Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Star Hymn of Ignatius: Advent of Christ destroys death

Whilst we might be more familiar with gospel stories in Matthew and Luke, in his Epistle to the Ephesians 19, Ignatius of Antioch writes an imaginative and cosmic version of the seasonal message:-

And hidden from the Prince of this world were the virginity of Mary, her giving birth, and the death of the Lord--three loudly shouting mysteries accomplished in the stillness of God. How were they revealed to the aeons? 

A star shone forth in heaven, 
brighter than all stars, 
and its light was ineffable 
and its newness caused astonishment. 
All the other stars with the sun and moon 
gathered in chorus around the star, 
but its light was greater than all. 
And the result was the dissolution of all magic 
and the abolition of every bond of evil.
Ignorance was removed
and the old kingdom was destroyed
for God was revealed as human
for the newness of eternal life.

Hence what had been prepared for by God received its beginning
All things were disturbed because the abolition of death was being planned.

We see in the so-called star hymn three phases: the advent of the star and its effect followed by reactions to the star from other cosmic beings and finally the beneficial result of the star's presence. The ineffable brightness of the star provokes a chorus of all other celestial bodies which, when combined with the star, effects the destruction of all magic and evil. 

There is no single way to interpret the meaning of the birth of Jesus. We already have three versions in the gospels: John's focus on the incarnate Logos, Matthew's focus on the joy of foreign visitors to the house where Jesus was born, and Luke's on divine attention to the mothers of John and Jesus: Elizabeth and Mary. Whereas the focus of Matthew and Luke stories of Jesus' birth are more mundane, Ignatius' star hymn interprets cosmic implications of the incarnation: accomplished in the silence of God, the appearance and birth of Christ is both the beginning of the plan of salvation for humanity and a shake-up of the heavenly realms which results in the final end of death. 

While Ignatius might not see it this way, it's possible to see that since the birth of this child causes cosmic disturbances, Ignatius' focus on the silence of God serves to secure the safety of recently born vulnerable children and their mothers. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Commentaries on Matthew's Gospel

For those who would like suggestions for the upcoming lectionary gospel Matthew, here are some recommendations.

The commentary on Matthew by R.T. France (Eerdmans 2007) is superb. The Kindle edition is here. The RBL review by Leslie Robert Keylock is here and it concludes with this paragraph:


This commentary is a tour de force that culminates one man’s career. Only a person who has spent his life on Jesus research could produce such a magisterial commentary in four years. Not everyone will agree with all his interpretations, of course, but that is true of any commentary—or book, for that matter. I will not at this point detail my evaluations of those interpretations; I have throughout this lengthy review drawn attention to most of  France’s provocative interpretations so the reader will know how France handles matters 
that are most likely to arouse disagreement. But this commentary on Matthew’s Gospel 
will certainly take its place with the best commentaries on this  Gospel that have been 
written in our time, and every  Gospel scholar will want to have a copy in his or her library.





feminist companionUlrich Luz has worked on Matthew's Gospel for years. Here is a link to some of his Matthew publications especially the three-volume commentary in the Hermeneia series. The great contribution of Luz to Matthean scholarship is his interest in the history of the effects and interpretation of the text (German: Wirkungsgeschichte). No one does it better. 

In the Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries series, O.Wesley Allen has written the one on Matthew. The link has samples from this text including the Introduction and Chapter 1. 

Amy-Jill Levine analyzes Matthew in the Women's Bible Commentary  third edition and she edits A Feminist Companion to Matthew (Pilgrim Press 2001) wherein lie excellent essays by a variety of scholars. 

There is also a 2006 commentary on Matthew written by Stanley Hauerwas. Of the reviews, perhaps this one describes his approach best:

While most commentaries strive to connect contemporary readers to the first century, Hauerwas also gives heed to Matthew’s vast interpretive history, a noteworthy achievement. . . . Anyone wishing to become acquainted with theological exegesis should consider this volume. Hauerwas offers a fresh perspective on Matthew that is aberrantly insightful, colorful, compelling, and powerful. Well-written, fast-paced, and accessible to laity, Hauerwas delivers thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation between Matthew’s gospel and American culture that aims to do no more than ‘position the reader to be a follower of Jesus.’”Thomas SeatPrinceton Theological Review 




Monday, October 07, 2013

Professor Kate Cooper, talk and book discussion of Band Of Angels, Monday November 18th at GTS


Kate Cooper, professor at the University of Manchester, is the author of a new book on women in early Christianity: Band of Angels http://atlantic-books.co.uk/content/band-angels


And by Lucy Winckett, Rector of St James, Piccadilly: http://www.newstatesman.com/2013/08/right-hand-maids-christ

Kate, the author, says:
One of my motivations in writing the book was to put something into the hands of pastoral colleagues/educators that gets the question about early women away from 'ordination' and into a 'lived religion' territory that is more directly useful to the majority of women who are of course in the laity! It was difficult (but really interesting) to try to frame it that way without losing the scholarly gravitas. So I would love to have a chance to talk to women who are involved in, or preparing for, pastoral work!

She's coming to GTS (440 West 21st Street) on Monday Nov 18th. The event is in Seabury in the Close and 21st street rooms with a reception at 6pm and talk/conversation at 6.30pm: booksigning to follow.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How To Do Things With Fictions by Joshua Landy (OUP 2012)


"Let the reader understand!" Landy argues that reading literature like Jesus' parables in Mark's Gospel is not so much about gaining insight and moral improvement but to train the reader or listener. To be trained to this level, one much look beyond propositional content. The right reaction to parables is not interpretation but the production of figurative content.    
The Guardian review of Joshua Landy's splendid book by Stephen Abell says that: 
Landy is at his best as a close reader when he is examining Mark's gospel, or discussing "the cosmic magnitude" of Mallarmé's "ses purs ongles" sonnet.
The reading of Mark focuses on the Parable of the Sower (in which the metaphor of sowing seeds is used to explain why religious messages do not always flourish: some fall on fertile ground, some on rocky etc). Landy seeks to explain why Jesus actually admits – in a famously disputed passage – that he does not want to convert everybody who listens to him: "for those outside, everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven".
This is gripping stuff, for believer and atheist alike. Why would Jesus, of all people, not want sinners to be forgiven? Landy's answer is that the understanding of metaphorical language is essential to faith itself: if one cannot move from the visible to the symbolic, then one can never comprehend God. Jesus uses non-inclusive language because he only wants those with the capacity for genuine belief to follow him. As Landy triumphantly concludes: "the Sower is a meta-parable, a parable about parables, a parable that only indirectly concerns the kingdom of God, being focused, rather, on the ability to handle figurative language".
When we read the parable, then, it is the very experience of reading that is crucial. That is why it is used to support Landy's theory about the self-consciousness of fiction. Elsewhere, we are readily convinced that Chaucer is parodying didacticism in "The Nun's Priest's Tale" and Plato is undermining Socrates by giving him weak arguments so that the reader will learn about the perils of flawed thinking. The quondam impenetrable poetry of Mallarmé is characterised wonderfully as "training in the two skills that make life bearable: generating fictions, and persuading ourselves that they are true".

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Heavenly Rest: Scripture Studies-- Wednesday September 18th from 7-8pm

This coming Wednesday I will be beginning a course in Scripture Studies and the reception history of the Bible. Anyone in and around NYC is welcome. Come one, come all!

Amongst other things, we'll be reading NT texts, listening to music connected to biblical texts and discussing art connected to Christian themes and biblical texts. We'll be looking at the Anastasis panel from Chora Church in Istanbul (Kariye MüzesiKariye Camii, or Kariye Kilisesi — the Chora Museum, Mosque or Church

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sophia, the Logos of God fresco in S. Stefano, Soleto, Italy

Over twenty years ago, I went on my first sabbatical to Apulia (Italian: Puglia) in Italy to look at late Byzantine frescoes. True, it is not what you might expect from an NT scholar but I was in search of images of Jesus as Sophia in Byzantine tradition. Some exist in abandoned churches, others do not. I presented the results of my research on a specific fresco with the Greek inscription "Sophia, the Logos of God" to a Byzantine Studies conference once I was back in the NE, only to be told that what I had shown was "an anomaly in Byzantine thought." End of discussion? Until now.

Here's a wonderful new 360 degree view of the XIV Century frescoes of that church in Soleto. In the  Apse of the east end is the image of Sophia with the Greek inscription above. A specific study of that church has been published (2010). All being well, I will be able to publish a discussion of the frescoes and this particular image within a year or so. I am arguing that ignoring such frescoes or relegating them to a category of "late Byzantine" or even "non-Byzantine" creates unhelpful categories of what is normative (art and architecture in Constantinople?). Byzantine art in Salento is a transformation of Greco-Roman and Byzantine art with regional features. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

R.S. Thomas + Evensong 12.00-5.00pm September 21st At All Saints Princeton,NJ


“ANGLICAN WORDS AND MUSIC:
CELEBRATING R. S. THOMAS (1913-2000), PRIEST AND POET”

Picture

All Saints' South Room
12 noon           Light Lunch

12:30 - 1:45     
Gordon Graham: 'The Anglican Tradition of Poetry', and overview with readings from the great Anglican poets, and
                        recordings of R. S. Thomas reading his poems

1:45 - 2:30       Conversations on poetry, facitiltated by Elly Sparks Brown  

2:30 - 2:45       Coffee break

2:45 - 3:45       John McEllhenny: 'R. S. Thomas as I knew him'

3:30 - 4:15       Jane Brady: Reflection on Thomas and his poetry

   
All Saints' Sanctuary

4:30 - 5:30         Choral Evensong, All Saints Choir, Director Tom Colao
                                 Introit
                                 Versicles and Responses
                                 Psalm
                                 Canticles
                                 Anthem: 
Paul Mealor  'Anthem for St. David of Wales' (World premier)
                                 Homily

5:30                   Wine reception


PARTICIPANTS

Jane T. Brady        
Jane T. Brady’s encounter with the writing of R.S. Thomas began during a month at Gladstone’s Library in Wales (Great Britain’s only prime ministerial library). In subsequent trips, she has visited three of the churches where R.S. Thomas served and engaged in conversations with people who knew him. Brady is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A. in history) and Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div. & Th.M.). Since 2007, she has served as Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Pemberton NJ. Her prior career with the NJ Audubon Society has given her insight into R.S. Thomas’s love of birds and sense of place. 

Elly Sparks Brown
Elly Sparks Brown is the former rector of historic  Trinity Parish in Southern Maryland, the Diocese of Washington, D.C.  She has also taught in the Literature Department of The American  University in D.C. and the honors program at The University of Maryland, College Park, MD. Elly holds a M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary,  Alexandra, VA, a M.A. in English from The Catholic University of  America, D.C., and a B.A. in English from Seton Hill University,  Greensburg, PA., and earned an interdisciplinary Doctor of Ministry degree in theology, literature and visual art at Wesley Theological Seminary in  D.C in 1991.  She later served the Seminary for three years under a Luce grant  as Administrative Director of the Center for the Arts and Religion. She  is passionately interested in the relationship between the arts and  spirituality. Currently Vicar of Christ Church in Palmyra, NJ and visiting Professor of English at Rider University, she also leads adult forums, retreats and quiet days around the arts and spirituality .
Tom ColaoTom Colao has been Director of Music at All Saints' Episcopal Church Princeton since in 2010. He attended the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan, studying voice and choral conducting, before transferring to Westminster Choir College to pursue studies in organ and sacred music. While at Westminster, he sang as a member of Westminster Choir in addition to performances with the Choir as both a tenor and organ soloist. Prior to coming to All Saints’, Tom was Director of Music and Organist at St. James’ Church, Long Branch, NJ, where he conducted a professional choir and provided organ accompaniment for choral services on the church’s vintage three-manual pipe organ, and initiated the “Music at St. James” concert series. He maintains an active schedule as an accompanist, vocal coach, freelance conductor and recitalist, and has composed several liturgical and concert works for choir.
Gordon GrahamGordon Graham is Henry Luce II Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary and an Anglican Priest. He has published extensively on the subject of religion and the arts, and his books include Philosophy of the Arts (Routledge, third edition 2005) and The Re-enchantment of the World: art versus religion (Oxford UP 2007, pb 2010). He has published plays and anthems on Christian themes, and is a regular columnist the Episcopal Journal.
John McElhennnyJohn G. McEllhenney is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College and the Theological School of Drew University, and has an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Albright College. A United Methodist pastor, he started to read the poetry of R. S. Thomas in the early 1970s. A decade later, he began gathering first and limited editions of Thomas’s works, along with periodicals containing his poems and secondary sources. McEllhenney’s Thomas collection is now part of the Special Collections of Drew University’s Library;an online catalog is accessible. McEllhenney visited Thomas in Wales in 1992, 1993, and 1994, and corresponded with him from 1991 until Thomas died, in 2000. He drew upon those personal contacts and his study of Thomas’s poems to write A Masterwork of Doubting-Belief: R. S. Thomas and His Poetry, which was published by Wipf & Stock in February 2013.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

STEP, a new free Bible Study Resource (beta version)


Tyndale House Cambridge Launches Beta-version of Scripture Tools for Every Person (STEP), a new free Bible study resource.
24 July  2013, CAMBRIDGE, UK
Today the STEP development team of Tyndale House Cambridge launched the Beta-test version of a new free Bible study resource at www.StepBible.org.
STEP software is designed especially for teachers and preachers who don’t have access to resources such as Tyndale House Library, which specialises in the biblical text, interpretation, languages and biblical historical background and is a leading research institution for Biblical Studies.
The web-based program, which will soon also be downloadable for PCs and Macs, will aid users who lack resources, or who have to rely only on smartphones or outmoded computers.
About STEP
The project began when STEP director Dr David Instone-Brewer created the Tyndale Toolbarfor his own use. It became popular among researchers at Tyndale House and is now used by thousands of people across the globe. The Beta launch of STEP invites users to try out the new tools and give suggestions for improvement.
"STEP represents the most comprehensive yet user friendly tool for Bible Study I have seen in over 35 years of research," said Dr Wesley B. Rose. Tim Bulkeley, a contributor to the project, said "I wish I was just starting to teach in Kinshasa now, with STEP and a smart phone. Students would find learning Hebrew and Greek, to read the Bible directly, so much easier."
Almost a hundred volunteers worldwide have contributed to this work, including 75 who helped to align the ESV, used with the kind permission of Crossway, with the underlying Greek and Hebrew. All their work will now be freely available for other software projects. There are many exciting features in the pipeline for others to get involved with.
Try it out at www.StepBible.org.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to be in the presence of Jesus

is the title of a piece I wrote for Daily Episcopalian published today. It was a sermon preached at Trinity Episcopal Church, Castine, Maine this past Sunday July 21st, 2013. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Margalit Fox on Alice Kober and the decipherment of Linear B

In The Riddle of the Labyrinth by Margalit Fox (Ecco, 2013), the work of Alice Kober in deciphering Linear B is described. Margalit Fox is a senior staff writer for the NY Times. Her book is summarized here in the Daily Telegraph. Matti Friedman in the NY Times reviewed the book recently here and part of the review states:


Ms. Fox makes a case for Kober, the “unprepossessing” daughter of Hungarian immigrants, as the story’s hero. Her thick glasses, unstylish hair and prim mouth belied the “snap and rigor of her mind, the ferocity of her determination, and the unimpeachable rationality of her method,” Ms. Fox writes. Kober dedicated her life to solving the riddle, laboring at her dining table in Brooklyn, “ever-present cigarette at hand.” She never married, and her extensive correspondence, we learn, contains a total of two mentions of a social life.
There was hardly time. To aid her quest, she learned Chinese, Akkadian, Persian, Hittite and Basque, among other tongues, and eventually prepared no fewer than 180,000 index cards as she struggled to develop a system that would allow her to crack what Ms. Fox calls a “locked-room mystery” — deciphering an unknown script that an unknown society used to write an unknown language. A Linear B scholar was operating in a “linguistic terra incognita with neither map nor compass at hand.” Without a guide like the Rosetta stone (the multilingual inscription that finally allowed scholars to decode Egyptian hieroglyphs) the task was thought to be all but impossible.
That it turned out not to be is a testament to what the human brain, or at least the rare human brain, is capable of. In explaining the problem and eventual solution, Ms. Fox makes the complexities of linguistic scholarship accessible...
Margalit Fox describes her book as a six year project here. She maintains that Kober's work was "all but lost" and that her book is an antidote to "British male triumphalism." However, Fox's book is also reviewed by Jonathan Lopez in the WSJ on May 16th more critically: 
Unfortunately, Ms. Fox's claims about the neglect of Kober's legacy are exaggerated to the point of being misleading. "The Story of Archaeological Decipherment" (1975), by the British classicist Maurice Pope, is an authoritative survey of hieroglyphics, cuneiform and other ancient scripts decoded by modern researchers. Chapter Nine is devoted to the Knossos tablets and is titled "Kober, Ventris and Linear B"—amply demonstrating that Kober is neither unknown nor unsung in the standard histories. The very first (and still the best) book on the subject, "The Decipherment of Linear B" (1958), by Michael Ventris's friend and collaborator, the Cambridge University classics professor John Chadwick—Ventris himself died in an auto accident in 1956—clearly states that "Kober would have taken a leading part in the events of later years, had she been spared; she alone of the earlier investigators was pursuing the track which led Ventris ultimately to the solution of the problem."
You decide.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pompeii in peril

The BBC reports on the perilous state of Pompeii, a World Heritage site, including recent collapses at the House of the Gladiators due to heavy rain. 

Same-sex desire & gender identity at the British Museum

Under "topics to explore" is "Same-Sex desire & gender identity" on the British Museum website. If you are around, there's a lecture on June 28th:


Lecture
A little gay history

Friday 28 June,
18.30–19.30
Stevenson Lecture Theatre
Tickets £5
Members/Concessions £3
Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

Recommend this event

Richard Parkinson, British Museum, discusses a recently published British Museum project on the history of same-sex desire.
The talk will explore issues raised by objects in the collection, ranging from ancient Egyptian papyri to modern gay love scenes filmed in the Museum, to ask a question that concerns us all: how easily can we recognise love in history?
In collaboration with Write Queer London.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Judith Bingham's Hymn to St Paul

is on Choral Evensong from St Paul's Cathedral on BBC Radio 3 for 7 days. Here's more information about the composer Judith Bingham and from the BBC

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"The Boxer at Rest" on view at the Met June 1-July 15th

One of the great masterpieces of Hellenistic sculpture is making a brief visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Made sometime between the late fourth and the second century B.C., this life-size bronze depicts a battered and weary athlete resting after a fight. The work is astonishing both for the gripping realism of the anatomy and the touching pathos of the expression.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Zenobia, Empress of Palmyra



Discussion on the BBC Radio programme In Our Time on Zenobia, (240 – c. 275 GreekΖηνοβία Aramaicבת זבי Bat-Zabbai Arabicالزباء al-Zabbā’intellectual military leader of Palmyra b. 240 CE who became Empress of the Palmyrene Empire in the Middle East which she extended to Ankara in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), Egypt, the Holy Land to the Euphrates. Palmyra appears in the Bible as Tadmore (2 Chron 8:4; 1 Kings 9:17), fortified by Solomon. 

With Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King's College, London; Kate Cooper, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester and Richard Stoneman, Visiting Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Exeter. 

Prof Kate Cooper has some fascinating reflections after the programme: 

One of the most fascinating questions about Zenobia is what she thought she was doing.  Was the establishment of her empire intended as a revolt against Rome, as many believe? Or was she simply, like so many after her, trying to bring peace to the Middle East?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Roman Weapons and Armour in Water as a Religious Ritual

Classical accounts, the presence of specific water deities, and the archaeology of Celtic groups in Britain and Gaul suggest that soldiers stationed in the western Roman provinces witnessed and eventually adopted a strong religious tradition of water veneration, whereby individuals dedicated valuable military gear in water. Unlike the Celtic material, Roman helmets far exceed swords, and the highest concentration of Roman gear is found along the Rhine River, the frontier between Rome and Germany.

The hybrid Romano-Celtic deities and the similar practices in the deposition of arms and armor in water paints an interesting picture of Roman and Celtic religion and interaction from the first century B.C.E. to first century C.E. The religious practices of the Roman army did not take over and replace native Celtic forms nor did Celtic religion remain the same. The Roman practice of offering military gear in water was a result of Celtic interaction. The purpose and belief systems behind such a tradition varied across time and space. Celtic culture saw water as a life force, key to wellbeing and fertility. It is impossible to determine if Roman soldiers who dedicated their gear perceived water or their newly adopted ritual in the same way. Although generally, in practice, the Roman and Celtic traditions concerning water appears similar, different cultural and ideological backgrounds gave the ritual a distinctively different meaning.     

2011 Brandon Olsen article, Anthrojournal


Sunday, May 12, 2013

A great discussion on the reception history of John 20

Recently, I sailed into a lecture room to do an Adult Education forum in a nearby church on the reception history of John 20 as "Ban and Blessing" continuing their theme of resurrection in the post-Easter season leading up to Pentecost. All the chairs were set up in front of a screen. In the centre of the room stood the LCD projector on a podium with all the connecting cables out and ready for my lap top. They had a Thunderbolt connector which connected to a Thunderbolt port on my MacBook Air. And we had sound through the sound cable connected to two loudspeakers. When the associate priest arrived, I was ready to demonstrate images and sound for the presentation. She introduced me to the IT guy whom I thanked profusely.

This is the way life should be.

I gave an overview of the presentation. How is it, I asked, that in the reception history of John 20, two contrasting strands of ban and blessing emerge: "Do not touch me!" and an encounter with Jesus in the garden?

We begin with a discussion of the composition and motifs of Titian's Noli Me Tangere: Imagine you had never seen this painting before, I suggest, what do you notice? We discuss colors and lines, the tree and the path to the village. We notice the half naked man with an implement in his left hand and the clothed woman reaching towards him. We try to determine if he has any scars from the nails on the cross (the image is small).

Then we go back in time to the Biblia Pauperum of the Middle Ages and discuss this image below with three panels. We discuss typology and prefiguring.






We notice cruciform halos (nimbus) around the head of Christ. And we notice a halo around the head of the woman in the centre panel but not around the head of the woman in the right panel.

We discuss landscapes and buildings, walled gardens, lanterns and jars, gardening implements and facial expressions. And the inscription recording the woman's speech in the right panel: I have found him whom my soul loves; I will hold him and I will not let him go.

Then we discuss the Song of Songs and the use of motifs around searching and finding the beloved in the garden to expand the scene of Jesus and Mary encountering each other in the garden. I play a motet, "Maria Magdalene stabat ad monumentum flores" and we discuss musical interpretations of John 20.

Finally we return to Titian and discuss how this single painting could be seen as blessing and ban at the same time.

This is indeed the way life can be at an adult education forum with good discussions and great energy. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The relative novelty of the term "man" by Aysa Peraltsvaig


First consider its history merely within English over the past millennium and a half. Today, it is pronounced /mæn/ and means one of two things: either ‘an adult male person’ or ‘a person of either gender’. The latter meaning, however, is considered sexist by many, and is thus falling out of use. Words such as chairmanfisherman, and policeman are thus being replaced by such gender-neutral forms as chairpersonfisher, and police officer, just as mankind is yielding to humankind. But as the gender-neutral meaning of man is still evident in manslaughter and in the phrase no man’s land. As it turns out, the meaning of ‘an adult male’ is relatively new. In Old English (roughly, prior to the Norman invasion of 1066), this word—pronounced then with a vowel articulated further back in the mouth—did not mean a ‘male person’ but had only the gender-neutral sense of ‘a human being, person (male or female)’. The word acquired the sense of ‘adult male’ in Middle English. Prior to that time, an adult male was a wer, as distinguished from a wif, which then meant ‘woman (of any marital status)’, as it still does in idiomatic expressions like old wives’ tale and in the compound midwife, originally meaning ‘with woman (during labor)’. The word wer began to disappear in the late 13the century and was eventually replaced byman, which retained its old, more general meaning as it acquired the new, gender-specific one. (The term wer did survive, however, in such terms as “werewolf,” which make one wonder whether a female lycanthrope should be referred to as “wifwolf”.) Note also that the Old English man had additional meanings besides ‘person’, including ‘servant, vassal’, as in all the king’s horses and all the king’s men (we retain this meaning to this day). Thus, clearly the meanings of even “ultraconserved words” show considerable change over much shorter periods than 15,000 years.
Pronunciations of such core terms change too, as I indicated above with the shift in vowel articulation in man through the history of English. Within the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family, the reflexes of the reconstructed ancestral Proto-Germanic form *manwaz include Old Norse maðr, Danish mand, Gothic manna. In other Indo-European branches we find Sanskrit (Indic) manuh, Avestan (Iranian) manu-, Old Church Slavonic (Slavic) mozi. The latter is related to the Russian form muzh, found in the Russian version of the odd “Stone Age” passage above. This plethora of phonological forms in related languages is a result of sound changes, different in each family.


Source: http://geocurrents.info/cultural-geography/linguistic-geography/do-ultraconserved-words-reveal-linguistic-macro-families#ixzz2SuSX3u3Q


Now I am on a search to find Old English Bible translations!

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