Friday, April 19, 2013

Gaelic Grammar terms in Gaelic

It bothers me that I can't find a treatment of Gaelic grammar in Gaelic itself. So I've put together at least a little list of grammar-terms in Gaelic. At least half of this was dictionary-work, and I'm not sure on the details and nuances, but at least it's a start. So, if you're looking to talk about grammar in Gaelic, here's a starting point.

Gaelic Grammar Terms

There does appear to be a Gaelic Grammar: Facal air an Fhacal by Michel Byrne, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere any longer.
There is also a list here of Grammar terms, which I had forgotten about.

Edit 2:
There *is* a long out of print Gaelic language Grammar, with parallel English. It's The principles of Gaelic Grammar, by John Forbes, 1848. Some of the terminology and spelling is outdated, but short of a re-release of Facal air an Fhacal it's probably the best you'll get.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Psalm 3

Some short thoughts on the 3rd psalm...

If Psalm 1 offers us the picture of the Righteous Man (in a wisdom tradition), and Psalm 2 of the Royal Man (in a nascent Messianic tradition), Psalm 3 combines the two introductory psalms into a picture of the Righteous Royal Man. From here on in the main ‘voice’ of the Psalmist is that of the king himself, even where explicit identification may be lacking. It’s not lacking in Psalm 3, with the psalm situated in relation to David’s flight from Absalom. But the psalm itself gives no hint of that particular setting. Nonetheless, it fits more than well enough, comprising an initial lament (v1-2), with a corresponding declaration of trust (3-8) with plea (v7). Verse 5 gives us a temporal marker (morning) that complements psalm 4’s evening, and offers us another matched-pair in the entry to the Psalter overall.

Insofar as the Psalm is paradigmatic, it begins with the figure of persecution, of both hostility from foes, and declaration of defeat by hostiles (whether enemies or ‘bystanders’). This is in contrast to the salvation that is in the Lord himself (v3). The psalm both declares the Lord’s salvation, and prays for it (cf. vv3,5,8 with v7).

Looking forward to the New Testament, we are reminded that Christ came to those that were his own (John 1:11), who did not receive him, indeed he was killed by those he created, a betrayal far deeper and wider than the vicious treason of Absalom to his Father. Also of the mocking in Matthew 27:42, “He saved others; he cannot save himself”. Jesus knew with absolute certainty the Lord’s salvation, but found himself in the midst of many enemies, and crying out for that very vindication.

This psalm, as a Christian psalm, is deeply dislocative – it situates us in at least three places. Firstly, that, because he died while we were enemies, we are the many enemies! Secondly, we are called to identify in and with Christ, in his mockery and suffering. Finally, to know that whatever suffering and opposition we now face is linked to that suffering then, and so is transformed by the knowledge that indeed, the Lord will arise and bring his salvation.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ørberg's Lingua Latina in Greek

This is a long-held desideratum by anyone who has had the fortune to read, study, teach Ørberg's Lingua Latina, Pars I Familia Romana & II Roma Aeterna, and has also had any interest in the direct teaching of ancient Greek. Some time ago I embarked on a straight translation of LL chapter 1 into Greek, and it's floating around the web.

Now I find myself teaching some Greek, and have returned to the project of translating the course. I've just today finished translating and adapting chapter 2. In one sense doing a straight translation is very 'easy', much easier than composing a comparable course from scratch. On the other hand it is fraught with difficulties, with differing grammar even in the first 2 chapters, not least the problem of nouns, and declensions, for very basic words.

My hope is that I might secure some copyright permissions to produce the translation and make it public. Given that the main interest in such a text is its pedagogical value rather than the intrinsic storyline, and I have no plan for financial gain, I am hopeful I might secure such permissions, so that the work will be freely available for others to utilise (with all the faults I am making!).

Update (4/17): Almost finished on chapter 3.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Exegetical notes on Galatians 5:13-26


13 Ὑμεῖς γὰρ ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε, ἀδελφοί· μόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί, ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις. 14 γὰρ πᾶς νόμος ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ πεπλήρωται, ἐν τῷ· ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν. 15 εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε, βλέπετε μὴ ὑπʼ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε. 16 Λέγω δέ, πνεύματι περιπατεῖτε καὶ ἐπιθυμίαν σαρκὸς οὐ μὴ τελέσητε. 17 γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός, ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται, ἵνα μὴ ἐὰν θέλητε ταῦτα ποιῆτε. 18 εἰ δὲ πνεύματι ἄγεσθε, οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον. 19 φανερὰ δέ ἐστιν τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός, ἅτινά ἐστιν πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια, 20 εἰδωλολατρία, φαρμακεία, ἔχθραι, ἔρις, ζῆλος, θυμοί, ἐριθεῖαι, διχοστασίαι, αἱρέσεις, 21 φθόνοι, μέθαι, κῶμοι καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις, προλέγω ὑμῖν, καθὼς προεῖπον ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες βασιλείαν θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν. 22 δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἀγάπη χαρὰ εἰρήνη, μακροθυμία χρηστότης ἀγαθωσύνη, πίστις 23 πραΰτης ἐγκράτεια· κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος. 24 οἱ δὲ τοῦ Χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ] τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν σὺν τοῖς παθήμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις. 25 Εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι, πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν. 26 μὴ γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι, ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι, ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες.


13 For you have been called for freedom, brothers: only not freedom as a pretext for the flesh, but serving through love one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' 15 But if you bite and devour one another, see that you are not destroyed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by spirit and do not complete the lust of flesh. 17 For the flesh desires contrary to the spirit, but the spirit contrary to the flesh, for these are opposed to one another, so that the things you dont even will, these very things you do. 18 But if you are led by spirit, you are not under law. 19 As the works of the flesh are manifest, which are porneia uncleanness licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, passions, selfishnesses, dissensions, factions, 21 envies drunknesses, orgies, and the things like to these, 21 which I pronounced to you, just as I said earlier, that those doing these things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 For the fruit of the spirit is love joy peace, long-suffering kindness goodness, faith 23 humility self-control; against such things is no law. 24 But those of Christ [Jesus] crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 25 if we live by spirit, let us also conform to the spirit. 26 Do not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one


V13 Just as 5:1 indicates that we are liberated 'for freedom', v13 renews this idea with 'For you were called for freedom'. Paul having rebuked them in the first half of this chapter renews the call to gospel-shaped living which in Galatians is specifically shaped by freedom in the Gospel, from the Law, and in renewing that call here he goes on to ethical teaching that is grounded in the Christ's redemption of us from both sin and law.
This vocation to freedom is negatively categorised as not 'as a pretext for the flesh.' Here Paul draws us to the ready distinction between licence and liberty. It would be easy to mistake the freedom the gospel delivers us into as a freedom to indulge our flesh. Indeed the history of the church has seen many such heresies, and in our own lives we can be prone to such thinking. If grace has set me free, why not sin? Paul's point is that this is a misreading of 'liberty'. Liberty is always characterised both by freedom from and freedom to. Freedom in Christ is exactly freedom from sin, and its attendants, and freedom to worship, serve, love, rightly for the first time. To be 'free from sin' only to serve sin in the flesh, is not freedom at all, it is merely the pretext, the 'form' of freedom. Instead Paul tells us that the freedom is that 'you serve (slave) one another through love'. That Paul can readily employ douleuete, the verbal form corresponding to doulos, slave, in such close connection to his freedom language reveals how complex the thought about freedom here is. Freedom to be a slave! And yet willingly, 'freely', we choose to do this, and so our service is characterised, is conducted 'through love'. So absent is the idea of compulsion here from the concept of 'slaving'.

V14 Paul’s teaching here picks up and echoes Jesus’ own teaching on the two great commandments (Matthew 22:35-40), and we should not be surprised at this. In context Paul is linking his injunction to serve one another in love with the OT teaching of loving one’s neighbour. But Paul is doing more than this, he is giving this as a summary statement for the whole law.

This isn’t to be read as Paul overriding the other ‘great’ commandment, i.e. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind, and soul. Rather, as his focus here is on the community relations of believers, of their ‘one-another’ ethical comportment, so too he takes the aspect of what is not so much two commandments as a double-commandment and applies it here. In light of Paul’s earlier teaching on the Law, we see that there is indeed a positive and continuing place for the Law, but note carefully Paul’s choice of ‘is fulfilled’. Even the moral use of the law is fulfilled summarily in something like a teleological reading – this was the goal of the Law, to promote neighbour love.

V15 While this is both the call of freedom and the goal of the law, it is not the reality of relations among Galatian believers. While technically a first class conditional, leaving open ended whether the antecedent is true or not, the context of Paul’s writing seems to be that this at least is some kind of issue in the church. Instead of serving, there is ‘biting’ and ‘devouring’, graphic metaphors for a way of life that is parasitic and cannibalistic upon each other. Paul’s ‘see that’ functions imperatively, almost to ‘limit’ this behaviour, at the point of mutual destruction. Paul’s words function rather as a warning – this kind of internal community strife will rip the community asunder.

v16 in the mild contrast of “But I say”, Paul offers an alternative. Here is a way out from mutually-devastating community-destroying behaviour. The way out is to walk, i.e. conduct one’s life, in the sphere or realm of the spirit, instead of accomplishing and bringing to fulfilment the flesh’s lust. In this and the verses that follow, Paul outlines a spirit/flesh conflict, but it is not the same as that of Romans 2. In 17a it’s very clear that Spirit and Flesh are opposed to each other, but the construction of “the things you don’t even will [to do], these very things you do” is not a re-run (well, a pre-run given the dating of the letters) of Romans 7 – the ego that cannot do what is right. No, Galatians is more radical in a sense, in that the ego, the “I”, itself does nothing. The Spirit is at work in the sphere of the spirit, the Flesh is at work in the realm of the flesh. There is no independent self that is ‘you’. You never do what ‘you’ want, but what the sphere you’re in wants, either Spirit, or Flesh.

V18 However in keeping with Paul’s earlier arguments, being led by the Spirit precisely removes one from being ‘under’ the Law. Being in the Spirit is thus aligned with the freedom language. Those controlled by the flesh are still under Law, and so under condemnation. And here Paul begins to make explicit the typical acts of the flesh, in the list of v19-21. The list is notable particularly for how frequently relational and communal vices make an appearance – hostilities, strife, jealousy, selfishness, dissensions, factions, envies; these are all primarily relational sins. Even drunkenness, orgies, and the earlier sexual sins, can be considered under their relational dimensions.

And yet the list is not an imperatival list, not a “don’t do this, it’s bad” categorisation, but a descriptive indication, saying “this is what those who live in the sphere of the flesh act out”. The application is not “don’t do these things”, but more foundationally, “don’t live in the flesh”.

V21 I take the first verb in a spatial sense, “I pronounce before you”, but the second in a temporal sense, referring to Paul’s earlier teachings. The conclusion Paul brings is that living in the flesh ultimately excludes from the Kingdom. Why? It’s an evidence, a proof, that the work of salvation by grace was not actually at work, did not exist. Those liberated by Christ from the realm of flesh/law ough to see the Spirit at work spiritually for service through love to others. Where that is ultimately lacking, salvation will be absent.
In stark contrast to the vice list, Paul offers the ‘fruit’ list. Others have well noted that ‘fruit’ is singular here, Paul is not providing a pick-and-choose list. I want to draw attention to something else though – this is not a list of virtuous action, unlike the vice list. The list of the deeds of the flesh is contrasted with a list of qualities or attributes, not actions. We should also note the strong references to the first three terms - love, joy, peace – in John 14-17; again, echoes of Jesus’ own teaching. With respect to ‘self-control’, it was the aim of secular pagan philosophy, but one that is unattainable without the Spirit. Regarding ‘humility’ it is again noted that this was no virtue outside the Christian faith. Paul sums up his list with “against such things there is no law”, as if to say ‘you won’t violate the Law if you live out of the Spirit’; Spirit-living does not oppose the Law, but being liberated from the Law it actually fulfils the goal of the Law.

Vv24-26 round out this section, with Paul’s strong image in v24 of those who belong to Christ having crucified the flesh. Drawing upon the death of Christ himself, our flesh-nature has died with Christ there on the cross since that is the locus not only of our redemption, but of our radical change of living. Our flesh died there, with its passions and lusts, so that flesh is dead. Thus v25 contrasts the deadness of the flesh with life. Since we died in Christ on the cross, we do now live by the Spirit. And the corollary is that being made alive, having life, by the Spirit, ought to issue in a life lived in conformity to that very same Spirit. This is in every way opposite of the vainglorious, relationally destructive way of life characterised by the flesh and being enacted in the Galatian community.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Exegetical Notes on Galatians 5:2-12


2 Ἴδε ἐγὼ Παῦλος λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε, Χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει. 3 μαρτύρομαι δὲ πάλιν παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ περιτεμνομένῳ ὅτι ὀφειλέτης ἐστὶν ὅλον τὸν νόμον ποιῆσαι. 4 κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ, οἵτινες ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε, τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε. 5 ἡμεῖς γὰρ πνεύματι ἐκ πίστεως ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης ἀπεκδεχόμεθα. 6 ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ οὔτε περιτομή τι ἰσχύει οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ πίστις διʼ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη.
7 Ἐτρέχετε καλῶς· τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψεν [τῇ] ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι; 8 πεισμονὴ οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς. 9 μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ. 10 ἐγὼ πέποιθα εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν κυρίῳ ὅτι οὐδὲν ἄλλο φρονήσετε· δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς βαστάσει τὸ κρίμα, ὅστις ἐὰν . 11 Ἐγὼ δέ, ἀδελφοί, εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω, τί ἔτι διώκομαι; ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ. 12 Ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς.


2 Look – I Paul say to you that if you were to be circumcised, Christ will benefit you nothing, 3 I testify again to every circumcised man that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you whoever are justified by law, you have fallen from grace. 5 For we by Spirit – by faith – expectantly await the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything nor uncircumcision but faith working operating through love.
7 You were running well; who cut in on you that you not obey the truth? 8 The persuasion is not of the one calling you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole batch-of-dough. 10 I am persuaded for you in the Lord that you will think nothing otherwise; but the one disturbing you will bear the punishment, whoever it is. 11 But I, brothers, if I yet preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the offence of the cross would be annulled. 12 I wish even that those troubling you would be cut off.


A sharp break with the preceding section is not present, but Paul does shift language, and the slavery/freedom discourse falls away as he moves to more direct engagement. The commencement of verse 2, “Look – I Paul say to you” disrupts the flow of reading and re-engages the reader and personalises the following statement. Paul is again addressing these Galatian believers, and begins to lay out the consequences if they were to follow the teachings of the Judaisers. Verse 2 states this in the strongest terms, “Christ will benefit you nothing”. The solemnity of this statement is reinforced by a repetition and expansion in v3, with Paul’s “I testify” strengthening the gravity of the statement. The phrase “every circumcised man” here is probably best understood as referring to those currently uncircumcised Gentile-background believers who are considering circumcision. Circumcision in those circumstances is an entrance ritual, the beginning of a whole life as a member of the Mosaic covenant, and so a whole life of legal observance. For those who were circumcised, i.e. Jewish-background believers like Paul, the dynamic is different – they were under Law, but now have been set free by Christ. For those who were never circumcised, in this situation circumcision is a mark that they are going from freedom in Christ to slavery under Law, and so they will become debtors, obligated, to complete the whole Law, just as the Jewish believers had been.

There is a mini-chiasm in v4, with the subjects nested in the middle clause, “you whoever are justified by law”. Paul has already established the impossibility of justification by law, and so the phrase should be understood here as “those currently trying to be justified by law”. These people, Paul says, are “severed from Christ” and “have fallen from grace”. It is a total rejection of the Gospel to re-embrace the Law, and Paul vividly paints the implications in terms of being cut-off or separated from Christ (a relational-union aspect), and falling from grace.

In v5 Paul shifts from “you” to “we”, aligning himself and those readers who either hold his position or are persuaded by it, over against those seeking circumcision and Law-observance. The double ‘by’ prepositions are hard to adequately translate into English, shifting from a plain dative πνεύματι to the prepositional ἐκ πίστεως. The former might better be rendered ‘in the Spirit’, but the meaning is substantially the same. Both modify the experiential reality of waiting. The waiting has as its object ‘hope’, but all waiting could be said to have a certain ‘hope’ as its object. ‘Righteousness’ is the substantive object of the hope, i.e. they are awaiting righteousness. This certainly holds a future/judgment orientation, as is also possible implied back in v2 with its future “will avail”.

Finally v6 concludes a statement of who the Galatians are, giving the reason for the expectant waiting that occurs ‘by faith’. At first glance it seems paradoxical that Paul can relativise circumcision and uncircumcision, saying that neither makes a difference, when he has spent so much time arguing against circumcision. But it is the very context of circumcision that makes the meaning. For the Judaisers, circumcision is the beginning of life as a member of the Mosaic covenant, and Galatian believers undergoing circumcision enter into a re-Judaised pattern of life. But the very status of physical circumcision itself matters nothing in Christ. Nor does, to extend it, one’s prior status of being circumcised or uncircumcised, a Jew or a Gentile, matter “in Christ Jesus”. The absolute irrelevancy of circumcision provides us with the understanding of how Paul could have Timothy circumcised in Acts 16:3, not as the beginning of a life of Law observance, but as a physical concession to allow Timothy to be, like Paul, a Jew to the Jews. But here the act of circumcision is invested with much more salvific significance. To become circumcised under these circumstances functions as a denial of the gospel.

What does count, Paul insists, is “faith operating through love”. “Expressing” might be a better translation for the meaning. While “faith” is the foundational principle, it must be expressed, executed, in living, and the manner and means of that execution is “love”. The shape of that love, Paul will take up a little further, but it is a faith-fueled life of loving that matters, not the status of circumcision or not.

In v7 Paul changes tack a little. He returns to an appeal to his readers. He reminds them first of their previous response and progress, i.e., ‘running well’. And contrasts that with the current situation, that someone has ‘cut in on’ them; my translation preserves a movement motif rather than a more typical ‘hindered’. In any case, the the question is rhetorical  as it is clear ‘who’ these hinderers are, but Paul identifies them by their result – they have restricted or stopped them from obeying the truth, that is the truth of the gospel. This ‘persuasion’, i.e. the act and/or content aimed at persuading them away from the truth, does not have its origin in him who calls them. The present ‘calls’ may focus our attention on the ongoing calling of God, rather than a singular act in the past.

v9 appears to be proverbial in nature, but is not found as a set proverb elsewhere. It has parallels, perhaps, in Mt 13:33, Lk 13:21. In any case, it is an illustrative proverb, taking the reality of the work of a small amount of yeast through a whole lump of bread, and applying it to the realm of thought and persuasion. While this teaching, regarding Judaisation of believers, seems small, it is significantly threatening the whole Galatian church[es]. Despite this appearance, Paul remains persuaded (note the play between v8 and v10 on persuasion), that they will not adopt this teaching, but ‘think nothing otherwise’ – i.e. hold no doctrines in a manner alternative to the orthodoxy that Paul has taught. This alternative gospel will not ultimately prevail, rather its purveyor will face (final) judgement. The reference ‘whoever it is’, is probably not to personal ignorance on Paul’s part, but rather to an irrelevancy of the prominence or prestige of that figure, or those figures.

Next Paul addresses what sounds like an allegation against him, or at least a statement of hearsay, that he himself still ‘preaches circumcision’. It would certainly have helped the Judaizers’ cause if they alluded or stated that Paul himself taught circumcision in the sense that they did. Paul raises the question, that rests on the following logic. If A, then not-B; B; therefore not-A. If Paul were preaching circumcision, he would not face persecution, i.e. his preaching would be a form of Judaism that would fit in with both contemporary Judaism and within the accommodated settlement that Judaism had in the Roman Empire. It is likely, given the next statement, that Paul probably has persecution and pressure from fellow Jews in mind. The offence of the cross has both Jewish and Gentile aspects, but in this letter that scandal or offence is more directly related to the Jewish context. The ‘offence of the cross’ here holds the very idea that the Cross, not initiation into old covenant membership and Law-keeping as means of righteousness, is the way of salvation. For those prioritising the old covenant, and circumcision as the means of entering into it, the Cross is always a stumbling block, as seen in the bulk of chapters 3-4. If Paul preached circumcision, he would not preach the Cross in terms of salvation by grace through faith, he would relativise it to the Mosaic covenant. 

Others translate v12 in a more forceful sense than I have here, and give the middle-tense a more reflexive force, e.g., “Would that these agitators castrate themselves”. There is no doubt about the forcefulness of Paul’s words, and the play upon ‘cut off’. Paul’s desire is, then, dual. First, a real desire that these troublers, agitators, disturbers, would be separated from the community of faith, and secondly a not-too-subtle suggestion that if they went further than circumcision to self-mutilation or self-emasculation, they would in fact be truly cut off, in terms of the OT Law, since this would exclude them from the worshipping community. Paul’s words are fighting words, as he finishes up a section in which he has gone head to head with these agitators, and sought to show how their devastating teaching is ‘another gospel’, which is totally emptied of salvific value, and so ‘no gospel at all’, and in doing so made heartfelt appeals to the Galatian believers not to be swaying or persuaded into following this destructive teaching.