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Saturday, 6 January 2018

More Problems with the "Oldest and Best" Cyberscripts

I ran across this riddle years ago in hard copy, and recently decided to go online and try a little more cybertextual criticism (earlier attempts can be found under this post). Here is a random webex that, on the basis of its several scansion problems, appears to have suffered corruption (by the way, if you can't solve the riddle, hold on--the answer will be provided in due course, after a series of clews).
I doubled all the lines to save space, and added line numbers:

1 Adam, God made out of dust But thought it best to make me first,
So I was made before man To answer God's most Holy plan.
A living being I became And Adam gave to me my name.
I from his presence then withdrew And more of Adam never knew.
5 I did my Maker's law obey Nor ever went from it astray.
Thousands of miles I go in fear But seldom on earth appear.
For purpose wise God did see, He put a living soul in me.
A soul from me God did claim And took from me the soul again.
So when from me the soul had fled I was the same as when first made.
10 And without hands, or feet, or soul, I travel on from pole to pole.
I labor hard by day, by night To fallen man I give great light.
Thousands of people, young and old Will by my death great light behold.
No right or wrong can I conceive The scripture I cannot believe.
Although my name therein is found They are to me an empty sound.
15 No feat of death doth trouble me Real happiness I'll never see.
To Heaven I shall never go Or to Hell below.
Now when these lines you slowly read, Go search your Bible with all speed
For that my name is written there I do honestly to you declare.

So, what have we here? Let's see if we can identify corruptions just from a single copy, conjecturing emendations as suggested by internal evidence:

1. In line 2, a syllable is missing: perhaps an article before 'man'.
2. Line 6 is also missing something: perhaps 'Ten thousand' for 'thousands of' and 'do' before 'on'.
3. Line 7 should perhaps read 'For purpose only God did see'.
4. Line 8 is missing something, perhaps 'then' after 'God'.
5. In line 15, 'feat' is obviously a scribal error for 'fear'.
6. Line 16 is missing quite a bit, probably by parablepsis.
7. Line 18 is the last line; further research will probably show that some scribes didn't like the Abrupt Ending and added one or another alternative endings.

So here are some alternate readings to the above variant units, found in the next webex on the search page (Webex a):

1. a So I was made sometime before man
2. a But seldom on earth do I appear
3. For purpose only God did see
4. The soul in me, God had fed, Until, finally, the soul had fled. I am the same As when first made.
5. fear
6. nor to hell far below.
7. a Short ending: The answer is one word.

Note that I made all the above conjectures BEFORE looking for variant webices. And that not all of them were resolved on the first go.  So we'll keep going.

Another webex, next one down on the list (Webex b):
1. So I was made before man,
2. b but seldom on earth appear.
3. For purpose wise which God did see
4.  And when from me the soul had fled, I was the same as when first made.
5. fear (same as a and the conjectured reading)
6. or to hell below (the text reading)
7. b Prologue: "This riddle was written by a lady in California in 1890 in response to a gentleman in Pennsylvania who said he would pay $1,000.00 to anyone who could write a puzzle he could not solve. He failed to solve this puzzle and paid the lady the $1,000.00, a great sum at that time. An 8 year old boy figured it out." Here is the entire, cleverly worded, puzzle: What is one word and five letters that only appeared in the King James Version four times.
b Colophon: [solution redacted] mentioned 6 times.

Webex b then goes on to add a Longer Ending, appending the full references of all six times the word is mentioned in the 1611 KJV.

I found a few other textually independent webices that seem to have all derived immediately from one or the other of the above, with minor scribal errors. Due to the algorithms of the search engine, only the first couple of hits are likely to ever be electronically copied--a form of valuing number, rather than weight. But it really is incredible that even in this cut-and-paste electronic age, the same kind of errors that we see in ancient manuscripts continue to to be made: just in the above three samples we see omission, substitution, addition, transposition, and interpolation. Multiple dislocation also occurred, as we shall see shortly.  Itacism seems to be the only scribal variant to have been eliminated by the electronic revolution (thanks to Spellcheck--which, ironically, is a conserving influence on the letter level, but an innovating influence on the word level), although capitalization and punctuation still vary widely.

Ah, yes, the clews (you may have noticed that I used the archaic spelling, however current within the present lifetime). The first is that the answer can only be found in the King James Version--which, ironically, only has it two times, none in a passage rather crucial to solving it, but incorporated therein by reference; and--likewise crucial to solving the riddle--with a different form of the word two more times.

The answer will be added as an edit, before my next post. But feel free to comment until then; just be prepared to explain your answer.

And finally, dear reader, here is your author's own recension of the riddle--all 20 well-scanned lines of it--online here for the first time. The considerable textual differences from ALL the webices are largely due to it being based on a pre-internet archetype that underwent major dumbing down at the hands of less literate scribes over the decades it was transmitted in hard copy. I trust you'll see that this eliminates the need to conjecture emendations to solve the problems noted above. And that the oldest webices are far from the best, the most major rescension having occurred in their electronically inextant ancestors.

God made Adam out of dust, but thought it best to make me first.
So I was made before the man, according to God's holy plan.
My body he did make complete--but without arms, or legs, or feet--
My ways and actions did control, as I was made without a soul.

A living creature I became; 'twas Adam gave to me my name.
Then from his presence I withdrew--no more of Adam ever knew.
Ten thousand miles before me reared; I seldom from the land appeared.
I did my Maker's laws obey; from them I never went astray.

Then God some pow'r in me did see, and put a living soul in me.
The soul in me the Lord did claim, and took from me that soul again.
And when from me the soul was fled, I was the same as when first made.

So without hands, or feet, or soul, I travel on from pole to pole;
My work the same by day or night--to fallen man I give great light.
Great hordes of people, young and old, do by my death great light behold.

No fear of death doth trouble me, and happiness I cannot see.
To heav'n above I ne'er shall go; nor to the grave, nor hell below.
No right or wrong can I conceive; the Scripture I cannot believe.
Although my name therein is found, they are to me an empty sound.

And when, my friends, these lines you read, go search the Scriptures with all speed;
And if my name you can't find there, it will be strange, as I declare.

ETA: Congratulations to Lydia for identifying and explaining the correct solution: whale.
The clues are right in the riddle: What other footless creature travels ten thousand miles from the North to the South Pole, seldom appearing from land? Also, whales were famous back then for not having a grave--no whale carcasses were being found buried on land.
Now, the reason this only works in the King James is that "whale" and "whales" translates two completely different words in the KJV: tannin in the OT, and keta in the NT. The former word actually refers to a reptilian monster, and the latter simply to a large sea creature. "Whale" as a modern English word can only be a subset of the latter definition, and in fact there is nothing in Scripture to specify that the creature in whose belly Jonah spent 3 days and 3 nights was a cetacean. It could have been a shark or other giant fish. So to recap, Jonah could have been swallowed by a whale, and God did make whales the day before Adam, but the Bible doesn't mention what we now know as whales specifically anywhere. Thus the riddle only works for someone wearing blinders imposed by the translation choices of the KJV editors.

So how many times ARE whales mentioned in the Bible--two, four, or six? Actually, as the Bible has been translated into pre-modern English, there are TWELVE different verses that mention 'whale' or 'whales' (including, as did the 1611 KJV, the Apocrypha), but none of them specifically referring to a cetacean:

 Genesis 1:21 And God made great whales, and every living reptile, which the waters brought forth according to their kinds, and every creature that flies with wings according to its kind, and God saw that they were good.
 Job 3:8 But let him that curses that day curse it, even he that is ready to attack the great whale.
 Job 7:12 Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me?
 Job 9:13 For if he has turned away his anger, the whales under heaven have stooped under him.
 Job 26:12 He has calmed the sea with his might, and by his wisdom the whale has been overthrown.
 Ezekiel 32:2 Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.
 Daniel 3:23.5 (LXX)  Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed, God in the furnace, saying, Blessed art thou, O Lord God of our fathers: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever.  . . . O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
 Jonah 2:1 Now the Lord had commanded a great whale to swallow up Jonas: and Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights.
 Jonah 2:2 And Jonas prayed to the Lord his God out of the belly of the whale,
 Jonah 2:11 And the whale was commanded by the Lord, and it cast up Jonas on the dry land.
 Sirach 43:25 For therein be strange and wondrous works, variety of all kinds of beasts and whales created.
 Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

The one man behind Israel's triumph over a nuclear Iran

If you browse through my Iran posts, which run a span of 36 months from 2012-2015, you will see repeated mention of Israel, "the Little Satan" which the Islamist regime in Iran is determined to destroy as a Zionist Entity. In a sense these posts were anticlimactic, as almost all the work done behind the scenes to destroy Iran's nuclear capability had already been completed under Mossad director Meir Dagan--and at the same time, the work done by American President Obama to allow Iran to re-arm had not yet come to fruition.  This book gives all sorts of details regarding what are widely recognized as Israeli victories in their undeclared covert war against Iran's nuclear program. If they are even close to being true, it demonstrates that covert warfare can accomplish the same goals as conventional warfare, with far fewer casualties and considerably less collateral damage.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Revive Indiana Really Does Jump the Shark. But That is not All. There's More, So Much More.

A thousand days after launching what was originally to be a one-week revival, Kyle Lance Martin returned to his homeland of Elkhart County, Indiana to "Fan the Flame" with another week of meetings at Maple City Chapel and Clinton Frame Mennonite Church. In this video you can watch what happened at the tail end of "Day 1005." After Kyle had spent the previous hour laying out his vision for what "more" might look like, and the closing song had been sung, Kyle came back up and announced that a "sister" named April felt led to "release tongues" over the audience, and he asked a man named Adam to "interpret" so that all would be "in biblical order," using "a safe, biblical model." You can see Kyle tell the backstory here.

So, a woman comes forward, stands silently for a minute, and then begins babbling through her sobs the same staccato syllables, over and over. More silence. Then she ends by saying in English, "We just want more of You God." After another interlude, Adam takes over. "Oh my children (2x) How much I love you (2x) Oh, children, I paint the day every morning for you, and every evening I paint the sky for you. I love you so. I have things for you each new day--new things. Oh my children, what I have in store for you. Oh, how much I love you my children."

Kyle then came back up and encouraged the audience to "ask the Lord for the interpretation of what you just heard . . . Everything you heard pointed to the Lord. Nothing you heard contradicted Scripture."

But it just ain't so, bro. Scripture says, "women are to be silent in the assemblies." In fact, it's right there in the very same passage that encourages members of the assembly to speak orderly in tongues. I think it's highly significant that it was a woman who felt "led by the Spirit" to "release tongues" on the assembly.  And that it was a woman who told Kyle, "Let's do it." And I would almost be willing to bet that just about every interpretation Adam ever comes up with has "My children" in it several times.

Now, the reader may recall that I devoted several weeks, nine years ago, to examining this passage right here on the pages of this blog, and I'm not advocating the muzzling of women in the assembly. But to say that something doesn't contradict Scripture, when it in fact does so to its face, raises red flags. To say that justification is by faith alone, without works, contradicts Scripture to its face. To claim the blessing of heaven on that which contradicts Scripture isn't going to work for eternity.

I have to say one thing for Adam, he did a good job of attempting to match his interpretation to the message: lots of repetition. But linguistically speaking, there simply wasn't any correlation between "the tongue" and "the interpretation." Yes, they represented different "gifts:" the tongue, a gift for producing a meaningless message; the interpretation, a gift for producing a meaningful platitude. But what's the point? We could have completely skipped April's contribution and gone directly to Adam's. The church was no more edified with the tongue than it had been without it.

Here's a test. Have three people watch the video of April's "tongue" and give their inspired "interpretation" of it. What do you think are the odds that all three will be identical?  To the thinking person, this is all a lot of nonsense. Sure, Paul encouraged tongues; but at the end of the very same chapter, he banned women from speaking in church. If the one still applies today, why not the other? Kyle had no answer to that question; he didn't even bother raising it.

Now shift the scene. It's three weeks later, and just across the state line into Michigan. Riverside Christian Fellowship is a church that, like Maple City Chapel, was founded by conservative Mennonites, but doesn't carry on their name. A church that tries to hold on to what was important of that which has been passed down to them, and let go of what wasn't. It's a half-week of revival meetings, and the pews are packed. Even Amish have come in from the surrounding area. But it's not Kyle Lance Martin from Time to Revive speaking--it's Israel Wayne from Family Renewal, preaching sermons based on his books Questions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks. And his message strikes a decided contrast to that of Kyle Martin. When Israel talks about salvation and works, he doesn't see any need to warn against mixing the latter in with the former. In fact, he speaks of salvation as a coin with two sides: on one, faith, and on the other, works. To claim one to the exclusion of the other is like a quarter with two heads or two tails: it's fake. A faith that does not produce works is of no saving value; Works that spring not from faith are no redeeming worth. Israel says, "Jesus didn't have a problem with his disciples obeying him too much; he had a problem with them obeying him too little."

After four days, Israel packed up and headed home with his family of twelve. There was no extending the revival, no taking the church out into the streets. No meetings in businesses and at Amish league football games. No baptism truck. But neither was there rushing people through a marked Bible, reading Ephesians 2:8-9 but skipping over verse 10 (which says we were created to do good works). No printing off an instant Birth Certificate and assuring people that because they had prayed a prayer, they were now in the kingdom of God.

Interestingly enough, both Kyle and Israel talked a lot about the way they were raised in the churches they went to, and how there seemed to be something lacking, something not right about it. Bear with me here, I'm going to try not to be too simplistic. But for Kyle, the solution was basically to get a woman to teach him how to babble, and a man to transpose that babble into English. For Israel, it was getting Dietrich Bonhoeffer to teach him the cost of discipleship. Both preached "more;" but only one submitted his preaching to the what the Word actually says. And there is certainly nothing of the cost of discipleship in "I make the sun to rise and set for you, and I have more in store--oh, so much more."

Preaching about the costs of discipleship probably won't get kids to leave their schools to hear you. It won't bring thousands of people out to march around downtown Goshen behind you. It won't get you wall-to-wall coverage on a local Christian rock station. But it may just result in actual disciples.

Israel had a message for the Riverside Church. It combined two letters to the leadership of the church in Ephesus: Paul's, and that of the risen Christ. Paul told the Ephesian pastor to "Remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." --ESV

Jesus told the Ephesian pastor, "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent."  --ESV

The Ephesians passed down the right doctrine, and proved those who taught it. But in the process they missed the whole point, which was love. Yes, it's important not to mishandle Scripture. Yes, it's important to teach the whole counsel of God, not just the parts that make us feel good. It's important to stand for the truth, and not compromise. But the whole point is love that issues from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Lose that, and you've lost it all.



Saturday, 2 September 2017

Persecution Update: of Produce and Pronouns

It's been two and a half years since the bulk of my Indiana Revival Reports, but I've continued to follow Kyle Lance Martin and Time to Revive, as they held extended meetings in Florida, Ohio, Dallas, and now Wisconsin. An interesting update came out in a recent sermon in Wausau: at about 1:40:40 in this video, Kyle Martin tells about the Michiana farmer who lost a majority of his wholesale business after putting peel-away gospel stickers on 600,000 of his watermelons. I saw some of those rejected watermelons, donated by the crate to a local food pantry, the sticker still on them. They tasted just fine.
Like a frog in a teakettle, American Christians are experiencing such a gradual loss of their liberty that most young adults have no idea how much their country has changed just in their lifetimes. Thirty years ago, for example, women were typically addressed as either Mrs. or Miss; those titles have almost universally been replaced by Ms.--not, as far as I know, due to a single court decision--definitely not to an act of Congress--but the social pressure to conform to the new normal has sufficed to snuff out two words that were, not all that long ago, among the most commonly spoken ones in our vocabulary. And now, a six-year-old is investigated for calling a friend 'he' when he now prefers 'she'. Two even more common words are in immanent danger of disappearing themselves.

Elizabeth Elliot lived among naked savages in Ecuador--well, they were still naked savages when she met them, but contact with incarnated Christianity was rapidly changing that. She ate what they ate, lived where they lived, spake as they spake, and even let her daughter run wild with their children--but she drew the line at dressing as they dressed: a single cotton string around the waist, or--if they really wanted to dress up--one around the upper arm as well. She didn't want to just identify with their culture--she wanted to uplift it. And as they saw the three incarnate Christians wearing clothes, they all started wearing them too--and have ever since.

Christians just aren't going to be socially acceptable to a depraved and fallen culture. They needn't bother to even try to keep up with the decline. Any who continue trying to comply with the culture's escalating demands are just hoping that the crocodile they feed will eat them last.

Monday, 5 June 2017

The most embarrassing article in National Geographic--and a nice poem

In a past post, I mentioned that the National Geographic Magazine had become a propaganda arm of the US Military by 1943. Today I discovered that only about five years earlier, in what National Geographic is now calling "among the most embarrassing [article] in National Geographic’s history," NGM had served as a mouthpiece for Hitler. Free-lance American correspondent and photographer Douglas Chandler provided for the February 1937 issue a 9000-word article entitled "Changing Berlin," with "47 pages of dramatic images showing swastika-draped buildings and reverential descriptions of a city under Nazi rule."

But note, his submission was fully in conformance to NGM editorial standards: to include only stories “of a kindly nature” and strictly apolitical. One wonders where those standards had gone only five years later, and if perhaps a misplaced sense of guilt was behind the change.

During the War in Europe, Chandler became a literal mouthpiece for Hitler, railing against Jews and Bolsheviks on short-wave broadcasts aimed at America. After the war ended, he was hunted down and brought back to the US to stand trial for treason. Convicted, he served a fifteen-year "life sentence" before being released to return to Europe.

The editors at the National Geographic Society had a lot of explaining to do when irate letters began to pour in from listeners who had heard Mr. Chandler repeatedly mention his connection to the National Geographic Society during his propaganda broadcasts. Apparently no such apologies were ever made in defense of their pro-USA propaganda articles.

Now, while I am at making this month's post, I want to share with my readers a poem published over half a century ago (perhaps written a quarter-century before that), and apparently never yet posted to the Internet. I say apparently, because in recent years search engines have become so sure of what their customers are looking for that simply entering in a character string no longer ensures that any or all online sources containing that string will come up in the results. But here it is:

In the solemn stillness of an early dawn is heard
The crystal-throated reveille of a waking bird.
Donning golden slippers arises then the Day
And flings across the morning sky her crimson negligee.

Enchanting now, she saunters forth to spread abroad her charm
And shakes perfume from every flower to smooth upon her arm.
She paints the children's bodies brown, their faces rosy fair,
And with soft fluting of the wind breathes kisses through their hair.

Shrill piccolo of the cricket warns that night at last has come!
She gathers up her flowing skirts and hastens quickly home.
But looking up into the sky, a wary child might find--
She left her veil of mauve chiffon trailing far behind.

--Helen Wessel, Natural Childbirth and the Christian Family. pp. 3-4. Fourth Revised Edition, (c) 1983, Harper & Row Publishers

P.S. Sure enough, this poem in the same form can be found online in the original 1963 edition--IF one knows where, and how, to look. The book was contemporaneously published under a similar title, Natural Childbirth and the Family, as well as under the later and even more innocuous title The Joy of Childbirth. All likewise online, but apparently now out of print.

P.P.S. I just noticed, in proofreading this prior to publication, that, in addition to omitting the final letter of 'early', resulting in the nonsense reading of "earl dawn," I had committed the scribal error of homeoteleuton, skipping from 'up' in the antepenultimate line, to 'into' in the penultimate, with the resultant loss of the end of one line and the beginning of the next. Note that this was probably influenced by the plausibility of the new reading, "gathers up into the sky."