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  • Re Through the Glass Darkly and 1 Corinthians 13:12

    I normally don't discuss religious topics online, and would consider it quite OT on Use.Perl. But I'm discussing literature and on-line tools and my experiences with same in a religious context, not Religion per se, so I'll bend my rule.

    Shakespear has been accused of composing his plays solely by pasting together a bunch of book titles and lines from novels. This is delightfully ironic, as by this theory, his genius was that all the book titles and most of the quotes his plays are composed of weren't written for 100-400 years. But of what remains of Western Lit that isn't allusive to Shakespear is allusive to the Hebrew and Christian Testaments -- Shaksepeare referred to the then quite new and still politically correct King James translation regularly, as have all literate authors since. (Yes I spelt his name inconsistently; so did Wil[l]?.) In our political correctness, we may lose our cultural inheritance.

    I read 1Cor13 at the lectern for my Great Aunt's funeral a couple of months ago. This was strange, since I'm not very Xian, never was very, and usually have a specific aversion to St.Paul and his Epistles encourging adaptive adoptive gentile christianity among the nations of the Empire. I tend to prefer the Gospels or coptic & deadsea apocropha or later saintly spiritual writings (eg, Julian of Norwich []), when I'm rarely feeling vaguely xian.

    But the whole of 1st Corintians chapter 13 (1 COR 13) is a beautiful (and short) evocation of brotherly love, so much so that it is sometimes subtitled "The Greatest Gift" or "Paul's Ode to Love". This seemed quite appropriate for Auntie, and one of her favorits, I gather. I enjoyed reading it in the service. Some other verses in 1Cor13 that pop up in Western Lit repeatedly are

    • 13:3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed `the poor', and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing. (ASV) [This was alluded to in the Continental Congress in the debate over inclusion of slavery in the Declaration of Independence: "What profiteth a man if he gains Maryland and loses the whole South?]
    • 13:4 Love is always patient, Love is always kind, Love is never envious Or vaunted up with pride. Nor is she conceited,
    • 13:8 Love never fails. (NKJV)
    • 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (KJV)
    • 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (KJV)
      Now we see only a blurred reflection in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.(ISV)
    • 13:13 Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    13:12 "Through a glass darkly"'s promise of only later fully knowing and being fully known reminds me of both the epitaph of Benjamin Franklin

                        B. Franklin, Printer
                   (Like the Cover of an Old Book
                        Its Contents torn Out
              And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)
                     Lies Here, Food for Worms.
                   But the Work shall not be Lost;
            For it will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More
                  In a New and More Elegant Edition
                        Revised and Corrected
                           By the Author.
    and, via the glass metaphors, Beatrice Ward's injunction [] that good typography should be the invisible bearer of the words, as a crystal goblet bears the wine.

    Preparing 1COR13 for public reading was a challenge. The "Greatest Gift / Ode to Love" aspect was important in the context of the service -- my Great Aunt was a maiden aunt centarian brimming with brotherly-love. The cultural references and poetry were important, if only to my father the retired English Lit, but we hoped also to the Bible-fearing congregation hosting the service. But the beautiful poetry (and manifold cultural references) of the King James language lacks the key word "love", having an older (mis)translation "charity" throughout. The modern translations lose many or all of the connections / allusions that KJV has built up, by casting in straight language. Many also lose some or all of the poetry. I struggled to find one modern translation that had the best of both, resonance and relevance. In days gone by, this would have involved surrounding myself with multiple Bibles lushly printed and bound, and have been very time-consuming. Today, the internet has several Parallel Translations on-line ; e.g., compare your 1COR13:12 here [], or another [], and another [] linked from WWSB []. In the end, I had to take the TIMTOWTDI approach and pick-and-choose verse-by-verse and phrase-by-phrase to suit my purpose. The internet -- and the word-processor with two-column format -- and a mechanical pencil for final edits on the trunk of a car -- saved the day.

    # I had a sig when sigs were cool
    use Sig;
    • Very interesting, thanks. Interesting that you reference the Founding Fathers a few times ... the Deists among them would have approved of your TMTOWTDI approach to the Bible. :-)
      • Interesting that you reference the Founding Fathers a few times

        Once upon a time, Shakspeare and The Bible were nearly the only literature needed for a learned man. The Founding Fathers were almost entirely composed of learned men, and so they quoted and allueded to the great works. Expanding the list is indeed progress, but striking off the items upon which the later items were built loses something. I may begrudge the hours spent reading Milton and Spencer, but at least I get some of the allusions in

        # I had a sig when sigs were cool
        use Sig;