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  • Use the Greek! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chromatic (983) on 2003.08.16 23:37 (#23237) Homepage Journal

    Ahh, ancient languages and exegeses. You make me reminisce my undergraduate days, Uncy John!

    The Greek phrase is transliterated, more or less, dia esoptrou en ainigmati, roughly, "through a mirror in riddles". You'll do well to look in a good lexicon for deeper word meanings. (I'm not sure why the KJV would use the word "glass".)

    One interesting tidbit is that "mirrors", in the first century, weren't silver-backed glass. They were polished metal, often steel or bronze, which distorted the reflections somewhat.

    • You'll do well to look in a good lexicon for deeper word meanings. (I'm not sure why the KJV would use the word "glass".)

      Whoa there, Camper! I'm barely monolingual! I leave the classical languages to, well, classists []. I did find some essays that point out the mirror/glass confusion, though.

      However, your point about getting as close to the original source is cogent. That isn't always possible for me. For instance, I'm happy to run Perl code through the debugger and dive through as many modules as ne

      • However, your point about getting as close to the original source is cogent.

        Any serious historian or academic will do his own translation. You can immediately discount anyone who lacks a passing familiarity with the source language as a crackpot. At the risk of getting on a soapbox, I'll repeat the words of one of my professors. "The primary meaning of a text was directed at its primary audience. Understand that audience."

        • You presume the author had an audience :) Much like art, words can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people even those whom are supposed to be the 'target'. Satire is a good example of this. :)

          You might find Eco's, Experiences in Translation [] interesting if you haven't read it already.

          • I'm pretty confident making that presumption.

            You can't go very far in historical research if you throw out the primary audience. (Of course, you'll have a tough time making sense of Machiavelli if you don't allow for artistry, poetry, and, possibly, satire when identifying that audience.)

            • Making assumptions about a text that was written hundreds years after the fact by a number of different people...well, that's got to be some confidence you got there. :) William Friedman was confident that Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare and had encoded something into the text and he a reasonable amount of data to support this. Who do you think the Voynich was written for? :) Truth in a historical context is a malleable thing...just like people.

              I'm more of a Mark Twain and Mencken kind of person

              • Who do you think the Voynich was written for?

                ME! ME! ME!

                The Voynich manuscript is a wonderful cypher/dadaist object. No matter how long one stares it, the only meaning it has is what the reader imbues into it.

                And I like the pictures.

                • Me, too. Although someday I do hope someone deciphers it and finds out it's an elaborate personal journal some woman wrote down in cipher to keep it from her husband. :)

              • that's got to be some confidence you got there

                It's the kind of confidence that comes from reading primary sources. One of those primary sources includes Clement of Rome, who cites the letter to the Corinthians. The funny thing is that Clement also lived in the first century. (See Eusebius and Origen for more information on Clement.)

                Maybe I'm just not postmodernist enough.

                • I spent enough time among the Shakespeareans who pore over imagery in every line who likely see a lot more in the text than Shakespeare ever meant and among the Baconists who think Shakespeare was not the author of the plays. Others think he was even a plagarist. Shakespeare has only been dead a few hundred years, too. There are a lot of different camps around poor old Bill. It's the same thing with the bible and it has had about 1,000 more years to accrete such disparate scholarship and verity even with th

    • I don't see the problem ... "glass" has commonly been used for "mirror" (remember Alice?). The KJV was trying to use a certain type of language, not trying to be accurate. And while ainigmati literally means riddle, it was used to mean "indistinct" by Plutarch, and, apparently, by Paul here.

      Anyway, I've always understood it as jjohn does. We don't and can't know everything. I think the interpretation of the Phrase Finder there is nonsense. I've never heard it before, and it doesn't even make sense to