates to ‘Language of Blackbirds.’ Likewise, the Turkish game is called Ķus Dili which literally means ‘Bird Language.’ Barıs Kabak, “Hiatus Resolution in Turkish: an Under Specification Account,” Lingua (2006) 15.  Besides the similarities in these two names the game rules are almost exact duplicates. Language games offer some pretty valuable opportunities to explore the grammatical rules languages have.

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Sour Grapes

The Fox and Grapes

By Joseph Manning

I’ve got a version of Aesop’s fable “Fox and Grapes” for you today that I’ve abridged slightly.  This version introduces a mouse who taunts the fox.  You may have already seen the Greek word for ‘fox’ in another post.

A fox seeing a cluster of ripe grapes on a trellis was desiring to eat them, but was unable to find a way to eat as they were at some height. A mouse seeing this laughed aloud saying: “You’ll munch on nothing.” The fox not wanting to give credit to the mouse said: “They are sour grapes.”

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Update: Tiberius Gracchus, Jesus, and the Louisiana Law of Common Things

By Joseph Manning

I noted a similarity between Plutarch and the New Testament in an earlier post.  After some very brief research on JSTOR nothing came up immediately.  I did realize two things though.

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John’s 2nd Letter – Sentence 1/10

By Joseph Manning

John’s second letter is the shortest book in the entire bible.  There are only ten full sentences. Here’s the first:

[1] Ο ΠΡΕΣΒΥΤΕΡΟΣ ἐκλεκτῇ κυρίᾳ καὶ τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῆς, οὓς ἐγὼ ἀγαπῶ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, καὶ οὐκ ἐγὼ μόνος ἀλλὰ καὶ πάντες οἱ ἐγνωκότες τὴν ἀλήθειαν, [2] διὰ τὴν ἀλήθειαν τὴν μένουσαν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἔσται εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα: [3] ἔσται μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη παρὰ θεοῦ πατρός, καὶ παρὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ πατρός, ἐν ἀληθείᾳ καὶ ἀγάπῃ.

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Matthew chapter 1: David to the Babylonian Exile

By Joseph Manning

Let’s continue with the book of Matthew.  When we left off we were in the middle of Jesus’ genealogy ending at David.  Here are the next 6 verses:

Δαυεὶδ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Σολομῶνα ἐκ τῆς τοῦ Οὐρίου, [7] Σολομὼν δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ῥοβοάμ, Ῥοβοὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀβιά, Ἀβιὰ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀσάφ, Ἀσὰφ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσαφάτ, [8] Ἰωσαφὰτ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωράμ, Ἰωρὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ὀζείαν, [9] Ὀζείας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωαθάμ, Ἰωαθὰμ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἄχας, Ἄχας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἑζεκίαν, [10] Ἑζεκίας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Μανασσῆ, Μανασσῆς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἀμώς, Ἀμὼς δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰωσείαν, [11] Ἰωσείας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰεχονίαν καὶ τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος. [12] Μετὰ δὲ τὴν μετοικεσίαν Βαβυλῶνος Ἰεχονίας ἐγέννησεν τὸν Σαλαθιήλ

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