Just an idle thought

So, Gutenberg and his printing press. Add that translation of the Bible into the vernacular. The Common Man no longer needed the intercession of the established Church to read God’s word. Which is why printed Bibles in the vernacular were burnt, along with their translators.

Social media allows the direct interaction of the unwashed. Without the intercession of the establishment power structure through the vertical media. No wonder they’re trying to regulate.

And who won first time around? And do we think the result was, after the burnings, a good one or not?

34 comments on “Just an idle thought

  1. ‘So, Gutenberg and his printing press. Add that translation of the Bible into the vernacular. The Common Man no longer needed the intercession of the established Church to read God’s word. Which is why printed Bibles in the vernacular were burnt, along with their translators.’

    At best, a TRANSLATION of “God’s word.” At some point, it stops being “God’s word.”

    Was King James burnt?

    ‘Social media allows the direct interaction of the unwashed. Without the intercession of the establishment power structure through the vertical media. No wonder they’re trying to regulate.’

    No, the establishment is quite happy with social media, as it is a progressive cesspool. It is conservatives trying to regulate it to be neutral, without content management by the platform providers.

  2. Just means we have a new and different establishment though. And you think they are doing it to allow the great unwashed to interact freely, as opposed to sell stuff to them and kick out those with unauthorized opinions, while giving the establishment a huge data pool on all members?

    Anyway, wasn’t Fuckerberg rumoured to be considering a Prez bid?

  3. I believe it was vernacular bibles before Gutenberg that got burnt, and a few afterwards until the activity was recognised as pointless. Then they started burning people. Took the best part of two centuries before that was generally recognised as pointless.
    This time round I hope the burning is metaphorical and shorter lasting.
    But yes, in the end it was worth it- hell of a lot of pain to go through though.

  4. ‘a TRANSLATION of “God’s word.”’ The original NT is also a translation, since it’s written in Greek and Jesus and his circle spoke Aramaic.

    There are even people who argue that parts of the OT are translations, having first been written in Greek by Jews living in Egypt, and then translated into the already archaic language Hebrew. What their evidence is I don’t know, but at least their case is a useful reminder that the assumption that it must all first have been written in Hebrew is possibly built on not much evidence either.

  5. Come to think of it, which language was spoken by God to Moses? Hebrew (probably) didn’t yet exist at the purported time of Moses and anyway Moses presumably spoke Egyptian. What language was used for the writing on the Tablets of Stone? Maybe Akkadian – it was the international diplomatic language at the time.

    Nobody knows. Of course nobody can know because the whole shebang is fictional anyway.

  6. Tyndale was accused of “peddling neo-liberal fake news” by Ye Guardiane before being burned at the stake, so ‘tis said.

  7. “the whole shebang is fictional anyway”

    Christianity is like baseball: if it were invented today, no one would be interested.

  8. I am one of those rare people who have read the Bible from cover to cover. It is pretty much as you would expect if you took a pile of really old scrolls, translated them and bound them into a book. There is the odd flash of brilliance in there but it is mostly utter garbage and is full of absurdities. The real fear that the religious authorities must have had must have been that the proles would work out that it wasn’t the word of God and was therefore completely without authority. Which is of course what actually happened.

  9. “and anyway Moses presumably spoke Egyptian”

    But would modern day Egyptians recognise it as their language? I suspect it would have bigger differences than, say, Dutch and Afrikaan.

  10. @BiND
    Seeing as modern Egyptians speak Arabic, and AFAIAA no-one speaks Coptic (the final attested form of the Egyptian language – it is a language of liturgy only), no Egyptian would recognise it as their language.

    Add to that the fact that we don’t really know what ancient Egyptian sounded like, even though we can read it.

  11. ‘and Jesus and his circle spoke Aramaic’

    WHOA! You have evidence that Jesus actually existed ?!?!

  12. @ dearieme
    There are Muslims who insist that the Qu’ran must be read in mediaeval Arabic and atheists who object to Englishmen reading a translation of the Bible.
    The Septuagint was a translation of the Torah (and later other Hebrew books of the “Old Testament”) into Greek for the benefit of Jews in the diaspora by Jewish scholars in Alexandria. The people to whom you refer seem to be slightly confused in supposing that the translation went the other way.
    The poem “Job” may well have been translated into Hebrew as there is no clear identification of Job’s descent from Abraham. Parts of the book of Daniel were written in Hebrew, parts in Aramaic which calls into question the authenticity of the latter.
    Most of the original New Testament was written in Greek and the rest was translated into Greek so that it could be read throughout the Roman Empire by both Jews and Gentiles. In the Gospels the dialogue was translated as Jesus and his followers spoke Aramaic and Hebrew (when quoting the Torah and the Psalms and the Prophets) .
    There is no good reason to suppose that Hebrew did not exist at the time of Moses who would have been bilingual or trilingual like most Swiss.

  13. @ Gamecock
    Do you have evidence that Julius Caesar existed?
    There is more evidence, including non-Christian, for the existence of Jesus.

  14. “There are Muslims who insist that the Qu’ran must be read in mediaeval Arabic and atheists who object to Englishmen reading a translation of the Bible.”

    Muslims say translations are not the actual Qu’raan. There’s no objection to reading them, though.

    “There is no good reason to suppose that Hebrew did not exist at the time of Moses who would have been bilingual or trilingual like most Swiss.”

    I think the earliest records of paleo-Hebrew appeared about 400 years after Moses death. I’ve seen suggestions that he spoke Ancient Egyptian, some form of Yemeni-Arabic he got off the Midianites he spent his exile with, and precursors to paleo-Hebrew, which is apparently the only surviving Canaanite language.

    We know from cases of modern slavery that slaves often wind up learning the language of their owners. They may retain some form of pidgin or creole version of their original language, but for purely practical purposes they’d be used to Ancient Egyptian. Of course, on escaping that would probably be a politically unpopular choice, so there may be reason to think they’d have tried to drop it rather quickly, and would have picked up the languages of the region they were travelling through.

    On can speculate endlessly, but odds are if it’s not Egyptian then it’s not any language we know the name of now, or have any record of, and the truth is that nobody knows.

    “There is more evidence, including non-Christian, for the existence of Jesus.”

    Depending on what standard of evidence you accept, there’s also plenty of scriptural and documentary evidence of the existence of angels and demons, too. Non-Christian sources simply repeat what Christians said of themselves. But as you say, that’s about as good as it gets for any historical figures from that time.

    Historians have notoriously low standards. Jesus probably existed, but doubt has been expressed about the bits with the zombies and angels and water-skiing incidents. (And likewise for Moses, the bit of the story with the talking donkey and the incompetent angel was probably not entirely factual…) If faith can move mountains, believing in the mere existence of a carpenter called Joshua somewhere in the Middle East is not much of a challenge for it.

  15. – “There is more evidence, including non-Christian, for the existence of Jesus.

    A) There isn’t.
    B) Jesus was a common name. Countless Jesuses have existed.
    C) By your own logic you must be still more convinced by the large number of Elvis sightings; not least because they are extant and unaccompanied by claims that he was a magic pixie who created the entire Universe in 6 days.
    D) A character being mentioned in a historical document, or even proven to exist, in no way supports the assertion that he was actually a manifestation of an evil daemon who drowned essentially the entire population of the world and condemned everyone to an eternity of burning fire unless they felate him.

    Pursuing that last a little further, with your “do you have evidence that Julius Caesar existed” example: The Caesar family claimed descent from the goddess Venus.
    Your argument seem to be that if we accept the mountain of evidence for Julius Caesar’s existence we must necessarily believe the story that he was descended from a literal sex goddess.

  16. “Do you have evidence that Julius Caesar existed?
    There is more evidence, including non-Christian, for the existence of Jesus.”

    Bollocks.

    There is independent evidence of Julius Caesar contemporary with Julius Caesar.

    There is no contemporary evidence at all of Jesus.

  17. The problem with an English translation of the Qur’an is that you’re at the mercy of the translator. Take for example the Arabic word sakinah, equivalent to the Hebrew word shekinah, which is a spirit from God that descends into the hearts of gnostics.

    An English translation of the Qur’an will simply say “peace” or “tranquility”, the common meaning of the word sakinah, which misses the meaning completely.

  18. if you can get killed in the name of religion , any religion- it might be wise to not be a know all smart alec.

    as many have found out to their cost.

    Death answer all things

  19. The problem with an English translation of the Qur’an is that you’re at the mercy of the translator.

    That’s true of any translation. Unless you’re a native speaker of the original language (or have devoted most of a lifetime to studying it), you can’t read the original text and expect to capture all the nuances. Islamic students are taught the Qur’an in Arabic, but (unless they come from an Arabic speaking country) that would be like teaching GCSE French by getting students to memorise Les Misérables – they might learn something by doing so, but they won’t grasp all the details.

    For an excellent discussion of the issues of translation, I recommend Hofstadter’s (he of Gödel, Escher, Bach) Le Ton beau de Marot, which includes a chapter on various attempts to translate Jabberwocky into foreign.

  20. With the Jesus existing thing.. Yup no evidence in the form of modern standards (pics or it didn’t happen). That Augustian census nativity thing being entirely made up to move a Jesus who operated oop north to be born dahn saaf in order to fulfil an OT prophesy) But they do sort of point to there being some gallillean bloke because why bother to make up that story? If you’re entirely inventing it and not elaborating around a real life charismatic with a northern twang, then you don’t have to go to such lengths to fit him into the prophesy you just sharpen your quill and off you go.

  21. “You have evidence that Jesus actually existed ?!?!”

    It’s perfectly arguable that he didn’t, but I think it’s a bit more likely that he did. Naturally, most of the stuff that’s reported about him is sheer invention, with the two nativity yarns being the pick for preposterousness.

    Josephus’s offhand reference to him when defining who James was strikes me as evidence for his existence. Better yet, in many ways, is that for centuries the early Jewish opponents of Christianity banged on about what a rotter he had been but none of them argued that he hadn’t existed. That’s important because Jewish literature wasn’t exposed to editing by monks, a notoriously dishonest bunch.

    He seems to have been a fairly familiar type of the period – a charismatic preacher and magician from the sticks. The tale of how he fell foul of the authorities in Jerusalem makes perfectly good sense. I don’t believe in his resurrection because I don’t believe in the supernatural, but plenty of Jews of his time did believe in so there’s nothing inauthentic about the tale: untrue but not inauthentic. (Unlike the nativity rubbish which is neither true nor authentic.)

    The real problem for the bible is at the beginning – 100% balls. No Adam, no Eve, no Noah, no Abraham, no Moses, no exodus, no Joshua, no conquest. No David (probably), no Solomon (almost certainly), no mighty Kingdom/Empire stretching from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates, and (I guess) no mighty temple either.

    If you’ve not looked at the bible for a while I recommend Mark, who seems to me to be a good novelist (though who he was is quite unknown). He starts from a sensible place, namely when Jesus becomes a public figure by being baptised. He ends in an interesting place (you have to ignore the stuff added by a different hand after chapter 16 verse 8) with the women scurrying away from the empty tomb, mystified about what has happened.

    Of course he knew so little about Palestine that he gets some of the geography wrong, and he knows so little about the life of J that he fills the lacunae with plagiarism from bits of the OT. J died in about 29 or 30 AD. Mark wrote in about 65 – 70 AD (or so scholars think), and there’s no particular reason to suppose that Mark ever met an eyewitness to the events of Jesus’ life. So his sources must have been second- to umpteenth-hand, plus presumably scraps of earlier writing. He padded these out. Maybe “novelist” wasn’t the ideal description: maybe “journalist” would have been better. Anyway, he made stuff up to fill gaps. Or his informants had already done that for him.

  22. ‘Jesus and his followers spoke Aramaic and Hebrew’

    Now that’s funny, I don’t care who you are.

  23. “The people to whom you refer seem to be slightly confused in supposing that the translation went the other way.” They may have been wrong but they certainly weren’t confused.

  24. “That’s true of any translation. Unless you’re a native speaker of the original language (or have devoted most of a lifetime to studying it), you can’t read the original text and expect to capture all the nuances.”

    That’s particularly true in this case, because Classical Arabic (what the Qur’aan is written in) is quite different from Modern Arabic, in the same sort of way Medieval English is different from Modern English. The fact that the early Arabic writing system didn’t put in any of the short vowels and certain markings to distinguish similar consonants (harakat and tashkil), combined with certain bits of vocabulary falling out of use so nobody knows what the word means any more, makes reading the Qur’aan a challenge even for a native Arabic speaker. Mostly they just memorise the sounds – it’s ritual magic, not information.

    “But they do sort of point to there being some gallillean bloke because why bother to make up that story?”

    There were probably lots of galilean blokes – the Jews were occupied and under the boot of the Romans, their traditions fortold a Messiah who would be sent by God to free them, and mystery cults abounded. It would be easy for any cult leader to co-opt any myths and stories floating around, miracles and heroic deeds and so on, and wrap them all up into a single narrative that explained them as part of a coherent whole, putting themselves in the centre. Think of the way L Ron Hubbard borrowed modern stories of extraterrestrial aliens, reincarnation, and gnostic mysticism to invent Scientology. With all these cult leaders around, stories about some local bloke of humble origins turning out to be the mystic avatar of God come to rescue to people would have been in common circulation. Just as cults borrowed legends and stories of Mighty Deeds and Interesting Characters and Cool Plot Twists from the culture they lived in, they would also borrow some of the heroes themselves. It’s quite possible that Jesus is a stitched-together amalgam of half a dozen different actual people.

    Anyone who reads a lot of science fiction and fantasy recognises the narrative tropes.

  25. “There were probably lots of galilean blokes – the Jews were occupied and under the boot of the Romans”: nope. At the time Galilee wasn’t part of the Empire, it was a client kingdom; it wasn’t occupied, it wasn’t garrisoned by Roman troops. Its ruler, the Tetrarch, was a son of Herod the Great, namely Herod Antipas.

    Judea was part of the Empire, ruled by a Roman governor who liked to be beside the seaside at Caesarea Maritima. Under his oversight Jerusalem was run by the High Priest.

  26. There’s another correlation. Hand in hand with the introduction of the printed book went the dissemination of the ability to read what was printed in them. Pre Gutenberg, reading & writing were very much the province of the church. Pretty well nobody else could. or of they could, they’d been schooled by the church. The rulers & aristocracy & merchants etc. If they could be bothered rather than rely on a scribe.Basically restricted to those with a stake in the status quo. It’s when books can be read by those without a stake, the demon escapes from the bottle.
    There’s something similar happened with the internet. My experience goes back a little bit further as a Usenet user. There was a afinity between people who posted on boards, irrespective of their differences in other matters. They all had to cope with the technical demands of getting on there in the first place. Early hardware was a very unforgiving medium. You tended to be reality based people because fantasies don’t push electrons down wires. Much the same was true of the early internet. There were a lot of kids on it but it was Geeksville. There was a minimum level of competence required that wasn’t shared by the prospective burger-flipping community & future Mumsnet account holders. Does the launch of Apple – the computer for people who don’t understand computers – mark the point where it all started to change? Seems the time when the people with the braincell count on the low 4 figures first made their appearance. As the tech that enables IT has become easier to use the intellect of those using it has declined. Until we got to Twatter. There was a reason one was strongly advised not to SMS pissed at 2 AM. Apart from the dexterity problem with the fone keys. Something completely unknown, apparently, to those who Twat. It’s never the medium the ideas & information are exchanged on that’s the problem. It’s who has them & who receives them

  27. From way back up the thread:

    john77
    “Do you have evidence that Julius Caesar existed?
    There is more evidence, including non-Christian, for the existence of Jesus.”

    My somewhat less than mint JC denarius would seem to indicate otherwise.

  28. And completely off topic:
    I just noticed the photo on the pack of fags I just opened is exactly same as that on the empty discarded one. Despite being different brands Strikes me one could build up a complete collection of cancers. Swap with your friends. I wonder if there are any hard to find ones could be worth money in a few years…

  29. “Do you have evidence that Julius Caesar existed?
    There is more evidence, including non-Christian, for the existence of Jesus.”

    Non sequitur. Argumentum ad ignorantium.

    Lack of evidence (sic) for Julius Caesar is NOT evidence FOR Jesus of Nazareth.

    Though it is a good theist rationalization.

    “There is more evidence, including non-Christian, for the existence of Jesus.”

    Great news! Share some of it with us! People have been looking for some for nearly 2 thousand years. And you finally found it ?!?!

  30. “It would be easy for any cult leader to co-opt any myths”
    well yes and that’s effectively what Paul did. He came across galilean blokes followers and he co-opted their stories. And, without Paul’s explanation why it was their chippy messiah ended his life of earth experiencing Roman carpentry techniques rather than glorious liberation, probably wouldn’t have taken off.

  31. @ Gamecock
    You have failed to read the post by dearieme who isn’t even on my side but chooses to be honest.
    @ Hallowed Be
    It would help if you knew what you were talking about. The early Indian Christians whose conversion was attributed to St Thomas were completely independent of St Paul.
    @bis
    There are millions of Maria Theresa dollars minted in third countries by people who had, at the time, no proof of the existence of Maria Theresa.

  32. Thanks, John. I asked you for your evidence for Jesus and you site a dearieme post. DUH.

    “There are millions of Maria Theresa dollars minted in third countries by people who had, at the time, no proof of the existence of Maria Theresa.”

    Which has WTF to do with evidence for Jesus? Defending your rationalization is NOT evidence. In fact, it is delusional.

    Again, what is your evidence for Jesus that you claimed to have?

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