Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"It Found Me"

I was sitting and drooling the other day when I came upon a shocking realization.

I suppose I should explain the drooling part. I was at work, taking a break in the nursing station, fooling around on Amazon.com. And their automatic cross-referencing system took me to a new critical edition of the Greek text of the New Testament following the Byzantine text-type. I clicked on it and went to the page. Without realizing it, I was transported out of the nursing station, away from my near-sitting co-workers, into the cloud land in my head where I spend most of my time.

I was immediately taken with the beautiful cover. Being a printer by trade, I am attracted to beautiful printing. And on the cover was a nice reproduction of a papyrus fragment of a New Testament Greek manuscript. I was also taken by this.

I clicked on the “Look inside!” feature. I read through the table of contents, all in Uncial letters, which I find difficult to read. I was interested in the arrangement of the books with the Gospels, followed by Acts, then the catholic epistles, which is not our accustomed order, then the Pauline epistles, then Revelation. I flipped to the first page of Matthew and read through the geneology. I was interested in the presentation of some orthographic details that have interested me in this passage.

I was lost in it. If one of my patients had coded, I don’t think I would have known it. The orthography, and the classical type-font, unlike these modern utilitarian sans-serif Greek fonts that are so unlovely, and the critical apparatus at the bottom of the page -- all these details held me, like Solomon beholding his beloved Shunamite, drooling.

I became aware that I was attracting the attention of my co-workers. I had been mmmm-ing, and laughing, and ooooooh-ing. They wanted to know what I was so interested in. Their little clatter came into the periphery of my attention, and then I edged it out. I read on.

I clicked to turn the page and began to read chapter two. And there -- lying in wait for me -- was a statement I have read hundreds of times. But, as my attention was drawn away from seeing what one is accustomed to seeing in a familiar text, a word suddenly pounced on me. I was off balance, then overcome, then enthralled with this word in its setting. “The generation of Jesus Christ was like this: His mother, having been bethrothed to Joseph, before they came together, was found to be pregnant by the Holy Ghost.”

“Found” -- “found” -- The Greek word is from the verb root eurisko. And thereby, as my father used to say, hangs a tale.

You remember (or not -- so I will tell you) the story of Archimedes and the gold crown. Some time in the third century B.C. (I think) a Greek king, whose name escapes me, gave the local crown maker a hunk of gold to make a crown. After he got the crown back, he got wind that the crown maker had substituted some silver into the crown, and had kept the surplus of gold for himself. But how to detect the theft? Simple: ask Archimedes, the local Thomas Edison of this time, to look into it.

Archimedes thought and thought about how to determine if the crown was pure or an alloy. He searched and sought and figured. Then one day while taking a bath, the solution occured to him. You can read it for yourself on the internet. But, upon realizing the solution, he jumped out of the tub and rushed home, clad only in his birthday suit, shouting “Eurika! Eurika!” Eurika is the perfect tense of our verb root above, eurisko, which means I find. He was saying “I have found it.”
This word found is specific in meaning. It means to find something after seeking, investigating, searching, interrogating. It is scientific in nature.

This statement, “she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Ghost” is pregnant with meaning.

And, while I was not paying attention, it found me.

But this post has gone on long enough. I will talk more about this in the next one, which I will probably post tomorrow.

1 comment:

John Cowart said...

This is really cool!
Next time you post, how about supplying a link to see this cover?