Ethiopian Food

Last month when I was in Baltimore, I went out with the gang for Ethiopian. I made sure that Mary Beth knew about it so that I might incite in her a bit of jealousy. I didn’t want to make her jealous in the, I have but you have not sort of way. I wanted to ensure that she would remind me numerous times before we leave NC to go out for Ethiopian food.

This evening we did just that. We went out to eat at Ashee in Cary, NC. Mary Beth and I split the Keyi Tibs Wot (beef stew) and the Yebeg Alicha (Goat/Lamb stew).

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Do you think I liked it? You bet! Becky Black wrote in her autobiography:

An absolute favorite time at Bingham was Friday suppers, when the meal was served outside: all-you-can eat enjera b‘ wot, the national food of Ethiopia. I would get my food, move only a short distance away, eat, and be back for seconds before anyone else could turn around!”

That is exactly how I feel every time I have Ethiopian. I can’t slow down. It doesn’t take long after the meal is over for me to start again.

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Pericope Adulterae

Here’s a quick reminder about the Pericope Adulterae conference being held at SEBTS this weekend. I hope to see you there.

Whether or not you are able to make it, keep you eyes tuned to social media. We will be tweeting using #paconf. I will also make it a priority to blog about the goings on while there.

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Excerpt from Ælfric’s Colloqu

Here’s a fun little passage on learning. Enjoy.

Nos pueri rogamus te, magister, ut doceas nos loqui latialiter recte, quia idiote sumus et corrupte loquimur. Quid uultis loqui? Quid curamus quid loquamur, nisi recta locutio sit et utilis, non anilis aut turpis. Uultis flagellari in discendo? Carius est nobis flagellari pro doctrina quam nescire. Sed scimus te mansuetum esse et nolle inferre plagas nobis, nisi cogaris a nobis.

STUDENTS: We children ask you, teacher, that you might teach us to speak proper Latin, because we are uneducated and we speak corrupt Latin.

TEACHER: What do you desire to say?

STUDENTS: That which we care that we speak, except it might be proper speech and useful, neither old womanish or vulgar.

TEACHER: Do you desire  to be beaten while learning?

STUDENTS: It is more dear to us to be beaten for teaching than to be ignorant. But we know that you are kind and do not desire to inflict blows upon us, unless you are compelled by us.

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A Clitic in Jonah

About a year and a half ago I sat in on Larry Perkins’ paper at SBL Chicago entitled “The Order of Pronominal Clitics in Greek Exodus – An Indicator of the Translator’s Intentionality.” You can read about my summary of the presentation and Perkins’ findings here. At the time I thought the paper was fascinating, but wasn’t entirely sure it would be anything other than…well…fascinating.

As I was working through Jonah 1:9 today, I found a perfect example of what Perkins was talking about. Here’s what I wrote:

מַה־ מְּלַאכְתְּךָ֙
τίς σου ἡ ἐργασία ἐστί;


The first question hurled at Jonah concerns his occupation. Sasson notes that it may seem odd to modern readers that this would be the first question the sailors ask. It is customary in common parlance first to ask a person’s name.[1] He goes on to observe that this should not strike us as odd. The sailors are on the cusp of death frantically trying to circumvent their inevitable fate. We would only expect the most important question to be placed first. After all, and as the reader already knows, it is precisely Jonah’s occupation and his flight from duty that has created the problem.[2] The LXX translator seems to pick up on the importance of this question as well. Larry Perkins argues that the normal word order for clitics (words like μου and σου) in the LXX follows Hebrew syntax: noun + pronoun. Where this order is reversed, however, the translator recognizes and marks significant development within the narrative.[3] The translator of Jonah 1:8d places the pronoun σου before the noun it possesses. Of the nineteen instances of μου or σου in Jonah, this is the only instance where the translator places it before the noun. He means to draw the reader’s attention to this question. How will Jonah answer this probing question? What will the sailors do when they learn what the reader has known all along? The subsequent questions slow the narrative down creating tension as the reader dwells on these questions and their implications.


[1] Jack Sasson, Jonah, 113.

 [2] Ibid.

 [3] Larry Perkins, “The Order of Pronominal Clitics in Greek Exodus – An Indicator of the Translator’s Intentionality” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the SBL, Chicago, Il., 11/18/2012).

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Jonah 1:8–9

I am having some difficulties in understanding Jonah 1:8–9. It’s not in the translation of the passage. That is rather straightforward. It is in the structure, and in Jonah’s response. In Jonah 1:8, the sailors hail a barrage of questions at Jonah:

‏וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵלָ֔יו הַגִּידָה־נָּ֣א לָ֔נוּ ‏בַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר לְמִי־הָרָעָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את לָ֑נוּ מַה־מְּלַאכְתְּךָ֙ וּמֵאַ֣יִן תָּב֔וֹא מָ֣ה אַרְצֶ֔ךָ וְאֵֽי־מִזֶּ֥ה עַ֖ם אָֽתָּה׃

And they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil is among us. What is your occupation and where are you from? What land do you come from and what people?

Jonah’s response seems incongruous to modern readers:

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֖ם עִבְרִ֣י אָנֹ֑כִי וְאֶת־יְהוָ֞ה אֱלֹהֵ֤י הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֲנִ֣י יָרֵ֔א אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת־הַיָּ֖ם וְאֶת־הַיַּבָּשָֽׁה׃

And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and the Lord God of the heavens I fear, who made the sea and the dry land.

The question that consumes interpretive discussions is whether or not Jonah has answered any of the questions asked by the sailors. I have read countless takes on this passage with no agreement.

Youngblood suggests that all of the questions are summed up in “on whose account this evil is among us.” The sailors what to know what God is responsible for the storm. Occupation, home, land, and can be governed by different gods in the ancient world. Knowing all this information might help to locate the specific god responsible.

While I certainly agree that Youngblood has provided an excellent analysis of the passage, I wonder if there is a more nuanced structure at work.

The clause, “Tell us on whose account this evil is among us” does indeed strike me as a summary for the questions that follow. It is not, however a question in and of itself. The following four questions are joined by only two conjunctions producing was seems to be only two compounded questions:

  1. What is your occupation and where are you from?
  2. What land do you come from and what people?

If this is correct, then Jonah’s response makes greater sense. He begins by answering the last series of questions and proceeds to answer the first series. This produces a chiastic structure as follows:

What is your occupation and where are you from?
     B What land do you come from and what people?
     B’ I am a Hebrew
A’ And I fear/worship the Lord God who made the sea and the dry land.

The fact that Jonah is a Hebrew answers the questions concerning his native land and his people. I admit that the link between A and A’ is strained. Part of the strain is place on the link between occupation and “where are you from” in A by the use of the conjunction ו. This is further strained by the fact that we must construe Jonah’s confessional response as somehow related to his prophetic office in order to view it as an answer to the question of occupation. The confession and the office are not difficult to connect. The difficulty is whether or not the sailors would have in any way understood this as an answer to the question “what is your occupation?”

The Septuagint has issues of its own. First, the LXX translator adds καί so that each clause is linked with a conjunction. Second, he has misunderstood the consonantal text rendering עברי as δουλος producing the translation “I am a servant of the Lord” instead of “I am a Hebrew.” Furthermore, the verb σεβομαι is used instead of φοβεομαι. When lined up, the questions and answers look like this:

1) What is your occupation
2) And where are you from?
3) And what land do you come from
4) And what people are you from?
1)’ I am a servant of the Lord
1)’ And I worship the Lord God of of the heaven who made the sea and dry land.

In the LXX, Jonah specifically answers only the first questions. The rest of the questions, however, might be inferred by his use of the divine name. The Hebrews, who hail from Israel, worship YHWH.

In both the MT and the LXX, the sailors’ overall concern for the identify of the God responsible for the storm is answered. It is a matter of great difficult, however, in construing the nature of their questions and Jonah’s response. Any help in the comments section would be greatly appreciated.

Posted in Greek, Jonah, LXX, Old Testament Studies | 1 Comment

Cerone Workday

Today the Cerones have been hard at work. I started the morning off by packing up a dozen boxes and breaking down a desk. Then I was off to pick up paint from friends and from Home Depot. Then back home to start on the redecorating. We sanded the walls, repaired holes in the walls, sanded again, and started painting.

Here is a picture of what the walls downstairs used to look like.

163640_883519996799_2182270_nMary Beth picked that color when we first moved out of the house. I was skeptical about it at first, but it made the house look warm and inviting. In order to get a renter in the place, however, we needed to move toward something a bit more neutral. Here is what it looks like now (after the first coat of paint and with new blinds).

photo 1 photo 2I know the lighting is bad. It’s late at night and I didn’t have the flash on my camera. In case you’re wondering, the color is antique white.

Tomorrow will be another day of work. We are hoping to finish the kitchen, living room, and hallway. That will only leave the bedrooms!


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Jonah 1:6

Since I haven’t shared anything on Jonah or the Septuagint lately, I thought I might post a bit of what I have been working on in LXX Jonah.

Jonah 1:6fg

אוּלַ֞י יִתְעַשֵּׁ֧ת הָאֱלֹהִ֛ים לָ֖נוּ וְלֹ֥א נֹאבֵֽד
ὅπως διασώσῃ ὁ θεὸς ἡμᾶς καὶ μὴ ἀπολώμεθα
Perhaps the god might give a thought to us, and we might not perish
So that the god might deliver us, and we might not be destroyed


Why should Jonah call out to his god? The independent clause, introduced by אולי, expresses the captain’s hopeful, though uncertain, belief that Jonah’s god might deliver them from the storm.[1] The clause is transformed into a subordinate clause of purpose by the LXX translator’s use of ὅπως. Throughout the Septuagint corpus, ὅπως is used to translate אולי four times (Amos 5:15; Jonah 1:6; Zephaniah 2:3; Ezekiel 12:3). In each instance some form of the Lord’s judgment is in view, and those under his judgment are exhorted to act in some way in order to escape judgment. The use of the subjunctive (διασώσῃ) combined with ὅπως is a close approximation of the hopeful, though uncertain, sense of אולי. The overall construction, however, slightly alters the structure of the Hebrew text by subordinating a clause that was otherwise independent in the Hebrew text.

The verb עשת, “to think,” is a hapaxlegomena in the Hebrew Bible. Hapaxlegomena are notoriously difficult to translate both for the modern and ancient readers. This may account for the Greek translator’s selection of the Greek verb διασῴζω, “to save.” While this is a likely option, the Vulgate provides a closer approximation to the Hebrew with recogitet.[2] The witness of the Vulgate is evidence that the meaning of the Hebrew word was not unknown in the ancient world. It is, therefore, more likely that the LXX translator has provided his readers with a contextually sensitive and straightforward rendering of the word. Instead of conceiving of God as “giving a thought” to the sailors, he is called upon in order to “save” the sailors. Since the verb עשת is intransitive, it takes the prepositional phrase לנו to complete the sense of the clause. The Greek translator’s selection of διασῴζω, however, is transitive. This shift dictates that the translator renders לנו with ἡμᾶς instead of ἡμῖν.

The final change in this section involves the translation of the verb נאבד. The Greek translator continues the sense purpose created in the previous clause (ὅπως + subjunctive) by translating the Hebrew yiqtol verb with a subjunctive. The verb, though, is not active, as it is in the MT, but passive. The shift from the active to the passive voice displays the translator’s acute awareness of the context on. Despite everything that the sailors have done and can do, their fate is not in their hands; it is in the hands of God himself.

Codex Alexandrinus provides two unique readings in Jonah 1:6fg. The first is in 1:6f where εἴ πως occurs in place of ὅπως. The second is the addition of οὐ in 1:6g. Instead of reading “καὶ μὴ ἀπολώμεθα,” Alexandrinus reads “καὶ οὐ μὴ ἀπολώμεθα.” Used six times in the LXX as a translation for אולי, εἴ πως provides a closer approximation to the idea inherent in the Hebrew adverb.  The thrust of the construction focuses on the hopeful, though uncertain, nuance present in אולי. In this construction, the particle εἴ introduces the protasis of a conditional clause and “ἐπικαλοῦ τὸν θεόν σου” functions as the apodosis producing this translation: “If by any means God might save us … , then call upon your God.” The second change, the addition of οὐ, strengthens the negative construction μή + subjunctive producing on of the strongest means of negating a clause in the Greek language. Taken together, both of these changes in codex Alexandrinus strengthen the overall desperation of the sailors. They know that they fate is in a god’s hands. They will try anything and everything in order to escape certain death.


[1] BDB, 19.

[2] Phyllis Trible, “Biblical Studies of Jonah,” 21.

Posted in Greek, Hebrew, Jonah, LXX, Old Testament Studies | 5 Comments