Tag Archives: Language

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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Filed under Bible, Classics, New Testament, Roman law

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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Filed under Ancient Egyptian, Biblical Archaeology, Classics, Hebrew Bible, Linguistics

Prometheus

By Joseph Manning

I saw the new Ridley Scott movie, Prometheus, this weekend. Over at Language Log there is an ongoing discussion in an attempt to translate a sentence spoken in the movie, which is thought to be proto-Indo-European.

The movie’s connection to proto-Indo-European language and mythology doesn’t end there, however.

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Luvian Linguistic Puzzle

By Joseph Manning

I found a set of linguistics puzzles on the web, which I’ve had a good time working my way through. Some of the later puzzles don’t have any available solutions, so I’m going to reduplicate one puzzle with its solution as well as the way I worked out the solution.

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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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Plastered Skulls and Teraphim

By Joseph Manning

In the early 1950s archaeologists were digging up ancient Jericho. This is one of the oldest cities on earth dating straight back to the prehistoric Neolithic era. In strata dating to about 7,000 BCE, the archaeologists found human skulls. But these weren’t just any skulls:

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Louisiana Law of Property and Proto-Indo-European Culture

By Joseph Manning

“[The Proto-Indo-Europeans] occupied a part of the world — the steppes — where the sky is by far the most striking and magnificent part of the landscape, a fitting environment for people who believed that all their most important deities lived in the sky.” (Anthony 99)

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Paul’s Jurisdiction

By Joseph Manning

Saul, the church persecutor, and his conversion on the Damascus road is a memorable New Testament story.

He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

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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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Roman Citizenship and the Edict of Caracalla

By Joseph Manning

Throughout the history of Rome, citizenship was a desirable status to have.  Wars were fought over this issue.  Even as late as the early part of the first century it seems like it was an uncommon and privileged status in the provinces.

In 212 C.E. citizenship was extended to every free person in the entire empire.

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