The THEOI Project

This looks like a useful, growing, resource.

THEOI means “gods” in Greek. According to the site, it’s purpose is:

. . . exploring Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art. The aim of the project is to provide a comprehensive, free reference guide to the gods (theoi), spirits (daimones), fabulous creatures (theres) and heroes of ancient Greek mythology and religion.

Check it out!

More Free Online Resources for Ancient Research

As is my custom, every once in a while I have to post something that veers away from exposing paleobabble toward real research. I’ve posted in the past about the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and its posting of various volumes related to Assyriology. Here are some other goodies (courtesy of the Ancient World Online blog):

The Claremont Colleges Digital Library offers several open access resources relating to antiquity:

The Bulletin of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity is published periodically under the auspices of the Society for Antiquity and Christianity for the general information of persons interested in the research programs of the Institute.
The Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia (CCE) will initially include approximately 2800 articles published in The Coptic Encyclopedia (Aziz S. Atiya, ed. NY: Macmillan, 1991).
The Nag Hammadi codices, thirteen ancient manuscripts containing over fifty religious and philosophical texts written in Coptic and hidden in an earthenware jar for 1,600 years, were accidentally discovered in upper Egypt in the year 1945.

Attalus

This site contains over 25,000 links to Greek and Latin authors online. The links include detailed lists of events and sources for the history of the Hellenistic world and the Roman republic. It includes links to online translations of many of the sources, as well as new translations of some works which have not previously been easily available in English.

New Scholarly E-Book Launch for Greek and Latin Literature

My employer, Logos Bible Software, announced a new brand today — Noet, the beginning of our effort to do for classical Greek and Latin literature what we did for biblical studies. You can read our CEO’s blog post about the launch to get introduced to what Noet’s all about. Here are some excerpts:

Noet (rhymes with “poet”) is the Logos platform repurposed for scholarly ebooks outside biblical studies: Greek and Latin classics, philosophy, literature, Shakespeare, Judaica, etc. We will reuse the key Logos platform components with Noet branding, from the online bookstore to desktop software to web viewers to mobile apps on iOS and Android.

But more excitingly, we’ll customize Logos 5’s tools to support the special needs of disciplines beyond biblical and theological studies: we’ll support powerful searching of philosophical themes, interlinear editions of classical texts, word-for-word comparisons of different editions of Shakespeare, and even specialized timelines and infographics.

Logos has offered a wide range of content for many years, and there’s a lot of content in other fields that our users find useful: Greek and Latin classical literature is important to serious biblical study and lexicography; philosophy is of interest to theologians and seminary students. We want to develop the tools that will support students of the Bible in these adjacent disciplines.

Learn more at Noet.com.

666 PaleoBabble

Someone kindly brought this piece of paleobabble to my attention recently.  The site argues that certain Arabic letters/symbols visually resemble the Greek text of “666” in the book of Revelation. More accurately, the Arabic allegedly resembles the common Greek New Testament manuscript abbreviation for “666” (the number is abbreviated to correspond to the numbers “six hundred” – “sixty” – and “six”).  Here’s a picture that explains the claim (Maybe it’s just me, but I only see a visual similarity for ONE (the blue line) of the three letters):

Some observations:

1. Arabic as we know it (and as this claim presents it) wasn’t a language until somewhere around the 4th century A.D. — 300 years after Revelation was written.

2. Literary Arabic of the kind this visual represents was even later – around the 7th century A.D.

3. The third letter (the numeral “6”) in the “Codex Vaticanus” manuscript image would likely not have been written that way originally. In earlier manuscripts, such as the papyri, the shape is different. Below is a picture of one of the few papyri of a portion of the book of Revelation that has survived.  It is P115 and dates to 225-275 A.D.  It has the passage that gives the number of the beast — except this is the famous example that has “616” instead of “666” (the red arrow points to the number).  That difference doesn’t matter for us, since the last number/letter is “6”:

Below is also a closeup with the Vaticanus “6” inserted for comparison:

Sorry boys and girls. Just more nonsense . . . er, paleobabble. Believing that the number of the beast points to a Muslim antichrist because of these Arabic letter/symbol shapes requires (among other things) believing that the writer of Revelation, writing in Greek, to be thinking the meaning of his Greek letters was to be found in letter shapes of a literary language that didn’t yet exist. Ridiculous. But fun.

The Name of Jesus: Does it Matter?

One of the most frequent email questions I get concerns the name “Jesus.” More specifically, the question goes something like this:  “Isn’t the name ‘Jesus’ a pagan invention?  Shouldn’t we say “Yeshua” or Yahshua” instead?”  I’m not sure what motivates people who assign importance to this. I’m sure many are NOT trying to sound superior or more in tune with Jesus or God.  But having fielded a number of these emails, I’m also sure that IS the motivation for some.  The question is frankly silly, since the same person (the man of Nazareth who was crucified, buried, and resurrected per the New Testament) is the referent of any of these name options. But is “Jesus” a pagan name? Isn’t “Yeshua” or “Yahshua” more accurate?

On one level, since Jesus was Jewish his name would have been “Yeshua” or “Yehoshua” in Hebrew or Aramaic.  I would hope that the Jesus Tomb fiasco would have taught us this much.  But, on another level, so what?  Since the New Testament was written in Greek, and Christians take the New Testament as inspired, it was GOD’s choice to have the name of the Son of God rendered in GREEK, which looks like this:

Some thoughts on the Greek name, now.

First, languages are different, and so proper names are not going to be pronounced the same way. Wow.  Profound.

Second, languages and language pronunciation (the sounds a speaker makes when air flows through or is stopped in/by the throat, mouth, lips and teeth) has no theology – a language can’t be pagan or orthodox. It just is.

Third, there is no magic in the Hebrew pronunciation of the name of the New Testament messiah. It matters not that we call the name of the man from Nazareth something that contains the syllable “Yah” (an abbreviation of the divine tetragrammation, YHWH).  If there was, God should have decided to give us the New Testament in Hebrew or Aramaic.  It would also have helped if he’d given us a Hebrew text where the tetragrammaton (YHWH) had vowels so we’d know how it was pronounced.

Fourth, “Yahshua” is actually not correct, if we’re going with Hebrew, given the vowel pointing in the Hebrew text.  The forms of this name/word that appear in the Hebrew text as pointed by the Masoretic scribes is “Yeshua” or “Yehoshua” (that is, for those who understand pointing) the vocal shewa is the pointing associated with the yodh in this name.  The “a” sound of “Yah” gets a vocal reduction because of the accent on the final syllable.  If you’re still awake after that, “Yah”shua is a contrived attempt to place the abbreviated form of the tetragrammation (Yah; which does occur in the Hebrew Bible) in place of the “Yeh” that actually occurs in this name.

Fifth, the problem for Greek is that there is no “H” in the language.  Greek makes the “h” sound via what’s called a rough-breathing mark – but that mark only appears on vowels at the beginning of words.  For example, the word for “sin” in Greek is “hamartia” but the Greek word begins with an alpha (“a”). A rough-breathing mark above the alpha tells the speaker/reader to pronounce the first syllable as “ha” not “a”.  Yehoshua (“Yahshua”) has an “h” in the middle, which Greek CANNOT REPRESENT because of the rules of its language/alphabet.  As such, “Iesous” (pronounced yay-soos) is the Greek spelling – and this corresponds precisely to “Yeshua” (which you notice has no “h” in the middle – only an “sh” which was one letter [“shin”] in Hebrew/Aramaic). Greek has so “sh” letter in its alphabet, so its spelling MUST use “s” [sigma].

Iesous is a perfectly acceptable and understandable GREEK rendering of the Hebrew Yeshua/Yehoshua. It isn’t “pagan” —  it’s a different language.