zenpundit.com » scriptures

Archive for the ‘scriptures’ Category

On the liquidity of mountains, and cats

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — you might not have thought of cats as liquid, though they flow quite nicely on a decent carpet; and as for mountains — would they flow to Mohammed, or would he have to flow to them? ]
.

Somewhere I’d heard that Muhammad said that mountains moved like waves. I’d wondered which direction the Rocky Mountains might be moving in, whether they were aiming for the Pacific or the Atlantic coast, and what would happen to real estate prices and military bases in either case. I used to live in Denver..

And today I discovered the concept of the Deborah Number, defined thus:

The Deborah number (De) is a dimensionless number, often used in rheology to characterize the fluidity of materials under specific flow conditions. It quantifies the observation that given enough time even a solid-like material might flow, or a fluid-like material can act solid when it is deformed rapidly enough.

Reiner, whose paper originated the term, notes:

Deborah knew two things. First, that the mountains flow, as everything flows. But, secondly, that they flowed before the Lord, and not before man, for the simple reason that man in his short lifetime cannot see them flowing, while the time of observation of God is infinite. We may therefore well define a non-dimensional number the Deborah number..

The equation by which the Deborah Number, De, is defined as:

De = λ / T, where T is a characteristic time for the deformation process and λ is still the relaxation time.

**

The Deborah reference here is to the book of Judges chapter 5, verse 5, which Reiner reads as saying “The mountains flowed before the lord” — whereas the KJV has “The mountains melted from before the LORD” and the NIV, “he mountains quaked before the Lord”. Melting at least has a transition from solid to liquid state implied, whereas quaking doesn’t really shift mountains from their solidity, though they shake — like Quakers, perhaps?

It seems there may have been some conflation here, for Isaiah finally provides us with a text that gives mountains complete liquidity — Isaiah 64:3 in the KJV gives us “the mountains flowed down at thy presence..”

But see also the SKV renderings in the Addendum below..

**

And what of Muhammad? Shakir translates Qur’an 31.32:

And when a wave like mountains covers them they call upon Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience, but when He brings them safe to the land, some of them follow the middle course; and none denies Our signs but every perfidious, ungrateful one.

That has the waves moving, and their size resembling that of mountains, as I read it. Mohsin Khan‘s version often adds the translator’s explanations in brackets, as here:

And when a wave covers them like shades (i.e. like clouds or the mountains of sea­-water), they invoke Allah, making their invocations for Him only. But when He brings them safe to land, there are among them those that stop in the middle, between (Belief and disbelief). But none denies Our Signs except every perfidious ungrateful.

Here, “mountains of sea-water” are compared with “clouds” inside the brackets, but the text itself doesn’t mention either one..

**

Maybe the mountains won’t budge. That was the opinion of John Owen, who wrote in 1643:

If the mountaine will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will goe to the mountaine.

Bakker, Egbert J. 2005. Pointing at the Past: From Formula to Performance in Homeric Poetics. Hellenic Studies Series 12. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies devotes chapter 9 to the topic of Mohammed and the Mountain, referencing Karl Bühler’s Sprachtheorie: Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache (1934):

As Bühler puts it himself in reference to the well-known anecdote: either the mountain comes to Mohammed or Mohammed goes to the mountain … he adds that in real life the mountain is a lot more willing to move than in the legend, since the ease with which any given speech arena can be transformed into an imagined new reality is remarkable, and lies at the basis of any mimetic, theatrical illusion. .

Here, the mountain’s movement depends on imagination, even though Bühler seems to refer to it as moving “in real life” as well as in “any mimetic, theatrical illusion”.

Of course, the very idea concealed within the name Rheology is that of universal flow, espoused by Heraclitus:

παντα ρει : Everything Flows

**

And if everything, then cats. It was a tweet by blog-friend Adam Elkus that put me in mind of liquidity in the first place this morning:

Cat physics!

It’s an an obvious field of study once you understand the centrality of cats to the universe, and It’s appropriate enough that a cat physicist, Marc-Antoine Fardin, should have won the Ig Nobel Prize. His definition of liquid is a simple one:

A liquid is traditionally defined as a material that adapts its shape to fit a container.

He proceeds to show two examples which may fit this definition, which I’ve cropped to show you full size. First, a cat demonstrating oval form:

And here’s the rounded rectangle form, adopted by the cat from Adam‘s tweet —

**

Suggested Thinking:

  • >Wolfram MathWorld tells us a sausage-form filled rounded rectangle is termed a stadium. Cat stadium, or a stadium cat? Now there’s food for a football (or baseball, or rock music) thought..
  • _____

    Addendum:

    Tweets from Splymoth A. Klavrock supplied us with the SKV translation of Isaiah 64:1-3:

    Oh if you would only tear the Heavens apart and descend. In your presence the mountains would melt down like when fire crackles through kindling. The fire makes oceans seethe, so your name is made known to your adversaries, and nations quake in your presence.

    You did fearsome things, things we never hoped for, and in the doing of them you descended. The mountains melted down in your presence.

    From all eternity no ear has heard, and no eye has seen any god but you, and the things you do for the ones who wait for you.

    Klavrock had another suggestion, linking the “motion” verb to something internal, close to an “emotion”:

    I think “melted” is the same verb as when the Israelites’ hearts “melt” in fear facing a strong enemy. Which is interesting.

    Many thanks, SK!

    A magical tale, in three accelerating acts

    Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — magic is imagination, see my post Vlahos: violence is the magical substance of civil war earlier today ]
    .

    Act One: Jacob’s Ladder

    Jacob’s ladder, on which angels are show ascending and descending, is revealed to Jacob in a dream: sheer magic — and how richly strange to see the ladder emerge from a simple loop of string..

    **

    Act Two: Pavel Tchelitchew, The Concert {via Alabandine]

    That the string figure should become a stringed instrument, plucked by the teeth and accompanied by tambourine.. again, we are raised an octave above our grounded selves..

    **

    Act Three: Bob Dylan, Song and Dance Man

    And the song and dance musician magician Dylan — his harmonica, making an anthem for us all.

    The most interesting..

    Friday, October 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron –a quick round ’em up, rawhide of news and views — read the first one, even if you skip the rest — some of which are frankly hilarious, and darkly sad too — and towards the end, there’s one mind-blower with gospel reference! ]
    .

    Millennial mils debate Syria:

    This, from WaPo‘s summary of the Democratic debate of 15 October 2019:

    There was a point in the middle of the debate when South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) had an impassioned debate about whether the United States should be in Syria. Gabbard was the most noninterventionist candidate on the stage, while Buttigieg said Syria was perhaps the one place in the Middle East where we continue to need a presence. That disagreement aside, this was two millennial veterans of Middle East wars — the only two combat veterans among the leading candidates — having that debate on a presidential stage. That’s quite the moment.

    That’s a debate within the debate, and the criterion for being on that stage is a lot stiffer than for the stage-of-twelve.

    BTW, hey matryoshka! —

    **

    Serpents I:

    And then this, for a serpent-bites-tail moment, with the middle slytherin’ of the snake passing through time:

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) offers a lesser time-inflected serpent on Twitter:

    Wow. We bombed our own base on purpose, because of the impulsive decision by @realDonaldTrump didn’t leave time to evacuate the right way. Is this the America you grew up believing in?

    **

    Word choices I:

    Inside that Giuliani serpent piece, there’s this exquisite word choice by a company pertinent to the investigation:

    **

    Word choices II:

    But it gets better, once you look at the Giuliani associate twins, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas:

    Snap!!

    **

    Serpents II:

    Here’s a serpent formerly biting its tail attempting to unbite it:

    It’s a microcosm of the same Trumpworld shamelessness that has suddenly converted Donald Trump Jr. into an outspoken opponent of nepotism.

    **

    Here’s a report of Bolton‘s grenade attack on Giuliani:

    Giuliani’s growing headaches are political as well as legal. Yesterday Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, Fiona Hill, reportedly told congressional investigators that her boss, former national security adviser John Bolton, labeled Giuliani “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up” by meddling in Ukraine…

    That’s six, just from my first scan — seven would be enough for me to close this and post!

    **

    Seventh:

    Oh well, as you may know, my degree is in Theology from Christ Church, Oxford, and I’ve continued my interest in New Testament scholarship while broadening it to include Gnostic, Buddhist, shamanic and other sources..

    Today’s haul [well, a day or two ago, but today at the time of writing!] contains a second matryoshka instance, this one from a piece about “Secret Mark” — the gospel fragment preserved by Clement of Alexandria and disclosed to the world by Morton Smith in 1973:

    Since the Swine do not actually appear to have any overlap with the adjacent story of the possessed man, the story of the Swine appears to be another intercalation or at least addition. It seems like “Mark” had a collection of unconnected stories that he pasted together to create a single narrative. His literary techniques with intercalations and framing stories (i.e. putting some of his stores inside other stories instead of pasting them one after another) give us an idea of how freely he worked with his material.

    What’s really interesting about the fragment of a letter from Saint Clement containing a previously unknown section of Mark’s gospel is that it suggests that Jesus taught some form of initiation into :

    And they came into Bethany, and a certain woman, whose brother had died, was there. And coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and said to him, ?Son of David, have mercy on me.‘ But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightaway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth came to him, wearing a linen cloth over [his] naked [body.] And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.

    The mystery of the kingdom of God?

    Some second form of baptism? In the spirit? With an entheogen, as (arguably) in other “mysteries” such as that of Eleusis? A sexual, tantric mystery (the young man is instructed to be naked)? Or an initiation into meditation techniques? Who knows. All we can say is that according to this fragment, Jesus seems to have had some deeper teaching that he revealed after seven days to the young man..

    More:

  • Shawn Eyer, The Strange Case of the Secret Gospel According to Mark
  • Richard Hooper, The Naked Man in the Garden and The Secret Gospel of Mark
  • There, number seven, and it’s a humdinger! — and every one of them featuring some sort of formal interest!

    **

    Boom! Bonus:

    Hobby Lobby and a Bible fragment controversy

    I ran across this while searching for a link to Morton Smith‘s book — or was it the other way around? Anyway, this is about a different Mark gospel fragment, indeed possibly the earliest New Testament manuscript of all:

    From today’s Guardian:

    An Oxford University professor has been accused of selling ancient Bible fragments to a controversial US company that has been involved in several high-profile scandals related to its aggressive purchases of biblical artefacts.

    Dirk Obbink, one of the world’s most celebrated classics professors, has been named after an investigation by staff associated with Oxford’s Oxyrhynchus Papyri project.

    He is accused of selling without permission a number of ancient fragments to the US arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby. Its owners, the Green family, are prominent Christian evangelicals and, under the guidance of the Hobby Lobby president, Steve Green, were behind the founding of Washington’s $400m Museum of the Bible in 2017. [ .. ]

    The lecturer in papyrology and Greek literature has previously denied some of the allegations, telling the Daily Beast in 2018 that the claim he sold a fragment of the first chapter of the gospel of Mark to Hobby Lobby was not true.

    Previous reports:

  • Gospel Coalition, 2015, How Should We Respond to Reports that a Fragment of Mark Dates to c1 ?

    It was reported yesterday that a three-dozen member team of scientists and scholars—apparently including the well-respected New Testament historian Craig Evans—is working on a papyrus fragment of the Gospel of Mark, discovered as part of an ancient Egyptian funeral mask.

    Due to the expense of securing clean papyri sheets in the ancient world, the papier-mâché of these masks was made from recycled papyri that already contained writing. Evans explains, “We’re recovering ancient documents from the first, second and third centuries. Not just Christian documents, not just biblical documents, but classical Greek texts, business papers, various mundane papers, personal letters.”

    Amazing, eh? Metacognitive reading: think about it, what’s hidden in our masks?

  • Christianity Today 2018, Despite Disappointing Some, New Mark Manuscript Is Earliest Yet

    The Egypt Exploration Society has recently published a Greek papyrus that is likely the earliest fragment of the Gospel of Mark, dating it from between A.D. 150–250. One might expect happiness at such a publication, but this important fragment actually disappointed many observers. The reason stems from the unusual way that this manuscript became famous before it became available.

    I’m afraid that’s the story of its questionable sale..

    Oh dammit, Professor Obbink is a tutor at Christ Church — my own college.

  • DQ #5, About that Mandate of Heaven..

    Sunday, October 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — all right, here’s the religion and morality heavy-hitter — DoubleQuote #5 in a series ]
    .

    **

    Pat Robertson — well, I leave you to our own musings about him — in any case, he mentions the Mandate of Heaven which, the Chinese being subtler thn the British, compares favorably with the Divine Right of Kings in that it can be withdrawn at the pleasure of the gods. Justice in a ruler, equitabe and fair, is the criterion for

    Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, has a rule-book for kings and those they reign over, and while Trump was anointed to his presidential role and widely considered a king Cyrus, as an outsider to the faithful, or a king David, as an adulterer nonetheless pleasing unto God, both concepts conferring wiggle-room on the wishes of Heaven, Russell Moore, one of the prime theologians and ethicists of the Southern Baptists, appears to agree with Robertson that the Mandate or Divine Right or fidelity under oath to the Constitution of these United States may be evaporating.

    Now I ask you..

    **

    For a discussion of the president-as-king theory and the meaning of executive power, see JD Mortenson, What Two Crucial Words in the Constitution Actually Mean.

    Ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the President. President‘s serve at the pleasure of the Congress, Cabinet, or electorate. It would be wise for the Congress, Cabinet, or electorate to ponder, under present circumstances, the Mandate of Heaven or, which is much the same thing, the Will of the People.

    Atwood DoubleQuoted

    Friday, September 6th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — just alerting you to the sequel ]
    .

    Since my life these days is largely spent in bed or in my wheelchair, and since I don’t have access to my books,I’ve been working on a slew of book reviews. This is just to forewarn you that Margaret Atwood has a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale coming out very soon:

    Amazon:

  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Margaret Atwood, The Testaments
  • **

    While we’re at it, compare and contrast:

    The theoretical Calvinist theological underpinning of Atwood‘s tale would be:

  • RJ Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law
  • **

    And thanks, Gregory:

    !! Yes !!


    Switch to our mobile site