Sunday, October 12, 2014

Two Journal Articles on Earthquakes (SEISMOI)

Doing a little more research on the Greek word SEISMOS within a biblical context, I've found Moulton and Milligan's study of the ancient papyri to be helpful. Furthermore, James S. Murray reviews literary, epigraphical, and numismatic evidence for urban earthquakes (particularly in Asia Minor and related areas) in "The Urban Earthquake Imagery and Divine Judgement in John's Apocalypse," Novum Testamentum, Vol. 47, Fasc. 2 (Apr. 2005), pp. 142-161.

But one of the most important articles on this subject has to be Richard Bauckham, "The Eschatological Earthquake in the Apocalypse of John," Novum Testamentum, Vol. 19, Fasc. 3 (Jul. 1977), pp. 224-233.

The latter also provides some context to the biblical use of SEISMOS.

22 comments:

Duncan said...

I will have a look at these but I will probably find that they are assuming [earth]quake.

Even if we take the term to be referring literal events. To prefix with "earth" is limiting the meaning of seismos since it can also be tied closely to powerful winds. Which can occur over sea or land & so are not excluded when referring to various locations.

Duncan said...

Edgar,

See,

https://jhupbooks.press.jhu.edu/content/environmental-problems-greeks-and-romans

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

I don't know if they're assuming the meaning "earthquake" since the articles appear to be letting context and historical events govern their understanding of the lexical semantics. I didn't realize there were so many earthquakes in the 1st century until I consulted the literature on the subject. The ancients were quite familiar with heavy seismic activity in urban areas.

Edgar Foster said...

Thanks also for the reference

Duncan said...

Lydia earthquake AD17.
Laodicea earthquake AD60.
Bay of naples AD62.

And this is the point, most of the earthquakes in this region were a buildup to the eruption of Vesuvius AD79.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_earthquakes

And there were no more than the historical norms in general terms.

Of Vesuvius a long history of violent eruptions is documented by radiometric dating of pyroclastic deposits (deposits of ash formed by explosive activity). One of the more recent eruptions was in 217 BC. The mountain was then quiet for over 200 years and people forgot the dangers. The population around the mountain increased, vineyards were planted in the rich volcanic soil, and it all came to an end in the eruption of AD 79.

Vesuvius has erupted dozens of times since AD 79 as well. The last major eruption was March 18, 1944. Today, hundreds of thousands of people live in the most-dangerous areas around Vesuvius while millions live close enough to be dramatically affected by its next eruption.

So perhaps the relevance is the locations that large populations choose to live.

http://www.womansday.com/life/9-active-volcanoes-people-still-live-near-107324

But here is my point about bias:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_environmental_history#1st_millennium_AD

All we can list is earthquakes and volcanoes because the scars in the landscape are still visible long after the event but a hurricane or tornado does not leave the same marks but is just as damaging to humans & just as visible at the time it occurs. The deforestation of Greece, the denuding of a large proportion of the cedars of Lebanon & many other that we do not have specific records of, like the emerging evidences of how much of Africa and Egypt were forested prior to the cattle cultures (south america is currently following the same pattern). These kind of events leave no easy scar to find but at the time are just as relevant & particularly relevant to seismic weather events.

Duncan said...

Regarding Matthew - "We find them included, simply as one among many other natural and man-made disasters, in catalogs of signs of the End or in series of preliminary judgments which lead up to the End... The earthquake in these contexts has no special role as the accompaniment of the eschatological theophany."

So there is some distance between between the essays you have referenced. Revelation should have no special bearing on the understanding Matthew.

My point being that there is enough evidence of Mathew 24 being ALL man made disasters & still no specific evidence of [earth]quake other than it's prominence in literature with respect to the cost of urban repairs. Even in these instances does the non- koine record actually state that these are due to seismos tes ges or equivalent ?

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Compare Mat 8:24 with Luke 8:23.

The relationship between σεισμος (koine) & λαιλαψ ανεμου (greek).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=227tQtg4xBU

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

Yes, σεισμος and λαιλαψ ανεμου are describing the same thing in these passages or in this context. In other contexts, the same relationship might not hold (i.e. the passages in Revelation or other Gospel verses). I'm not sure why you split up Koine and Greek, but I emphasize that we must examine how σεισμος is being employed contextually.

As for famines and pestilences, they could be man-made phenomena, but not necessarily or at least, not in all cases.

Duncan said...

Edgar

Basically ALL pestilences are man made. They are a byproduct of mono-culture which does not exist in naturally diverse environmental system. 1 crop = 1 pest.

In the case of locust a declining food supply which is usually triggered by a lack of water:-

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Locusts/locusts3.php

This started with over grazing in Africa's cattle culture & environmental degradation in the fertile crescent.

Sumerian text's call agriculture a curse from the gods, when man was made to plough & this is today proved correct.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjdQ_Btl9jQ

As far as the varied Greek dialects I would have thought you are already aware of the differences.

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/against-all-odds-archaic-greek-in-a-modern-world

It's really no different to today - how London English (Shakespeare) is different to middle English (Chaucer) . Oxford English to Caribbean Patois (perhaps the best analogy).

You can see it in the cultural differences:-

The frequency of usage of "kingdom of god" in Luke compared with "kingdom of heaven" in Matthew.

Neither Luke or Paul at the aforementioned event & yet he gives a more precise description.

As far as the context at Mat 24, I just cannot see it unless Jesus was implying that the temple would be shaken to the ground?

My original argument I think is still valid due to Jesus word at 24:6 about wars & reports of wars - "each time see to it that you men are not disturbed, thrown into disorder, or terrified by the commotion, outcries or uproar." then in 24:7 he re-emphasizing what is to happen & that those in the said wars would be "thrown into disorder, or terrified by the commotion, outcries or uproar." & his disciples should not.

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

I don't have much time today, but I just want to clarify that the Greek dialects are quite familiar to me, but what puzzled me is why you wrote one word in the Gospels is Koine whereas the other is Greek. For the most part, the entire NT was written in Koine Greek, period. Why say one word is Koine and the other expression is Greek? Then again, that may not have been your intention. It was just puzzling, but no big issue.

Regards,

Edgar

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Koine - traders Greek.

Greek - more formal toward classical.

"the entire NT was written in Koine Greek" - highly debatable. The copies we have are in Greek but I do know the latest theories on literacy & which languages were spoken by the majority in Palestine.

This is why I mention the usage frequency of theos in Mat (Aramaic to koine) to Luke (Greek).

Matthew from the Aramaic & Jewish perspective would not use "the kingdom of god" but instead use "heaven" as an idiom. Luke has no such issues.

As for John,

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1507672?uid=3738032&uid=2485034753&uid=2&uid=3&uid=60&sid=21104938061083

These debates continue but that is why so many are forced to theorize about a "Q" in Aramaic.

But the word becoming flesh - not the word became a man or the word became Jesus ? & flesh (in Aramaic) being the same as NEWS (the TEACHING became News - the teaching was spoken).

To argue that the literary quality of the Greek is to good to be a translation would be like people looking back centuries later at only the KJV and saying that the literary quality is to good to be anything other than from the original English!

Duncan said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg-dJA3SnTA

From about 1:48:00

http://www.dts.edu/read/wallace-new-testament-manscript-first-century/

This appears to be one of the old trick used - we are studying and are about to publish. Since February 2012 came and went. Brill has not published & no new news seems forthcoming. I am as skeptical as Ehrman on this one.

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

my comment pertained to the extant MSS--we have almost 6000 surviving MSS in Koine Greek. Now it's possible that the Gospels (in part or ex toto) might have been originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic. But we don't have any surviving MSS of an Aramaic Matthew or an Aramaic Gospel of John. We're forced to work with the extant texts, which as far as we know, were written in Koine (common) Greek.

So I'm not denying that the Gospels might have been first written in Aramaic; my point is about the texts we currently have at hand.

To say the Logos became flesh (sarx) could very well mean that he became a man (see Louw-Nida Greek and English Lexicon) although others have understood the language to mean "the Logos assumed human nature."

I'm also not sure mof the basis for rendering LOGOs "news"--even if one appeals to some underlying Aramaic substratum--but I'm not going to argue about the point.

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Was it "all things came into existence through him" or "through it"? This as an interpretational decision.

Edgar Foster said...

In πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο (John 1:3), the phrase δι' αὐτοῦ can be rendered through "him" which is more likely since John is referring to the LOGOS or "it" can be used for αὐτοῦ since the pronoun is 3rd pers sing.

Duncan said...

It is still an interpretational decision. Compare john 14:6 with exodus 18:20 psalms 119:142 Deut 32:47.

Duncan said...

Also,

Wisdom of Solomon 18:15,16 your unfeigned commandment.

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

I admit that translating the Greeek noun with the neuter "it" is possible here, but not as likely IMO, as using "him." My view is based on grammar (the grammatical gender of LOGOS) and the context.

Exodus 18:20 seems to favor the "him" rendering; Deut 32:47 could be translated "it" or "they," although the context is different for λόγος than what we find in John 1:1-18.

"For this is no idle word for you – it is your life!" (Deut 32:47 NET)

I'm not really sure how Wisdom of Sol 18:15-16 tips the scale one way or the other.

Duncan said...

I suppose it is all about what type of memra we are here seeing. A Hebrew understanding or the Greek which I believe stems from the vedic vak. These also become overlayed on the hebrew of much later works.

The terms used are not as relevant as the object they are referring too. You know what wisdom of Solomon is referring to in general and you know its current dating.

Duncan said...

http://www.iupindia.in/1010/IJHC_Renaissances_with_Vedic_Vak_7.html

Duncan said...

Edgar,

Coming back to the main point of this thread, I thought that this is an interesting point & it may in part account for the usage of seismos for storm & earthquakes when vigorous.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46672579/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.VEuxKGhwZpU

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120308101327.htm

The pnuma through the ground?

Edgar Foster said...

Duncan,

one last thing about pestilences: it's hard for me to believe that all pestilences are brought about by humans. For example, what about black death, malaria, and the spanish flu?