The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dan and Bernice exchange words


A selection of text in Greek from Matthew 8, from the Codex
Vaticanus. Note that the words and paragraphs are run together.

So, after I wrote on November 8 about Mayor-elect Mapp's outreach to key employees for their thoughts on the transition to the new administration (see here), Bernice posted a brief note saying my use of the word 'hajj' to describe the visit to City Hall struck her as disrespectful of Islam.

While what Bernice says about the word as one of the five Pillars of Islam is perfectly true, that is not all there is to be said.

It is related to another Arabic word, hejira, which is used in Islam to describe another specific 'trip', the flight of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE.

Both refer to travel or a trip, with a specific purpose.

Who says that the word needs to be restricted to its religious context only?

For contrast, let's take a look at a couple of words used in special ways by Christians: Baptizo and Transfiguratio.

The Greek word baptizo (βαπτίζω), used by Christians to denote the sacrament of initiation into the Church, has its origins in a commonplace, everyday activity: washing. But within the context of the Church, the term is changed to mean a washing that changes the essence of a thing.

Consider this item by James Montgomery Boice from the May 1989 issue of Bible Study magazine --

The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words [baptizo and bapto -- DD].

Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change.

When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. 'He that believes and is baptised shall be saved'. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!
Are baptized Christians pickled persons?

Or consider the Latin word 'transfiguratio', which means literally to change a thing's appearance. The English 'transfiguration' derives from St. Jerome's translation of the Greek word μετεμορφώθη (see Mark 9: 1-8).

Until St. Jerome's use, it did not have a specifically Christian meaning, having been used by Ovid famously just to describe a thing's changed appearance.

For Christians, however, thanks to Jerome, it has come to mean very particularly Jesus' changed appearance after taking some disciples along as he prayed on a mountain where the gospel tells us they witnessed Moses and Elijah adoring Jesus and heard God's voice (for the second time) declaring Jesus to be God's well-beloved son (see the Catholic Encyclopedia here).

If I refer to Adrian's treatment at lhe hands of his Council colleagues last Tuesday evening as a 'baptism of fire', am I being disrespectful of Christianity?

And if I refer to his hopes for a 'transfiguration' of downtown Plainfield by development and redevelopment, have I maligned believers?

You tell me.







-- Dan Damon [follow]


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8 comments:

Mr X said...

there is a historic

al distinction between hajj and hijra many people made hajj before the advent of the holy prophet muhammd pbuh but there pilgrimage was for worship idols the holy prophet came with monotheism or tauhid the unity or oness of G d now hijra is exclusively used to refer to departure of muhammad out of mecca into medina thus the establishment of the islamic calender as in A.H

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many fewer wars there would have been throughout the centuries if their were no religion at all?

Anonymous said...

Read Koran. You will find muslims want kill us.

No one can deny it. It's in the Koran.

You are all so naive.

BTW, Seattle just elected a socialist.

That should make you all happy

Anonymous said...

Dan,
I thought Bernice's reaction to your use of "hajj" was false outrage. Maybe not false, but she felt outraged because she believed she was supposed to feel that way (without clearly understanding or being able to explain in her post why.)

As you clearly showed, with the use of words like baptism or transfiguration, (and many more - confirmed, anointed, spirit) all bets are off - nothing is sacred, or everything is sacred. You have to decide and go with it if you plan on writing or speaking in this world.

Mr x said...

Dan you actually posted that comment about muslims. Dan don't drink that kool aid . As Salaam alaikum

Anonymous said...

Religion: The cancer of the world, where men and women are enslaved by the worst fear of all, death.

Dan said...

To 4:49 AM -- Don't worry, I'm not drinking any Koo-Aid, but isn't 5:05 PM's comment a sign of what ignorance dwells among us. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Why use the Latin "transfiguratio" when the Greek "metamorphio" is well-known to us as metamorphasis? "Baptize" is a transliteration, "transfiguratio" is not, it is a translation.