2021-09-28

New Page added to the blog

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by Neil Godfrey

For easier reference, I have collated all the posts on Jésus-Christ, sublime figure de papier by Nanine Charbonnel in chronological sequence in a new page on the right-hand margin, just beneath “Historical Method”: Jésus-Christ, sublime figure de papier / Nanine Charbonnel


2021-07-01

a little break

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by Neil Godfrey

Will be posting here again soon, and regularly again, too. Have been catching up on books and articles that I’ve acquired faster than I can read them — biblical, aboriginal, political, and other. When various changes happening all around settle down I’ll be relaxed enough to sit down and organize more regular posts. So don’t go away thinking I must have died.


2021-05-17

The Mask Wearing Experience in the 1918-20 Spanish Flu Pandemic – Australia

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by Neil Godfrey

Here’s a snippet from a historian’s description of how Australia experienced the 1918-20 Influenza Epidemic. I’ve selected the mask experience for this post. It’s from

  • McQueen, Humphrey. 1976. “The ‘Spanish’ Influenza Pandemic in Australia, 1918-19.” In Social Policy in Australia: Some Perspectives, 1901-1975, edited by Jill Roe. Stanmore, N.S.W: Cassell Australia. p. 136

I have added the images, most of them taken from the endnotes in Humphrey McQueen’s chapter. Bolded highlighting is my own.

If only on grounds of personal comfort the wearing of masks was a hotly contested issue in New South Wales where it was most strenuously enforced. The demand for masks was so extensive that to prevent profiteering the Commonwealth Government declared butter muslin and gauze to be ‘necessary commodities’ within proclaimed areas. This meant that maximum prices could not exceed those charged generally on 24 January 1919.

One doctor supported masks because they would help keep germs in and thus lessen contagion. Opposition came from those who saw them as breeding grounds for infection or as sapping the community’s ‘vital force’. A ‘Bovril’ advertisement alleged that anti-influenza masks were ‘like using barbed wire fences to shut out flies’.

Western Argus (Kalgoorlie, WA : 1916 – 1938), Tuesday 17 June 1919, page 5

With genuine if unconscious insight into the behaviour patterns of its readers, the Sydney Morning Herald suggested that resistance to masks stemmed from a distaste for making oneself conspicuous and that this would fade away ‘[o]nce the pioneers have introduced the fashion’ whereupon wearing a mask would become as natural as wearing a hat’.

Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), Wednesday 29 January 1919, page 10

But if masks were supposed to keep germs out, declared the Rhinologist at St Vincents, a simple cloth cover over mouth and/or nose was inadequate and he called for a full face mask with mica eye pieces. Others proposed variants included masks with handles for outdoor work and the ‘Lightning Germ Arrestor for Telephones’. The Director of Quarantine defended masks because they reassured ‘nervous persons’ and provided a ‘tangible.. .indication that precautions are being taken’.

Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), Saturday 9 August 1919, page 8
World (Hobart, Tas. : 1918 – 1924), Wednesday 20 August 1919, page 2

Leaving the article behind, I can’t resist adding some other items I came across while searching for the above.

I came across a family namesake of mine — possibly a distantly related ancestor of some sort — facing court for refusing to wear a mask in a train carriage:

Some masks from 1919, the normal and the creative:

Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Monday 10 February 1919, page 6
Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), Thursday 6 February 1919, page 4
Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), Saturday 8 February 1919, page 4

 


2021-03-19

Damascus, code name for the Temple? (Post Script to Jewish Origin… NC’s Jésus-Christ…)

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by Neil Godfrey

I skipped a detail in my previous post because at the time I could not verify certain information in Nanine Charbonnel’s chapter, but today I have a more complete picture. Recall NC was citing a Qumran scroll as an extra-biblical example of a community identifying themselves with God’s Temple. Here’s the interesting snippet I omitted at the time (my translation and highlighting):

Likewise the famous Damascus Document (probably from the 1st century BC) is the text of the new covenant in the land of Damascus2, which place (in Hebrew DaMaSQ) could well turn out3, quite simply, by commutation of the letters, the coded name of the Temple (MQDS). (NC, 292)

As for the Damascus Document [=CD] being the written new covenant of the land of Damascus I cannot say (NC attributes this view to André Dupont-Sommer, the translator of the document into French) but there is no question that the CD refers several times to “the new covenant in the land of Damascus”.

What interests me, though, is the possibility that Damascus could be a code name for the Temple — or more specifically, to the Sanctuary. The word represented in the quote by MQDS is miqdâsh, miqqedâsh / מִקְדָּשׁ — or MQDŠ. See Strong’s for its occurrences in the Bible. Rather than the Temple per se, the word is used to refer to the Sanctuary, the holy place — although by metonymy it might also indicate the Temple. 

NC attributes the possibility that Damascus is code for the Sanctuary to Katell Berthelot, an idea that she explains was passed on to her in oral communication. Who is Katell Berthelot, I hear you wondering? To find out more I collected a few of her articles …

Berthelot, Katell. “A Classical Ethical Problem in Ancient Philosophy and Rabbinic Thought: The Case of the Shipwrecked.” The Harvard Theological Review 106, no. 2 (2013): 171–99. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43297528

———. “Hecataeus of Abdera and Jewish ‘Misanthropy.’” Bulletin Du Centre de Recherche Français à Jérusalem, no. 19 (November 30, 2008). https://bcrfj.revues.org/5968.

———. “La Représentation Juive de l’empire Romain Comme Pendant et Frère Jumeau d’Israël: Avant-Propos = The Jewish representation of the Roman Empire as Israel’s twin brother or counterpart : history and significance.” Revue de l’histoire Des Religions 233, no. 2 (2016): 163–64. https://www.cairn.info/revue-de-l-histoire-des-religions-2016-2-page-163.htm

———. “L’Israël Moderne et Les Guerres de l’Antiquité, de Josué à Masada.” Anabases, no. 1 (2005): 119–37. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43595594

———. “Philo of Alexandria and the Conquest of Canaan.” Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Period 38, no. 1 (2007): 39–56. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24669821

———. “Philo’s Perception of the Roman Empire.” Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman Period 42, no. 2 (2011): 166–87. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24670928 [This article knocks on the head the view of some that the authors of the gospels could not be critical of the Roman empire for fear of their lives.]

———. “Reclaiming the Land (1 Maccabees 15:28–36): Hasmonean Discourse between Biblical Tradition and Seleucid Rhetoric.” Journal of Biblical Literature 133, no. 3 (2014): 539–59. https://doi.org/10.15699/jbibllite.133.3.539.

———. “‘The Rabbis Write Back!’ L’enjeu de La « parenté » Entre Israël et Rome-Ésaü-Édom.” Revue de l’histoire Des Religions 233, no. 2 (2016): 165–92. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24776754

I should also add that in my serendipitous browsing around for further information I did come across an article by Daniel Schwartz that disagrees with those scholars who have interpreted the Temple as a metaphor for the community in the Damascus Document.

 


Charbonnel, Nanine. Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier. Paris: Berg International éditeurs, 2017.



2021-03-04

Need Help — to translate a German passage

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by Neil Godfrey

If you took an interest in my previous post on the John the Baptist passage in Josephus’s Antiquities and know German reasonably well, are you able to translate the passage below for me, please? No Google or machine translations, please — I have those easily enough. What I am looking for is a confident rendering of the tone and accurate nuances of meaning of the passage.

The original can be found in note 24 at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=KMTIX-nJwusC&hl=en&pg=GBS.PA364

Die Echtheit der Josephusstelle ist nur selten angefochten worden (auch Volkmar setzt sie ohne weiteres voraus ; gegen dieselbe : J . Chr . K . v . Hofmann , Die heil . Schrift Neuen Testaments , VII . Thl . 3 . Abth . Der Brief Jakobi 1876 , S . 4 f . ) Zu ihren Gunsten spricht allerdings, dass die Motive für die Gefangensetzung und Hinrichtung des Täuters so ganz anders angegeben werden als in den Evangelien. Da aber Josephus an anderen Stellen sicher von christlicher Hand interpolirt worden ist, so darf man auch hier nicht allzusehr auf die Echtheit vertrauen. Bedenken erweckt namentlich das günstige Urtheil über Johannes, der doch nur nach gewissen Seiten hin dem Josephus sympathisch sein konnte, nämlich als Asket und Moralprediger, aber nicht als der das Volk mächtig aufregende Prophet des kommenden Messias.

My reason for seeking such a translation is to compare it with the following passage that appears in a substantially revised version of the work. (Obviously the opening sentences are quite different but it is the tone and nuance of the remainder that interests me.)

The passage of Josephus was known to Origen (c. Cels. I, 47). Eusebius quotes it in full (HE i 11, 4-6; DE ix 5, 15). Its genuineness is rarely disputed. In its favour is the fact that the motives for the imprisonment and execution of the Baptist are entirely different from the Gospel version. But since the text of Josephus has certainly been retouched by Christian scribes in other passages, the theory of an interpolation cannot be absolutely excluded. Suspicion is aroused by the favourable verdict on John, but against this it should be borne in mind that as an ascetic and moral preacher, he might have been viewed sympathetically by Josephus.

I had expected to continue another section of Rivka Nir’s chapter today but I got sidetracked trying to track down several German references in one of her footnotes. Once I have key passages from those collated I’ll post them here with comment.

If you don’t want to post a translation publicly in the comments feel free to email me one: neilgodfrey1 [at]  gmail.com

Many thanks.

 


2021-02-25

Silicon Valley’s Brave New World — and Chinese Communism may be its Beacon

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by Neil Godfrey

We begin with an interesting observation of Rana Foroohar, author of Don’t Be Evil: How Big Tech Betrayed Its Founding Principles – and All of Us . . . After outlining how Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, arrived at their PageRank system that became the core feature of Google, Foroohar casts light on the engineers creating this new wonder:

Now their bots could roam with impunity all over cyberspace, tagging, tallying—and potentially trespassing over the copyrights of anyone and everyone who had created the content they were linking to in the process, something that Google would eventually do at industrial scale when it purchased YouTube years later.

All perfectly innocent, right? And all for the greater good, naturally.

To Page and Brin, there was nothing nefarious about this. They simply sought to capture the knowledge tucked away in computer archives across the country to benefit humanity. If it benefited them, too, so much the better. It was the first instance of what later might be classified as lawful theft. If anyone complained, Page expressed mystification. Why would anyone be bothered by an activity of theirs that was so obviously benign? They didn’t see the need to ask permission; they’d just do it. “Larry and Sergey believe that if you try to get everyone on board it will prevent things from happening,” said Terry Winograd, a professor of computer science at Stanford and Page’s former thesis adviser, in an article in 2008. “If you just do it, others will come around to realize they were attached to old ways that were not as good….No one has proven them wrong—yet.”

In earlier pages, Foroohar opened the door to the educational and cultural background (from Montessori to Stanford) of Page and Brin that fostered this attitude.

This became the Google way. As Jonathan Taplin wrote in his book, Move Fast and Break Things, when Google released the first version of Gmail, Page refused to allow engineers to include a delete button “because Google’s ability to profile you by preserving your correspondence was more important than your ability to eliminate embarrassing parts of your past.” Likewise, customers were never asked if Google Street View cameras could take pictures of their front yards and match them to addresses in order to sell more ads. They adhered strictly to the maxim that says it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to beg for permission—though in truth they weren’t really doing either.

Oh, to have the freedom to create that only China can provide. . .

It’s an attitude of entitlement that still exists today, even after all the events of the past few years. In 2018, while attending a major economics conference, I was stuck in a cab with a Google data scientist, who expressed envy at the amount of surveillance that Chinese companies are allowed to conduct on citizens, and the vast amount of data it produces. She seemed genuinely outraged about the fact that the university where she was conducting AI research had apparently allowed her to put just a handful of data-recording sensors around campus to collect information that could then be used in her research. “And it took me five years to get them!” she told me, indignantly.

Like innocent children who believe they can create the brave new world . . .

Such incredulity is widespread among Valley denizens, who tend to believe that their priorities should override the privacy, civil liberties, and security of others. They simply can’t imagine that anyone would question their motives, given that they know best. Big Tech should be free to disrupt government, politics, civic society, and law, if those things should prove to be inconvenient. This is the logic held by the band of tech titans who would like to see the Valley secede not just from America, but from California itself, since, according to them, the other regions aren’t pulling their economic weight.

History and the humanities? Never bothered with them, but they do make a rich source of hyperlinks . . .

The kings (and handful of queens) of Silicon Valley see themselves as prophets of sorts, given that tech is, after all, the future. The problem is that creators of the future often feel they have little to learn from the past. As lauded venture capitalist Bill Janeway once put it to me, “Zuck and many of the rest [of the tech titans] have an amazing naïveté about context. They really believe that because they are inventing the new economy, they can’t really learn anything from the old one. The result is that you get these cultural and political frictions that are offsetting many of the benefits of the technology itself.”

Law? Ethics? We can’t code for those!

Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor and noted Big Tech critic whose book The Black Box Society is a must-read for those who want to understand the effects of technology on politics and the economy, provided a telling example of this attitude. “I once had a conversation with a Silicon Valley consultant about search neutrality [the idea that search engine titans should not be able to favor their own content], and he said, ‘We can’t code for that.’ I said this was a legal matter, not a technical one. But he just repeated, with a touch of condescension: ‘Yes, but we can’t code for it, so it can’t be done.’ ” The message was that the debate would be held on the technologist’s terms, or not at all.

Human things require real humans to work humanely. Google removed the “Don’t be evil” motto from the introduction to its code of conduct in 2018. Continue reading “Silicon Valley’s Brave New World — and Chinese Communism may be its Beacon”


2020-11-23

A Vridar Error with Apologies and Corrections

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by Neil Godfrey

In my previous post I confused the author of the argument I was addressing with a certain biblical scholar. I was wrong. I can only apologize and make edits in the previous post to remove any confusion. Better still, I will remove it entirely.

The understandably incensed objection to my goof-up….

What?? Hang on; I have no idea why you thought I was Sara Parks, but I’m not. As the side bio on my blog states, I’m a GP.

(That does explain your statement above about ‘the mainstream view within her field’. I was wondering why on earth you thought general practice had any sort of view on the historicity of Jesus.)

Ouch! I am sorry.


2020-09-24

Overthrowing the 2020 Election, US Safety and the World’s Future

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by Neil Godfrey

Over the past week I have been sifting through tweets, newsfeeds, video clips to collate the evidence that Trump has no intention of allowing the election of November 2020 to result in his removal from office. Yet in the last few days Trump has come out and publicly declared just that. There is no need to direct attention to the signposts that have marked the way over this past year since Trump has now made no secret that he will not accept anything other than his return to power. In his most recent statement he repeated his intention not to accept ballots — add to that his stacking of the courts and his demonstrated willingness to use the army to “dominate” U.S. cities.

The only question is, What is the legitimate and necessary response to his declared intention? It is not just a United States problem. The future of human civilization is threatened by the vanity of a single man and a party spellbound or intimidated by him. If one can blindly deny the world’s highest number of deaths from covid-19 in one’s own nation (or say those who are dying don’t matter because most of them are of little consequence to the national economy) then we are living in Fantasyland to expect a thought for future disasters within the US and beyond. From The Science Show:

Today we have evidence of three domino-like connections.

The first one is that rapidly melting sea ice in the Arctic is speeding up thawing of permafrost, which makes the jet stream meander, which in turn leads to more droughts and forest fires, which in turn causes even faster heating when the forests emit carbon dioxide.

The second domino is when melting of Greenland is slowing down the heat circulation in the North Atlantic, which in turn is reinforcing droughts in the Amazonian rainforest, drying out and resulting in fires and huge emissions of greenhouse gases when the forest irreversibly moves towards a savanna state.

The third domino risk is when ice sheets in the Arctic and Greenland show evidence of being connected via the oceans to Antarctica. When the Arctic melts, the exchange of heat in the ocean from the southern to the northern hemisphere will slow down, and this means that the ocean around Antarctica gets gradually warmer, which will result in huge glaciers being lubricated by hot surface waters and thereby gliding faster into the ocean with an ultimate risk of not just one- to two-metre sea level rise, but over ten metres.

. . . .

Thirty years ago, we could perhaps ignore the fact that the world’s major ecosystems, like the Amazon rainforest, like the temperate forests and the world’s peatlands, were global commons that we need to protect together. Earth was so biologically intact, and thereby resilient, and our carbon footprint was so limited that Earth could absorb national mismanagement without putting living conditions for all of us at risk. Not anymore.

Think about the following. We are at 1.1°C of global warming. We must not exceed 1.5°C and certainly not go above 2°C. We are on track to take us to 3° or 4°C of warming. If we are going to have any chance, global emissions must start to decline this year and then be cut by half by 2030, then cut by half again 2040, and then reach zero by 2050. This is what we call the carbon law; cut emissions by half every decade and you follow science.

But this will only work if the planet does not surprise us. That is, all ecosystems and all the ice sheets and all the storage of energy and conveyor belt heat in the oceans must remain intact. If we were to lose the Amazon rainforest, it could potentially add another 1°C of warming by itself. If we were to lose all of the Earth’s temperate peatlands, this could potentially lead to another 1°C warming. . . .

This is no time to be treating Trump as “just another candidate” or the election as “just another election” as has been happening throughout history. And it’s no time for other nations to be treating the United States as a “good global citizen”.

 


2020-06-07

The Hebrew Bible Composed in the Hellenistic Era: Dr. Robert M. Price & Russell Gmirkin – MythVision Podcast

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by Neil Godfrey

Vridar posts on Russell Gmirkin’s books discussed in the podcast:

.


2020-04-16

Trump is Merely the Distraction

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by Neil Godfrey

A little rant:

No-one with “every single thing that could be wrong with a human being” could just walk in and become President of the United States without a little help from somewhere. So here we are, people going crazy with frustration as Trump does and says more and more wrong things. The “wrong things” are why his base loves him, of course. It’s a serious situation.

The real fault surely, as we all must know, is that

a. the Republicans know that supporting Trump is their only chance of protecting the economic and class interests of those they represent;

b. the establishment Democrats represent the other wing of the same economic and class elites as demonstrated by their nominations for Hilary Clinton and now Joe Biden to represent them.

The Coronavirus represents another opportunity for the corporations to entrench their power and wealth at the expense of the rest of the nation. As long as everyone is focused on the idiot showman and all of his nonsense they can get away with it largely unnoticed.

Meanwhile, the showman has accelerated a total breakdown in any ability of his supporters and opponents to actually talk and debate with each other. All criticism has been branded “fake news” of persons with some sort of mental syndrome. If one side attempts to focus on the facts of a record of behaviour the other side focuses on a selection of words and facts that portray an “alternative reality”. There is no common ground in the “conversation”.

A showman and an audience divided into two competing “realities”.

Meanwhile, untouched, the real powers who benefit from this whole scenario.

Elections are bought. The debates focus on the criminal clown and people rage within the echo chambers of different “realities”. Even if one reality is indeed “the” reality, the focus is still on the showman.

Somehow the focus needs to be redirected against those who buy the elections, that is against those who are benefiting from the political system that represents the corporate capitalist elites, against those politicians who are benefiting from all the attention, both supportive and critical, being on Trump.

The corporate capitalist system makes a mockery of what is called a “democracy” and is driving us all to any number of disasters.

End of my little rant.


2020-03-17

Lost in Translation

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by Neil Godfrey

I have been attempting to locate a copy of a French language book at a reasonable cost and after some machine or app communication I attempted a “direct” approach, contacting one book seller in France directly (I am in Australia). I ran my subject header through Google Translate first:

Request for ‘title of the book’

and it came out

Demande de ‘titre de livre’ . . .

I baulked at the idea of “demanding” a title from a bookseller but finally decided that the French “demande” did not sound quite as “demanding” as it did in English, so I sent it anyway.

I then received a courteous reply:

Nous sommes désolés mais nous n’avons pas ces ouvrages . . . .

Now that made me feel really bad. They are “desolated” at not being able to provide me with the title I want.

“Sorry” would have been fine. Even a simple “regret”. But “désolés“? Oh my god, the trauma I have sprung on the other side of this planet!

 


2020-02-27

If your comment gets lost

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by Neil Godfrey

Repeating this post:

Please accept our sincere apologies if any of your comments aren’t posted to the blog immediately. Recently, we have been weathering a spam tsunami, and our current settings may be triggering some false positives. As we work things out, you could experience delays.

If a significant amount of time goes by, and you still haven’t seen your comment appear, drop us a line via email or ping us on Facebook.

  • Neil: neilgodfrey1 [AT] gmail [DOT] com
  • Tim: widowfield [AT] gmail [DOT] com
  • https://www.facebook.com/vridar/

As always, thanks for reading Vridar. We always appreciate your input and your support.

 


2020-02-13

How Luke Reworked Mark’s Ending

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by Neil Godfrey

This post looks at the evidence for Luke having reworked Mark’s ending. (The Gospel of Mark appears to have originally ended with verse 8 with the women fleeing from the tomb in fear.) The next post will identify the evidence for Luke having simultaneously used and changed Matthew’s ending. One step at a time.

 

 

What about the famous Emmaus Road encounter in Luke? Recall how Jesus appeared, unrecognized, alongside two disciples on the road, was invited in but disappeared before their eyes as soon as he broke bread.

That brings us to that highlighted section in Mark 16:7 … Jesus is promised to go before his disciples on the way back to Galilee . . . . Continue reading “How Luke Reworked Mark’s Ending”