Friday, June 24, 2011

How Calvin helped create Unitarianism

Originally, the scattered and vague notions that later amalgamated and rigidified into Unitarianism were just that.   Ignorance, confusion, religious questions raised when the Bible first became available in the common languages of ordinary people.   This was of course inevitable and expected.   What was unusual, was that a group of core-issues would become a lightning-rod and in some sense a rallying-point around which dissatisfied intellectuals, independents, and social movers would collect and congeal, under the name "Unitarianism".

While many factors contributed to the phenomenon, one stunning and burning incident did more in the next 4 centuries to promote Unitarianism than any other:  The murder of Servetus by Calvin.

Here is an excerpt from Heretics, by Jonathan Wright (NY, 2011) p. 200 fwd:


Shortly after midday on Oct. 27, 1553, Michael Servetus was marched throught the city gates of Geneva [Switzerland], headed for Champel Hill.  His heretical meditations on the Trinity had been denounced as "impious blasphemies and insane errors, wholly foreign to the word of God".   A guard of mounted archers, robed clergymen and magistates, and much of Geneva's citizenry acompanied the 42 yr. old Spaniard.  They would soon witness one of the 16th century's most notorious executions.  Servetus was bound to a stake with iron chains, a crown of twigs and sulfur was placed on his head, and sticks of green wood - intended to burn more slowly and thus prolong his suffering - were lit.  By some accounts, Servetus let out a cry: "Misericordia, misericordia. Jesus have compassion upon me."  A copy of his infamous book - Christianismi Restitutio - burned beneath his feet.
For more than two decades Michael Servetus had been artfully evading those who sought his downfall.  At only 20 years of age he had published a book that launched a theologically confused but full-throated assault on the cherished Christian doctrine of the Trinity:  the belief in one God as three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - joined in mystical union, and all three responsible for our salvation.   Puzzlingly, Servetus had boldly put his name to this most controversial of tracts (his printer had sensibly remained anonymous), but when inquisitorial proceedings were launched against him, Servetus did not hesitate to adopt a pseudonym.  In his new guise as Michel de Villeneuve, he fled to Paris to study mathematics and medicine.  A second, and third, career ensued, in which he served time as a proofreader in Lyon and, with some audacity, worked as the personal physician to the princes of the church (including the archbishop of Vienne) he had so offended.
He remained at the theological maverick, however, and in 1545 he made the fateful decision to strike up a correspondence with the great reformer of Geneva, John Calvin.  As we've seen, Calvin's theology was itself unfeasibly radical - it exploded centuries of Christian thought about salvation, grace, and predestination - but Calvin was never anything other than a devoted believer in the Trinity.  As such, he despised Michael Servetus, and when occasion arose he set about to destroy him.  When Servetus's Christianismi Restitutio (a more mature anti-Trinitarian work) was published in 1553, the French authorities arrested him and declared him a heretic.  It is likely that it was Calvin who informed his Catholic enemies that they had a covert Unitarian in their midst: a curious, some would say disreputable, moment of cross-confessional cooperation in a century of religious strife.  Again however, Servetu made good his escape.  Early one morning he scaled the wall of the prison garden in Vienne and headed of to Italy: all that was left to the infuriated French authorities was to burn Servetus in effigy.
Bizarrely, and catastrophically, Servetus decided to stop off at Geneva en route.  Since he had arrived on Sunday, he even took the risky step of going to see John Calvin preach in one of the city's churches.  Calvin, out of theological distaste and in order to reassert his waning political influence, engineered Servetus' arrest and trial.  A boisterous examination of Servetus' opinions followed, in which the heretic was charged with spreading "endless blasphemies", calling the baptism of children "an invention of the devil", and even studying the detested Koran "in order to controvert and disprove the doctrine and religion that the Christian churches hold."  Worst of all, he had allegedly described the Trinity as a "three-headed devil, like to Cerberus, whom the ancient poets have called the dog of hell, a monster."
Servetus' guilt was established to the satisfaction of the city's Lesser Council and, while Geneva sought the advice of other Swiss cities about how best to proceed, Servetus languished in prison.  He complained endlessly about his plight, "the lice eat me alive", he informed the city magistrates, "my clothes are torn, and I have nothing for a change, neither a jacket nor a shirt"; realizing that his prospects were bleak, he pleaded that he might be killed in as humane a way as possible.  It was commonly supposed that the true martyr would endure his final agonies with unworldy serenity.   Servetus feared that, if the flames began to lick, he would respond with a distinct lack of courage.  As we have seen, his requests fell on deaf ears.

The context of Servetus' execution is all important.  By 1553, the rigors of John Calvin's regime were already well known.  Nowhere was the concept of a controlled, magisterial Reformation more in evidence.  During the 1540s and 1550s, as much as 7 percent of Geneva's population (a startlingly high proportion) was brought before its ecclesiastical tribunal, the Consistory:  Protestantism's very own Inquisition
Some offenders had done nothing more heinous than play cards or don extravagant clothing.  Others were adulterers, blasphemers, and religious dissidents, many of whom received punishments - ranging from excommunication, to banishment, to execution - that even by the standards of the 16th century were unusually severe.  It was all part of Calvin's plan to reform the morality of the city he hoped to turn into a Protestant paradise.
Pierre Ameaux criticized Calvin's penchant for employing French preachers in Geneva's churches.   As punishment, he was made to parade through the city's streets in a hair shirt, begging for forgiveness.  Valentin Gentilis held theological views that Calvin found unappetizing, and was made to undergo the humiliation of publicly burning his own books.   And yet, even in this oppressive climate, the particularly gruesome death fo Micheal Servetus stands out.

One contemporary, the French theologian Sebastian Castellio (1515-1563), found the whole episode deeply shameful.  For Castellio, the execution was an unforgivable act of tyranny.  He began to wonder if the very notion of persecuting heretics was not a betrayal of the entire Christian cause.  Just what were heretics, Castellio asked:  simply "those with whom we disagree".  And while you might detest the people with whom you quarreled, it really wasn't appropriate to torture and kill them.  Force and violence had no role to play in the arena of religious belief because the truth could not be hammered into  people's minds.  Persuasion was endlessly more efficient than coercion.
Castellio asked his Christ a rhetorical question. "I beg you in the name of your Father, do you now command that those who do not understand your precepts be drowned in water, cut with lashes to the entrails, dismembered by the sword, or burned at a slow fire?"   Did Christ approve of these things being done in his name?  "Are they your vicars who make these sacrifices?"  Of course not.  "O plashemous and shameful audacity of men, who dare to attribute to Christ that which they do by the command and the instigation of Satan."
The subsequent adjudication has been ferocious too.  Servetus' execution is an event that has continued to haunt the people of Geneva.  In 1909 an expiatory monument was erected on the site fo Servetus' execution.  It can still be visited today, where the Avenue de la Rosarie meets the Avenue de Beau-Sejour.  Its inscription dutifully pays tribute to John Calvin - "our great reformer" and theman who, after all, made Geneva into one of the most influential cities in Europe - but it also apologizes for the death of Servetus as an odious crime against liberty of conscience.  In fact, this was only the most recent outpouring of sympathy for Michael Servetus.
Throughout the 19th century - when notions of religious freedom were very much in vogue - there had been a frenzied competition to see who could erect the most elaborate monument in his memory, or write the most adoring account of his deeds.  It became fashionable to refer to Champel Hill, where Servetus was broiled alived, as a second Golgotha.
The truth is that someone like Castellio was very unusual.  His condemnation of the Servetus affair won a wide readership and there was a good deal of grumbling about going so far as killing a fellow, if idiosyncratic, Protestant.   That, so it was averred, was what Catholics did.   Nonetheless, most contemporaries, if they complained at all, only worried about the specific circumstances of Servetus' treatment.   Killing him was perhaps a little harsh, and killing him in such a way was a public relations disaster (and, for the record, Calvin himself suggest that Servetus be beheaded - a much less excruciating way to meet your maker).   The execution was seen as a scandal across Protestant Europe.  Hardly anyone doubted that he had to be silenced and punished, however.   The events in Geneva in 1553 have grabbed the headlines for five centuries.  Thanks to Castellio's reaction, they are routinely invoked as one of the steps on the road to religious toleration, but in the context of the 16th century Servetus' execution only represented the most extreme articulation of a prevailing logic.   Protestantism, in places like Calvin's Geneva, had won the day.  It was in charge, and, in the interests of social order and theological respectability, it felt obligated to hammer out its orthodoxies and strike down its heretical enemies."

The importance of Wright's notes here in our view center around his insight into how the torture/murder of Servetus actually drove people away from Calvin and the Trinitarian camp, now perceived as 'yet more Roman Catholic tyranny' and swung public opinion toward religious tolerance of heretical opinion, which was now perceived of as a far lesser social evil than wrongful torture and murder.

In essence, those living in the 19th century perceived religious authorities generally to be tyrannical, despotic, and probably ignorant concerning religious truth.  It became recognized that freedom of expression was essential to actual scientific progress and the increase of knowledge.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Hard Look at Acts (4): Dating the Synoptic Gospels

I think James was killed around 62 A.D.

That having been said, the letter of James could have been written anytime between 40 and 60 A.D., but I tend to date it early because it is simple and primitive in its Christology and Theology, and it is addressed to the Twelve Tribes of Israel in the Diaspora.

Additionally, Matthew seems to use James liberally in composing the Sermon on the Mount, which is a blend of Luke's Sermon on the Plain and James, as well as other collected sayings of Jesus, now removed from their original historical context:

I didn't see the Gospels on there, when were they written?
If early traditions are correct, then Matthew would have first published a collection of Jesus' sayings in Hebrew or Aramaic in the early 30s or 40s, from Jerusalem, and this would have circulated among Christians as far as Galilee, Samaria, Syria (Antioch) and even Asia Minor and Egypt (Alexandria).

Peter would have had access to this, and would have assisted Mark to write the first near-complete Gospel (either Mark or Ur-Mark), probably sometime before Paul came to Rome (50s?).

Luke seems to have used Mark as a base, and combined it with Matthew's sayings collection, as well as eyewitness accounts from other early Apostolic church members, sometime before 60 A.D. (Luke was written before Acts, c. 60-62 A.D.).

Luke block-copies MarkMatthew block-copies Mark

Mark may have been revised after the composition of Luke, since Luke omits one large section of our current version of Mark, (the Great Lukan Omission, Mark 6:45-8:25).

Our Greek Matthew seems to have been composed on the same general idea as Luke (combining Mark with other sayings material). However, Matthew clearly uses the version of Mark now containing the Lukan Omission section.

Matthew was apparently composed sometime after controversies between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians had been worked out, as he has carefully combined Luke's Sermon on the Plain and the letter of James to produce his opus "Sermont on the Mount", a large and organized collection of many of Jesus' sayings, now blended with James' teaching and lacking most of the original contexts, which are given in Luke and Mark etc.

Matthew is also the only Gospel to use the word "Church" (ekklesia), and was probably written just after Luke, possibly in the 60s, after the Church had finally split with the Jewish community; but apparently before the destruction of Jerusalem.

For more info on the Synoptic Problem, go to our website here, for good diagrams etc:

Hard Look at Acts (3): Josephus - the Murder of James 62 A.D.

Here is the key excerpt from Josephus, courtesy of James Tabor's site:

Josephus on the Death of James brother of Jesus, in 62 C.E.
Josephus, Antiquities
Book 20: chapter 9

"1. AND now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus.
Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests.
But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the [office of] high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, son of Damneus, high priest."
Our interest here for the moment is the fact that James' death is not recorded in the Book of Acts, (just as the sack of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple is not recorded), and this suggests not only that Acts was written before 70 A.D., but actually before 62 A.D., since it is hardly conceivable that Luke would have left out the death of James or the destruction of the Jerusalem Church, had he written after that time.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Hard Look at the Book of Acts (2) Roman Background

Here's a brief Roman chronology for the same period as the book of Acts, taken from H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero (5th ed. 1982):

30 A.D.  Publications  of the History of Velleius Paterculus
31 Tiberius, consul v, with Sejanus. Gaius recieves toga virilius.   Sejanus put to death. Marco appointed Praetorian Prefect
33 Death of Agrippaina on island of Pandateria. Gaius quaestor. Financial difficulties in Rome. Possible date for the Crucifixion of Christ.

34  Palestinian Tetrarchy of Philip incorporated into Syria
36 Pontius Pilate sent to Rome by L. Vitellius govenor of Syria
37 Death of Tiberius Caesar (16 march)  Accession of Gaius ('Caligula') he is consul with Claudius. Commagene re-established as a client kingdom
38 Death  and deification of Drusilla. Jewish disturbances in Alexandria. Polemo II receives Pontus and Cotys Armenia Minor
39 Gaius goes to the Rhine. Julia and Agrippina exiled
40  Gaius expedition to the Channel, returns to Rome. Ptolemy of Mauretania murdered in Rome, revolt  in Mauretania. Jewish embassy from Alexandria to Rome.  Agrippa I receives kingdom of Antipas. Judaea restless
41  Gaius murdered (24 Jan) Claudius made emperor. The Chauci defeated. Claudius settles Alexandrian trouble. Agrippa I receives Judaea and Samaria. Exile of Seneca to Corsica
42 Revolt of Scribonianus in Dalmatia: his suicide. Mauretania organized as two provinces
43 Expedition to Britain.   Lycia  made an imperial province
44 Claudius' triumph over Britain.  Achaea and Maccedonia transferred to Senate. Death of Herod Agrippa I.   Judaea reverts to provincial status
46 Thrace made a province
47 Triumph of Aulus Plautius for conquest of Britain. Claudius and L. Vitellius censors. Ludi Saeculares. Corbulo campaigns against Frisii. Ostorius Scapula in Britain
48 Messalina killed
49 Seneca recalled from Corsica and made praetor  and Nero's tutor
50 Claudius adopts Nero as Guardian for Britannicus.  Agrippa II rules in Chalcis
51 Burrus made Praetorian prefect, Vespasian consul. Caratactus defeated in Wales Vologeses king of Parthia (or in52) Gallio proconsul in Achaea (51-52) 
53 Nero  marries  Octavia . Parthians occupy Armenia and Tiridates recovers the throne
54 Death of Claudius. Accession of Nero. Caldius deified
55 Britannicus poisoned. Pallus dismissed . Corbulo goes to the East
56 Praefecti  aerarii replace quaestores aerrarii
57 Nero orders senators and knights to take part in Games
58 Nero refuses  perpetual consulship. Corbulo captures  Artaxata
59 Nero Murders Agrippina: establishes Greek Games. Cobulo takes Tigranocerta
60 Neronia establishes Corulo settles Armenia governor of Syria.  Festus succeeds Felix as governor of Judaea
61 Revolt  of Boudicca and Iceni in Britain
62 Death  of Burras. Tigellinus  made  Praetorian Prefect.  Seneca disgraced. Nero divorces  Octavia and marries Poppaea. Octavia murdered. Paetus surrenders to the Parthians at Rhandeia
64 Great fire at Rome.  Persecution of the Christians. Domus Aurea begun. Mission to Ethiopia. Cottian Alps  made a province (64-65) Pontus incorporated into  Galatia
65 Conspiracy  of Piso. Suicides of Seneca ans Lucan. Death of Poppaea.  Musonius Rufus exiled
66 Nero crowns Tiridates king of Armenia in Rome and goes to Greece. Thrasea Paetus condemned. Conspiracy of Vinicius  at  Beneventum. Nero marries Statilia Messalina. Temple of Janus  closed. Suicide of Petronius Rebellion in Palestine.
67 Nero at Corinthian canal. Corbulo ordered to commit suicide.  Vespasian in command in Judaea: Josephus surrenders to him
68 Nero returns  to Italy. Death of Nero (6 June) Galba, accepted  by Senate and Praetorians, enters Rome (autumn) Verginius Rufus opposes Vindex's rebellion in Gaul.  Defeat and death of Vindex. Vespasian attacks Jerusalem
69  After the death of Galba and brief reigns of Otho and Vitellius, Vespasian becomes emperor  and reaches Rome in summer of 70
70  Jerusalem sieged and burned by Titus, temple destroyed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Revelation for Dummies (5) - Western Collapse, Eastern Expansion

We said last post (Revelation for Dummies 4) that a few maps would illustrate the point, the point being the fall into the Dark Ages for the Latin West, and the simultaneous flowering of the Eastern Greek Empire: here are some illustrative maps (Click on maps to enlarge):

The Empire was officially split into East and West with separate rulers back in 395 A.D., with the death of the last full Emperor, Theodosius.

From there things quickly got worse for the West, as individual nations rebelled and set up their own independent kingdoms, outside of Western or Eastern control.  These political border changes were not peaceful, but were accompanied by wars, sacking and looting, rape, murder, and slaughter of various Western populations.

By about 530 A.D., the Western half of the Roman Empire was essentially nonexistant:

Parts of the West were recovered by Emperor Justinian the 1st, Italy and the Western part of North-Africa (Carthage, Morocco) and even the Southern tip of Spain, as well as the Alars in the North-East.   Most of this happened between 533 and 536 A.D., but material gains were eroded again after Justinian's death.
The Eastern Byzantine Empire reached its peak extension in Justinian's reign, and he capped it off by building the Hagia Sophia, probably the greatest cathedral built until that time. 

The first Major Bubonic Plague struck in 541-544 A.D., however, various smaller plagues had been running amok in the West for many years already as a result of war and famine.

Next the powerful Lombards invaded Italy from the north in 568 A.D., and took over most of the peninsula and all of Northern Italy.  Their former territory was filled by the Avars.  The Frankish Empire had expanded to absorb the Bretons on the West coast of France, and also the Thuringians and Burgundians.   Later, in 560 A.D. the Slavic Bulgars invaded to attack the Greek city of Athens.   Finally, even before the advent of Islam, the Ghasahid kingdom began to encroach upon most of Palestine, weakening the Byzantine hold on the Holy Land and Egypt.

The strength of the Eastern Empire was in its central position in over the Eastern Mediteranean, its Roman built roads, and sea power.  But it never had the disciplined standing army of the old Roman Empire. 

The maps illustrate clearly the relative poverty and collapse of the West, while the East continued to flourish, at least in the center of the Byzantine Empire.  Although many smaller kingdoms rose out of the West, they were all local peoples simply getting independence by force.

In the next century saw rapid expansion of the Islamic Caliphates, with the losses by the Eastern Byzantines to the Arabs of Armenia, Syria, and Egypt.  This effectively lost control of North Africa, and the defense of Spain also became impossible.
The West remained in a state of economic confusion and hardship, while the remaining Byzantine Empire carried on.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Hard Look at the Book of Acts

Before going further with our notes on Revelation, we want to make a short excursion to cover the Book of Acts and Paul's letters. 
The following chart will be helpful for placing the key NT writings on a chronological time-chart, and give keys to the backgrounds of various letters by Paul:

Timeline for Acts/Paul:  Click to Enlarge full size 

The diagram is for the most part self-explanatory.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Revelation for Dummies (4) - The Latin Dark Ages

As shown in the diagram above, the moving of the Capital of the Empire to the Greek East had a devastating impact on the Latin West, effectively abandoning the whole West to repeated invasions, pillaging, looting, and a complete economic disruption.  This left the West in a shambles, with death by warfare, anarchy, vandalism, starvation, and plague running rampant everywhere.

To quote the historian C.P.S. Clarke,
"Alaric and his Goths sacked Rome in 410.  In the 5th century Visigoths settled in southern Gaul and Spain; Franks in northern Gaul and the Rhine; Burgundians and OstroGoths east of the Rhine and on the Danube; OstroGoths and then Lombards in North Italy, and Jutes and Saxons in Briain. Attila with a host of Huns invated Italy in 451.  The [Western] Empire did not fall in a moment.  Its policy was to recognise the conquerors and, as far as possible, absorb their rulers into itself as subordinate kings. ...There was in fact a good eal of 'gradualness' about the breakup of the empire.  But in 476 the last Western Emperor, Augustulus, was forced to abdicate and the West was left without any emperor, except for the distant potentate in Constantinople, and kingdoms, independent in name as well as fact, were set up.
The Effect of the Invasions: - The effect has been variously estimated.  AN earlier generation of scholars was inclined to lay stress on the masculine vigour of the barbarian as a fair compensation for the loss of civilization and culture.  - The latest writer to deal with the subject, Boissonarde, can see nothing but evil in the invasions, and thus sums up their results:

"The idleness, stupidity, coarseness, ignorance, credulity and cruelty of the barbarians took the place of the well-regulated activity, polish, culture, relative humanity of the Romans.  Far from regenerating the world, they nearly wiped out civilization altogether.  Far from assisting its economic development, they ruined all activity by committing everywhere pillage, disorder, destruction.   They created nothing, but they destroyed much and they put a stop to all progress for several centuries.  The barbarian settlements produced one of the greatest retrogressions which the world has ever seen."
This view is borne out by Gregory, Bishop of Tours (c. 573-594) whose History of the Franks is the principal source of our knowledge of the barbarians.
The breakdown of order and constant invasions of predatory bands produced an almost chronic state of famine.  After a raid over Bourges we read:
"There remained not a house, not a vineyard, not a tree; all was cut down and ruined.   They even carried off the sacred vessels from the churches and burned the churches themselves with fire".   Again, "Many a region did he lay waste again and again."  In 536 A.D. ,50,000 peasants are said to have died of famine in a single province of Italy.  Gregory alludes to famines as of common occurence.  OF the year 580 he wrote: "IN this year almost all Gaul was oppressed  by famine.  Multitudes were reduced to making a kind of bread by drying and pounding grapeseeds or hazelblossom, and adding a little flour, while others did the same with fern-roots."  Famine and the destruction of baths and sanitation were naturally followed by disease and plague. Boissonarde reports that in Britain in the 7th century, half the population perished during one visitation.  Gregory writes as if dysentery and bubonic plague were endemic.   In Auvergne, in 571, one sunday 300 people died in a single church.   In Rome, Gregory saw 80 people dying in the street during a single Rogation procession. "
(Clarke, Short History of the Christian Church 1948),p. 104-106

The West was quickly lost to barbarian hordes and gangs, and the Roman Empire was obliterated in just about every province.   A few maps illustrate the extent of the devastation.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rebinding old books and periodicals

Here's some easy to follow ideas from a library restoration site:

Step 1:  Preparing the Text-block:

Often the text-block is solidly stitched and only needs old glue and paper scraped off, and a new layer of glue along the spine. Care should be taken not to cut or break the stitching. 

If you are starting with loose sheets, the following procedure called "double-fan binding" will be helpful:

Gluing up the spine
Text block in finishing press
  1. Jog the textblock edges on your work surface to even up all the pages. You’ll need to keep the textblock together while you glue the spine. To do this you can
    • put it in a finishing press, spine end up, with about 1/3 of it sticking out. You can make a simple finishing press using these directions.
    • Binder clipIf you don’t have a finishing press, attach binder clips to the head and tail of the textblock edge. Either stand the block up, balanced on the open binder clips, or lay the textblock on the work surface with the spine extended out over the edge of the table, weighted so that it won’t move while you glue.
    Whichever method you use, be sure to check carefully that the spine is even, straight and square.
  2. Fan the pages over to one side. The textblock should be fanned evenly so all the pages are ever-so-slightly exposed. Work glue (undiluted PVA) onto the surface with a brush or a small sponge paint roller.
  3. Fan the pages the other way and brush on the glue again.
  4. With the textblock upright, squeeze the spine between your fingers to remove any excess glue. Smooth the spine with your finger. Let the glue set up for a few minutes.
Fanning the spine for glue and then bringing the text block upright to squeeze and consolidate
  1. Take the textblock out of the press, wrap it in waxed paper, put it under weight and let it dry.

 Step 2:  Gluing on Endsheets:  

End papers, or what are sometimes called the "fly-leaves" of a book, are important and should always be of paper similar to that of the book, and used so the grain of the paper runs lengthwise. With a large steel square, get a square corner, measuring from this four sheets one-half inch longer and one inch wider than an open sheet of the book. Mark each of the four corners with a cross, and cut the edges with a knife, along the lines formed by the square. Paste an inch wide strip of book linen on to form a "tip" or guard as in the guest book, but unlined.
When the end papers are made and laid in the position on the ends of the book, tip out, with the corner marked X at the top, the book is ready to be put in press. After the "head" is cut by hand, the "fore-edge" and "tail" or bottom may also be cut by hand, but it is a tiresome process, and can be done better on a cutting machine in a bindery.

This requires folded endsheets (also called paste-downs) which are twice the size of the book-page, with the fold placed at the back toward the spine.  They should be glued using a rub-on contact cement (so as not to warp pages), either along the back edge (in case printing would be covered up) or over the whole area (if the front-page of the text-block is blank).

Step 3:  Gluing on the hinge-cloth:

The Cloth hinge should be some non-stretch, stiff cotton or linen cloth, strong but not prone to distortion.  This will be the item (when glued later to the stiff outer boards) that holds on the covers and gives strength to the hinges. It should extend almost to the top and bottom of the text block, and should overlap the endsheets (now glued onto the textblock) by an inch or two.
Binding periodicals: Image 1
Step 3:  Adding a hinge-cloth

Binding periodicals: Image 2
Step 4:  Glue on stiff cover-board
Binding periodicals: Image 3
Step 5:  Glue on  final Spine Cloth (or leather)

Most periodicals produced today are not in signature form and cannot be sewn through the section folds. The only practical way to avoid inflexible, through-the-surface sewing methods is through the use of double-fan adhesive binding, in which single leaves are fanned mechanically in both directions, and an adhesive line of 0.5 millimeters is applied between each leaf. Owing to the cost of the machinery required, commercial binders in developing countries often fan leaves by hand.

The appropriate binding for adhesive structures is a flat-backed, flush construction, with binders' boards glued directly onto the outside of the endpapers about 1 centimeter from the back edge. The backbone is lined with kraft or wrapping paper, and a piece of pre-lettered book cloth is glued directly on top of the backbone extending approximately 6 centimeters onto the boards. The bound volume is lightly trimmed to level the edges.
This form of binding is inexpensive and dimensionally stable (it cannot sag on the shelf). Periodicals may be bound in the library with minimal equipment and easily opened.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Even Roman Catholic Scholars are dumping the UBS text

Ron Conte Jr. this summer completed an evaluation of the UBS text and its negative impact on the NV (New Vulgate) Latin edition.   He lists several key points online here:

 "I was dismayed and appalled by the decisions of the editors of the Nova Vulgata, especially to abandon the Latin scriptural tradition approved by the Council of Trent, and adopt in its place the critical Greek text of Matthew by the (Protestant) United Bible Societies. The UBS text, and the NV as well, omits over one hundred words from the Gospel, found in the Latin Vulgate, includes at least a couple of whole verses.

See the article for more critical comments about the NV.

Problems with the Nova Vulgata (NV):
1. the NV abandons the Latin scriptural tradition

2. the New Testament is simply a representation of the Protestant UBS (United Bible Societies) Greek text

3. the New Testament ignores all Latin and all Greek sources, other than the UBS text, which is mainly the work of Protestant scholars

4. the NV changes the wording in some verses out of political correctness, without any support in any manuscripts for those changes

5. the Latin scriptural tradition is supposed to be used by Bible scholars to settle any uncertain or disputed readings of the text in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. But since the NV does not represent the Latin scriptural tradition, but instead represents the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, it is not useful for that purpose

6. The Council of Trent declared that the Canon of Scripture includes all the parts of each book as found in the old Latin vulgate Bible (the Latin scriptural tradition). But the NV rejects the Latin scriptural tradition, and removes from the Canon very many words and phrases, as well as more than a few entire verses.

7. The NV relies on the Protestant Stuttgart Vulgate for its base text, ignoring the Pope Sixtus V and Pope Clement VIII Vulgate which was used by the Church for several hundred years as the official Latin Bible.

8. The only version of the NV contains hundreds of typographical errors.

9. The New Testament of the NV shows an appalling lack of editorial discretion. The Latin text is forced to conform to the Greek UBS text even when this makes the Latin text awkward or grammatically incorrect. Editorial decisions other than merely changing the Latin to conform lock step with the Greek are rare."

Its clear that some honest Roman Catholic scholars at least have noted in detail exactly what is wrong with the UBS text, and the devastating impact on Bible texts and translations it has had for the last 50 years.

Conte uses the following abbreviations:

CV - Clementine Vulgate
NV - Nova Vulgata from
FS - Fischers Stuttgart edition (1975)
TR - Textus Receptus
MT - Majority Text (Hodges/Farstad, 1982)
UBS - 4th ed. 1993

Among the many flaws of the UBS text, Conte lists the following homoeoteleuton errors in UBS erroneously followed by the editors of the NV (new Vulgate version):


5:44 - NV omits 'do good to those who hate you', also omits 'and slander you', in accord with UBS, contrary to CV, FS, TR, MT.

 12:47 - NV changes 'seeking you' to 'seeking to speak with you', in accord with the Greek.

 15:6 - NV omits 'or his mother' and changes 'commandment of God' to 'word of God' in accord with UBS Greek, contrary (on both points) to CV, FS, TR, MT.

15:8 -   Again, it is clear that the NV rephrases the Vulgate to agree with the UBS Greek, even when the TR and MT agree with the Latin. There is a basis in both the Latin and Greek scriptural traditions to retain the Vulgate wording, and yet it is cast aside, making the NV a Latin version of the UBS Greek. The result is not very useful, since if a scholar wants to consult the UBS text, he would certainly prefer to look at the Greek text itself, rather than a Latin rendering of it. 
"Also, ...   the NV departs from the Latin scriptural tradition, substituting the Greek wording of the UBS text, so that the decision of Trent on the place that the Latin text has in the Church cannot be applied to the NV."

"The reader may also have noticed by now that the Stuttgart text in Latin does not usually edit the CV to conform to the Greek. Rather, the Stuttgart text (FS) is a moderate edit of the Vulgate. The editors of FS Matthew clearly had in mind to keep to the Latin scriptural tradition, or at least to recapture the essence of Saint Jerome's Latin Vulgate. Their editorial decisions in Matthew have kept the Latin text distinct from the Greek text, like two different co-equal witnesses to the truth of the Gospel. By comparison, the Nova Vulgata has subjugated the Latin scriptural tradition entirely to the Greek, like a slave to a master. The Stuttgart edit is what the Nova Vulgata should have been."

18:11 -  NV omits verse 11, in accord with UBS, contrary to CV, FS, TR, MT.

20:16 -  NV omits 'For many are called, but few are chosen' in accord with UBS, contrary to CV, FS, TR, MT.

 23:14 - NV and FS omit verse 14, in accord with UBS, contrary to CV, FS, TR, MT. ( MT has verses 13 and 14 transposed.)

 26:3 - NV changes the Latin word 'atrium' to the word 'aulam' (a Latin word derived from Greek), in accord with the Greek text.

27:35 - NV and FS omit the portion of the verse stating that this event of dividing his garments fulfills the prophecy of the Old Testament, in accord with UBS and MT, but contrary to CV and TR.

 The NV would be no worse in its text if the project had been done by the Protestant scholars at the UBS. In fact, the FS is the work of a group of mostly Protestant scholars at the German Bible Society, and even they have seen fit to retain the CV test of Matthew in the vast majority of cases. So a group of Protestant scholars has created a Latin Bible, the Stuttgart edition of the Vulgate, which retains the Latin scriptural tradition and which generally follows the CV reading. But a group of Catholic monks, at a Benedictine monastery -- a monastery associated in past times with Saint Jerome---, who were given the task of updating the CV, have completely abandoned the Latin scriptural tradition, and have caused the NV to conform slavishly and unthinkingly solely to the Protestant UBS Greek text. If I did not know better, I would conclude that the monks of that monastery were Protestants, and that the editors of the FS were Catholics."

 Final Comments

" ...The Greek critical text of the United Bible Societies has the indisputable advantage of making the entire Bible thinner, lighter, and less expensive to publish. But the Latin and the other Greek texts have the advantage of not deleting words from inspired and inerrant Divine Revelation. The reader will have to decide for himself which advantage is to be preferred.

While it is certainly true that we must never add words to Sacred Scripture, we are also morally obligated not to delete words from Sacred Scripture."

 - exerpted from Problems with the NV in Matthew,  
Ronald L. Conte Jr. (June 18, 2010)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Revelation for Dummies (3)

Last month we posted the following diagram, expanding a section of the last 2,000 years (ongoing):
Click to enlarge

Today I want to expand a little on a critical section here, before moving onto the next historical period, namely the Latin Golden Age:

Latin Literary Golden Age: Click to Enlarge
Here we can see the underground Christian movement expanding rapidly across the Roman Empire, first in the common Greek language, then early in the 2nd century being translated into Latin.  The early Latin writers were articulate, strong and daring, and as a result, many of the Romans, particularly, the lower and middle classes, servants, slaves, soldiers and artisans were converted to the new faith.   Christians became so numerous that Emperor Constantine wisely legalized Christianity and effectively ended persecutions against Christians.

During this early time there were many prolific and intelligent Christian apologists.  By about 320 A.D. it is estimated that there were about 1,200 Christian bishops spread across the Empire.  We may assume there were at least as many copies of the New Testament writings in various forms and languages by the mid 4th century.

All Latin copies of the NT in use between 200 and 400 A.D. would however be variations of the Old Latin version, early independent translations made by Christians for use by the Romans and other Latin-speaking peoples within the Empire.   The Latin Vulgate NT of Jerome (c. 392 A.D.) had not been made yet nor adopted by the West.  This only happened at the very end of the Western Literary Golden Age (200-420 A.D.).

Yet the Latin Golden Age quickly came to an end, as Emperor Constantine moved his central capital and economic base to Constantinople in the East, effectively abandoning Rome and the West.   This led to a long period of continual anarchy and warfare in the West, with Rome itself being sacked by barbarians several times.   
The original Roman Empire and Rome was essentially looted and gutted, leaving only a crippled husk of the original Empire.   This was prophetic, poetic, and effective justice for Rome's long legacy of violence and persecution, especially of Christian martyrs.

(to be continued...)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Does Inerrancy imply Fixed Word-order?

‘One set of words in one set order is the Bible.’

What doesn’t appear to have been openly addressed in the discussion so far, is the source for this idea, and its implications for any theory regarding the original autographs.
If we believe in the inerrancy and precision of the original autographs, then the idea of a specific and unique word-order is inevitable, both historically – (a) Evangelist X and Apostle Y wrote or dictated specific words in a specific order at a specific time and place, and objectively – (b) The revealed word of God is stable and fixed for any reasonable time and place and language, and does not and should not require any re-ordering, word-substitution, or reorganization (i.e., it is ‘complete’ and ‘perfect’ in itself, and sufficient as given).
When these two necessary premises are seen as statements about the nature and objective reality of an original and initial revelation in a spoken and written (NT) Holy scripture, and their implications followed to their logical conclusion, we get a few more basic observations and perhaps even axioms:
(1) Although similar ideas can be expressed in different words, expressions, and idioms, God has chosen a specific expression for His revelation in 1st century Greek, and this was and remains adequate and complete for its purpose and task.
(2) In the first century, although God did give and empower translation into other languages (i.e., Pentecost), He gave no further instructions to modify or alter the expressions given through His apostles and evangelists, or suggestions, beyond oral preaching of the message as each was able.
(3) The early Church also was strongly aware of the dangers of paraphrase, and editing to the core Gospel message, and ultimately rejected “harmonies” of the Gospels like Tatian’s as replacements for the original written gospels. The impulse of the Holy Spirit was always conservative, preserving what went on before, and not replacing either OT or NT documents with innovations.
(4) Translations likewise should always then be based on the originals, and once made in a competent and sufficient manner, they ought to be left in their chosen form, so as not to unnecessarily multiply confusion or doubt as to statements in Holy Scripture meant to be taken at face-value.
From this perspective, the idea of a ‘fixed’ word-order and means of expression for an authoritative NT in any language is a normal and reasonable development of what has taken place historically and in light of early church practice.
This doesn’t require ‘demonization’ of other translations or arrangements or idiomatic expression, but only that these be left in their own place, in the hands of oral preachers and teachers, meeting the needs of those without the educational background to fully absorb the traditional text.