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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Another Lexical Obituary

Living in America as I do, I'm constantly struck by news reports of "migrants" wanting to come here to live. Back in my elementary days, I was taught that a migrant is one who temporarily leaves his native land for seasonal employment, like the migrant workers who lived in Mexico but traveled north with the harvest for about half the year, hand-picking vegetable crops for which meechanical harvesters hadn't yet been invented, as the cotton harvesters which replaced the slaves and sharecroppers in the cotton fields of the American South. A migrant lives part of his year as native, and part as a foreigner. He is thus distinguished from a nomad, who lives always on the move within the bounds of his own territory.

I was also taught two other words: Emigrant, one who was leaving his native land to live somewhere else, and Immigrant, one arriving in a new country to make it his home. The two words were of course used of the same people, just from opposite perspectives. Neither was ever used of a migrant. And of course both were in contrast to Native, which referred to a person living in the land of his ancestors--one who had neither emigrated nor immigrated.

There was another word I wasn't taught in school, but picked up from conversation, that was used in reference to a person whose present situation wasn't well described by any of the other five words: Expatriate. This was someone not living in his native land, but with no intentions of becoming a citizen, or of leaving descendants, in the land where he dwelt. He was there long-term enough not to qualify as a migrant, but still not permanently. He may not have owned a dwelling back in his native land, but no matter how long he was absent, his loyalties and affections remained with it, rather than with the land of his current residence, which at any rate was often likely to change every few years.

One of these six words has never been all that common--and is frequently misspelled as Ex-patriot--but two of them have gone from common to almost extinct in the course of a single generation.
Emigrant and Immigrant have now been almost totally replaced by Migrant, the original meaning of which has been sacrificed to force it to swallow the combined meanings of both other words. The word Native has also been suppressed, mostly narrowing its application--at least in the States--to those with autochthonous tribal ancestry.

Another word which has suffered greatly in connotation and change of meaning is Colonist, which originally referred to a group of expatriates who functioned as immigrants, planting a piece of their own culture on foreign soil, which they never intended to leave. Unlike true immigrants, who abandoned their former loyalties to join another culture, they brought theirs with them. Colonialism in that sense has almost gone extinct, so the word has become attached to other meanings loosely attached to the original one. Colonialsim lives on only in a cultural sense, when immigrants adapt somewhat to the local laws, but retain their original lifestyle, language, and culture. Mennonites are a good example of this, and they do in fact still refer to their settlements as Colonies.

How does this all relate to the so-called Migrant Caravan that is so much in the American news these days? Well, they certainly aren't migrants, in the classical sense of the word: they don't intend to return to live in their Central American homes on a seasonal basis. American immigration laws (ironically, the term will probably live on for centuries in statute after it is abandoned in speech) have made that process increasingly difficult to impossible. By leaving behind their homes and national loyalties, they are true emigrants; they want to come here to settle. But are their intentions in settling in America those of immigrants, expatriates, or colonists?

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

More on the Untimely Demise of the Life Sentence

Although it's not listed in the heading of this blog, one of the things I've written about is the erosion of any connection between crime and punishment: specifically, the demise of the death penalty, rapidly followed by the elimination of the life sentence. Today we shall look at one of my predictions, and see how it's played out.

In this 2012 post I wrote: "I venture to predict that no American criminal, sentenced after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on execution in 1976, will ever again serve over 30 years in prison for any heinous crime--and, for those committed to mental institutions for murder, I predict an even shorter timeframe. "

Enter the case of Patrick Lizotte, who shot his High School teacher in cold blood one March day of 1982, and was almost immediately taken into police custody for murder.
Patrick was sentenced to the incongruous "Two Consecutive Life Terms Without Possibility of Parole." I'm sorry, but such a ridiculous sentence brings to mind the medieval sentence of being hanged, drawn and quartered, and burned at the stake. What possible effect can a second consecutive life sentence have on anyone but Jesus?

Ironically, Patrick's prison term (delayed, of course, by the slow-grinding Wheels of Justice until 1986) did actually reach the 30 year mark after I wrote the above--but came to an abrupt end only months later after extensive legal proceedings that began with the Nevada Assembly Bill 267 of 2015, which “revises provisions concerning the sentencing and parole of persons convicted as an adult for a crime committed when the person was less than 18 years of age.” He is now on parole.

Thus, it was as I predicted: "The idea that a person still represents a threat to society as an eighty year old man, based on something he did as a teen, may not endure that long." Or in this case, only a fifty year old man. Had Patrick held off on committing the murder until his senior year--after he turned 18--he would probably still be in prison. But not for another thirty years.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Does χιλια ετη mean a thousand years?

As promised in my last post, here is a critique of Peter Hoover's view of the Millennium. In an email broadcast on August 12, he wrote briefly of his fling with premillenialism, and subsequent revocation:
I dropped all popular theories, all names that would identify me to this school of thought or another, and I chose to cling to Jesus' Gospel and the Scriptures themselves. Nothing more. Nothing less. With only this in mind, these became my conclusions. My passion. My goal:
 1. Building on the right foundation, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11). "No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." Whatever we build on, whatever we use, whatever we teach must come from Jesus. Everything else is unsafe and will not stand in the end. If Jesus and his apostles did not teach it, if Jesus' example does not match with what we are promoting, we are in the wrong. Plain and simple.
 2. Choosing the Narrow Way (Matthew 7:13-14). The broad way, the way of the crowd, the popular way is dangerous. The narrow way, the way of Jesus, is the only right and safe one. How shall we find it? From Jesus and his apostles alone. Not from any modern organisation or religious group. Not, particularly, from any church. The real Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that truly follows him on the narrow way, is the fellowship of all who listen carefully, who follow, and obey. Why is it narrow? Because few choose it. It is the Way of the Cross.
 3. Following the Context and Flow of Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15). Using the Scriptures responsibly includes its context and how they were presented to us, one after the next. That is how we need to use all information anywhere. To use the Scriptures in a game of "fast and loose," pulling out bits and pieces here and there, while cobbling them together again through all kinds of ingenious ways, is not only dangerous. It is dishonest. It takes serious study (like they did in Beraoea) and the help of the Holy Spirit. It is not safe for us to use the Scriptures unless the Lord Jesus has already freed us from human prejudice and a pre-established agenda.
 4. Not Adding, not subtracting from prophetic Scriptures (Revelation 22:18-19). "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll."
How seriously have we taken these sobering words at the end of John's Revelation? I am amazed. Of all Scriptures used by Christians, anywhere, none of them have been tampered, twisted and added onto more than this one itself. An absolutely massive world-wide movement, involving millions upon millions of people, entire political parties and shocking wars have revolved around what is read "between the lines" of Revelation 20:1-10.
 But, seriously, have you ever carefully read this chapter yourself? Stunning in its simplicity!
 There is not one word, not even the minutest suggestion of any "restoration of Israel," or of any flesh and blood Jews, or of any earthly nation governed by Christ, in this passage.
Neither is there any suggestion in the entire Scriptures of any "pre-tribulation rapture," or of any restoration of animal sacrifices that glorify God, or of a return to the laws of Moses.
 In fact, the "thousand years" is one of the most poorly translated pieces of the entire New Testament in our North European languages. The Greek word (check it out in Strongs, or wherever you wish) is the word "chilioi," not singular, but plural. In other words, it already includes "thousands of years," instead of just one clearly defined millennium. But even the word "thousands" is not totally accurate.
 "Chilioi" is not the word that Greek speakers would use to describe "thousands." Instead they use the word, "chiliades." Chilioi, as used by the Apostle John is a vague term, used basically for a "long long time." An age.
And this brings us right back into the rest of all the teachings of Christ, the simple Gospel that tells us nothing more than to be ready at all times for the day of judgement. Not adding. Not subtracting, is a key to understanding Bible prophecy. If the Lord wanted us to know more, he would have told us more. And in the meantime, while we are still waiting, I rest every night in total peace. The Lord is in control. Not me. And this is why I refuse to latch onto any "ism" or humanly constructed line of thought: premillennialism, amillennialism, postmillennialism, etc. Who needs it if we have the Gospel of Jesus in our hearts and hands? 
 I wanted to give the full context of his claim regarding the meaning of  χιλια ετη, the term Revelation 20:2 uses, because he is so totally wrong about this that I can't address it without making him look really stupid. And he's not stupid, he's just way out of his league here, casting judgment on basically every Bible ever translated in English. Yes, Strongs uses the transliteration 'chilioi' for G-5507, which is its nominative singular lemma form. But not even Strong translates it as 'thousands', but 'a thousand'. This shows how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; being able to look up a word in Strongs does not qualify one to evaluate Bible translations.

It gets worse, when he assays to read the mind of the modern Greek. I actually don't know modern Greek, but I do know that when Google or Bing attempt to translate Biblical Greek as if it were Modern Greek, the result in English is usually hilarious, but never accurate. Google, however, perfectly rendered either χίλια χρόνια (its Modern Greek translation of 'thousand years') or χίλια ἔτη (the Koine equivalent). So all the talk about how a Greek speaker would say it is nothing but ignorance strutting as erudition; at least at first blush, it's 'chilia' either way.

If Peter Hoover wants to accuse a Bible translator of mistranslating 'thousand', he need look no further than Acts 21:20, where many Bibles have the elders telling Paul that "thousands" of Jews had come to faith, when even Strongs could tell him that the number is actually that of the next order of magnitude, 'myriads'.

And how is χίλια ἔτη used elsewhere in the Bible? Well, it is only used twice elsewhere, and both times it is used proverbially to refer to a long time, like me saying in English, "Never in a thousand years would I expect such a scholar and historian as Peter Hoover to make such a blunder." But this is not proverbial language here--it's narrative, with terms like, "And when the thousand years are ended," which is pretty specific.

It's not as if John didn't know how to express large numbers: in the majority text of Revelation 9:6 he speaks of a number of horseman so large as to be inconceivable in his day, a thousand myriads (the two largest Greek numbers put together). Then in 5:11, he gives up counting the heavenly host after running clean out of big numbers: myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands. But he is able to divide 144,000 by twelve and come up with the right number; and when it comes to telling time, he is twice able to count up to one thousand, two hundred, and sixty days. It sure seems to me like John considers χίλιοι to mean 'a thousand'.

Could χιλια ετη refer to a long time, rather than exactly 12,000 months? Well, it does every other time it's used in the Bible, so I would have to answer "possibly," given that Revelation is a highly symbolic book anyway. But let's at least be honest about the evidence, and stick with what we have rather than making it up. And we are certainly not on firm ground to assume that it does, and build our theory on that.

P.S. In the interests of fair use, I should note that you can receive your own free subscription to Peter Hoover's emails by so requesting in an email to detention.river@gmail.com.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

A Nigger in which woodpile?

"There's a Nigger in the Woodpile"--a phrase the White Man has only just become aware of, ironically, from reading an article recommended by the venerable Mennonite historian Peter Hoover, whose Pennsylvania Dutch idiom has taken in the expression as a calque, "Do steckt eiats en Neger im Holzhauffe."

Now, it is very much to Peter's discredit that he used this phrase so cavalierly without translating it literally. Interestingly, I had heard the expression "skunk in the woodpile" which, having lived around both skunks and woodpiles, I took to be a literal-based metaphor, but scholars are agreed that it is actually a northern euphemism for the Southern original. The Pennsylvania Dutch, however, kept the original expression when taking it into their language, using it idiomatically for "There's something suspicious here behind the scenes." I won't go into the full usage of the phrase, as it can be looked up online (although some internet filters will restrict such research as regarding a "mature topic.")
I'll have a further critique of Peter Hoover in my next post, regarding his rejection of Premillennialism; this post will focus on the Holocaust denial in the linked article, which Peter introduced in a recent mass email as follows:

Probably about the strangest thing that has ever happened between my Jewish friends and me, is what appears at an Orthodox Jewish website on-line: 
Do you see who wrote the article?  [he did]
I wrote it years ago after I visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington D. C. At first when I discovered it on-line (without my permission, but that is just fine) I was a bit alarmed. But then, the more I learned about it, the more surprising it became. This Orthodox Jewish group that published it, and that has kept it on-line for years, agreed with my conclusions, and shared all the same questions. 

When I got my first Kindle, I decided to make it a habit to download and read all the memoirs of Holocaust survivors that came available for $1.99 or less, but I soon had to give up the hobby as it became too overwhelming; there was literally about one every week. It is incredible that someone as deeply learned and widely traveled as Peter Hoover could even consider that the Holocaust Story is a Jewish fabrication, in the face of the thousands upon thousands of eyewitness testimonies to it. To me, that's the skunk in the woodpile! This willing suspension of belief is all the more incredible, with Peter being a respected historian not only of his Mennonite forefathers but also of the Russian Old Believers, concerning whom he wrote the book "The Russians' Secret."

While I continue to puzzle this out, the only theory that makes any sense is one that actually explains the situation perfectly. Peter Hoover has rejected God's chosen people, considering himself and his ilk to have fully replaced them as the apple of God's eye. Thus he not only turns away from the implication of the Scriptures that say otherwise, but even turns a blind eye to the historical fact that the Jews remain a special people--the only people, in fact, to survive intact from antiquity (although he also--no surprise--buys into the Khazar Hypothesis).

This all serves to remind us that every historian is biased, and no work of history can be taken as gospel--except the incredibly accurate Gospel Story itself.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

How many metres in a cubit? The answer may astound you.

Dear Readers,
I know it's only been a day since I edited my last post (if you haven't read it yet, I highly advise it), but I just have to share what I learned today about the Egyptian cubit. If you watch the relevant minute of the referenced video, you will see that the most ancient Egyptian cubit is a function of the ratio of pi and phi in metres, out to four or five digits (.52356) over the precise 230,366½-millimetre width of each of the Great Pyramid's four sides.
This would indicate that the most ancient Egyptians were aware of the relationship of geometry to base ten out to five digits--a metre is the distance from the equator to the pole, divided by ten thousand--as well as the irrational numbers of higher mathematics. As later generations of Egyptians lost this knowledge, it stands to reason that their cubits became less and less precise--ranging as much as a centimetre off the ancient standard (and even more so by the time we get to the TNIV).
If the Egyptians at the dawn of history were capable of manipulating such abstract numbers to such precision, it lends credence to the idea that the numbers in Genesis chapter five--even more ancient--are the result of equally complex calculations. Note that in each of the nine generations enumerated, the age at which the son was begotten always ends in zero, two, five, or seven--as do the lifespans of the first seven generations. This is regardless of whether one follows the Hebrew, Greek, or Samaritan numbers. And as it turns out, two and five are among the factors of phi squared; it appears that some complicated mathematical formula was at work in producing ages that always ended in one of these two factors of phi squared, or the sum of them. And it appears that we are only now finally coming to the point in our understanding of ancient mathematics to be able to transcribe these numbers into something more useful to our purposes, which is establishing the time span between Creation and the Flood.

Added on August 19:
This video shows a tablet from ancient Babylon now understood to contain formulas of higher mathematics used to construct triangles from an entirely different perspective than has been used for the past 2500 years. Clearly Ancient Man was much more intelligent than materialist paradigm has been willing to accept. Perhaps more on that, in a later post.