Classical Studies Archives

May 3, 2008

Quote of the Day: Plato on Knowing that You Don't Know

THEAETETUS: Well, do you see what we're looking for?
VISITOR: I think I see a large, difficult type of ignorance marked off from the others and overshadowing all of them.
THEAETETUS: What's it like?
VISITOR: Not knowing, but thinking that you know. That's what probably causes all the mistakes we make when we think.
THEAETETUS: That's true.
VISITOR: And furthermore it's the only kind of ignorance that's called lack of learning.
THEAETETUS: Certainly.
VISITOR: Well then, what should we call the part of teaching that gets rid of it?
THEAETETUS: The other part consists in the teaching of crafts, I think, but here in Athens we call this one education...
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August 15, 2007

logikos Doesn't Mean "Spiritual"

John at Locusts and Honey is wondering where the NASB's translation of 1 Peter 2:2 ("long for the pure milk of the word") came from, as compared with the NRSV which has (like many other modern translations) "long for the pure, spiritual milk." The NASB translation led John to suppose correctly that some reference to logos was present in this verse, and I'm sure that's exactly what the NASB translators intended in translating logikos as "of the word." This is precisely what the Greek suffix ikos (from which we get "ic") does: it forms an adjective meaning "having to do with." Now, the thesis of this post is that that word doesn't mean "spiritual." ...
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January 1, 2007

Plato on Homosexuality

A month or so ago, I published a post which has been rather popular on Christianity and Homosexuality. In it, I discussed Paul's statements on homosexuality in contrast to the "received view" in Greco-Roman "polite society." I referred then to Plato's Symposium and Phaedrus, early and middle dialogs, respectively, which contain useful information on the practice of pedaresty in classical Athens. (If you are interested in interpreting Paul, it is important to note that classical Athens is some 400 years earlier...
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December 22, 2006

Philosophical Language in Hebrews 11:1

Over at Better Bibles Blog, Wayne Leman is discussing the difficulties involved in producting coherent English from Hebrews 11:1. I want here to produce some considerations on the use of a couple of unusual (in the NT) words in this verse that will hopefully help us to produce a better translation of the word. Wayne made it clear that his post was primarily about the coherence of the English. However, I think part of the reason we have difficulty rendering this verse in English is that we're not totally clear on what we are trying to communicate...
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December 10, 2006

"The Life and Death of Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare

Tonight, my proposal to direct Shakespeare's "The Life and Death of Julius Caesar" was officially approved as the Underground Shakespeare Company's 2007 main fall show. Auditions will be open to all...
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November 30, 2006

Christianity and Homosexuality

In the very first Carnival of Citizens, there is a post at HeartFulls (a blog with which I was not previously familiar) in which the author wants to know how Christians deal with homosexuality. She seems to be particularly concerned with the question of gay marriage (which is presumably why this post was included in the Carnival of Citizens). She cites a few Scripture passages that are commonly used in arguments, but doesn't present a clear picture of how and why these arguments cause Christians to hold the positions they do (presumably, she doesn't know quite how these passages are interpreted, which is why this is part of her "I want to know" series). In this post, I will try to explain how these verses are interpreted, and how they should influence Christians' actions, especially in the political realm...
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October 29, 2006

Preserving Ambiguity in Translation

I'm studying Plato's Parmenides in a graduate seminar this semester. It is rather a baffling text, and there is a wealth of secondary literature which contains little consensus on anything. Today, as I was reading Constance Meinwald's guidebook to the dialog, I came across an issue in the translation of the text which I think is relevant to a number of discussion about Bible translation that I've had on-blog, and thought I would share. The issue is one of preserving a (probably intentional) ambiguity in the original in translation, and thus with the degree of interpretation done by translators, and the degree left up to readers of the translation.
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July 22, 2006

Ekklesia and the Etymological Fallacy

Not long ago, I wrote a post suggesting that the New Testament may have consciously made use of the language of Athenian democracy, especially in its usage of the words ekklesia and kerux. JollyBlogger has now posted on the etymological fallacy in our understanding of the ekklesia (HT: Parableman). The etymological fallacy occurs when an interpreter uses a piece of information about the history of a word which was unknown to the author or, at least, which the author was not thinking about in his usage of the word...
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May 17, 2006

The Evangelical Libertarian Classicist?

It's official! Ok, so actually it's not official, but it's true: having just submitted my last assignment for my Attic tragedy class, I have completed all of my major requirements for classical studies (Greek language and literature emphasis). One down, two to go... This is also my last assignment for my semester in Greece. On Friday I'll be heading back to Philadelphia where I will be working as a 'software engineer' for Hx Technologies this summer, then back to Penn for another year to finish up my other two majors in computer science and philosophy. There may be lighter blogging...
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March 13, 2006

Blogging Parmenides

I feel the need to point to this post about Parmenides over at Mathetes simply because ... well, because I approve of blogging about Parmenides! The post gives a good overview of Parmenides' argument for the establishment of monism. To which let me add three things: This is the oldest deductively valid argument in surviving literature. It is contained in a hexameter poem (written, presumably, in imitation of Homer and Hesiod) which begins with an appeal to divine revelation (a narrative about being carried in a chariot to meet a strange goddess who promises to reveal "the way of truth"...
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January 14, 2006

Tying Up Some Loose Ends: Greek Musterion in the New Testament

I've been meaning for some time to write a post tying together two topics that I had previously discussed. The items in question are my discussion of translation and transliteration and my suggestion in this post that Pagan religion might have had an influence on the New Testament's mode of expression. The common tie? The word "mystery." This word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is first attested with the definition "A religious truth known or understood only by divine revelation; esp. a doctrine of faith involving difficulties which human reason is incapable of solving" in the Wyclif Bible of...
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January 7, 2006

Christianity and Aristotelian Metaphysics

In a recent discussion with Suzanne McCarthy, my views were compared to Aristotle's, and I pointed out that I am really more of a Platonist and am often irritated at the continuing dominance of basically Aristotelian metaphysical ideas in Christian philosophy. In this post I will discuss the nature of these Aristotelian metaphysical claims, the manner in which they have been incorporated into Christian thought, and my reasons for objecting to said incorporation. Before I start, I should note that I am not an expert on Aristotle, so I will be examining only basic points of Aristotelian metaphysics, and relying...
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October 20, 2005

An Ancient Greek What?!

The Economist is reporting on a new reconstruction by Michael Wright, a British museum curator, of the so-called Antikythera Mechanism. The Slashdot headline reads, "Ancient Greek Computer Reconstructed." In case you were wondering what on earth the Antikythera Mechanism is or was, Slashdot seems to think it's a computer. From ancient Greece. How ancient, you ask? Well it was discovered 100 years ago in a shipwreck off an island near Crete. The shipwreck has been dated to 87 BC. Which brings us to the title of this post: an ancient Greek what?! Now, slashdot has a tendency to sensationalize, and...
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