Friday, February 10, 2012

Chartsubbah ... the bands or pains of death or hell

In Alma 5:7, Alma the Younger quotes the late prophet Abinadi, in speaking of a people "encircled about by the bands of death." "Bands" in such a figurative sense never appears in the New Testament but does in the Old, reducing the probability that this is an anachronistic borrowing by the Prophet Joseph. Something interesting about the Hebrew word that is translated as "bands" figuratively in the Old Testament: it is chartsubbah, and in a figurative sense, it can also mean "pains."

Thus, the KJV of Psalms 73:4, lamenting the prosperity of the wicked, says that "there are no bands in their death." Which doesn't make much sense unless you understand the above, which the KJV translators may have missed. My Hebrew Tanakh has "pangs" rather than "bands."

So whatever word Alma the Younger or Abinadi used that was translated "bands", if it was originally some form of chartsubbah, could also have been have been translated "pains." And a brief look at the writings of Alma the Younger shows that he may have written of spiritual pains more than any other writer in the Book of Mormon, and how they encircled persons, and how persons were loosed from them -- seeming to me to indicate a strong familiarity with the concept of "chartsubbah."

When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done?

There is no new thing under the sun, said Ecclesiastes. Truly he spake. At some point in the restoration of the Church, some Mormon said, "When the Prophet speaks, the thinking has been done." Critics of the Church have never forgotten nor forgiven. It is as if that presumptuous soul invented out of whole cloth some loathsome new cultish doctrine.

This morning, I began to read Anne Fremantle's The Age of Belief, a collection of writings and commentary on early Christian philosophers. Lo and behold, Ms. Freemantle makes the observation that the early Christian Church veered between two poles of belief:

"From apostolic times on, there were two fairly well-defined Christian positions: the deliberately, and aggressively, anti-intellectual, whose supporters argued that since God has spoken to us, it is no longer necessary for us to think, and a more orthodox, but minority, position that whatever is true or good is ours."

She puts the likes of Tertullian in the former camp; Augustine in the latter.

It is perhaps human nature as we contemplate spiritual things, for these two positions to take shape. There is no new thing under the sun. We Mormons are heirs to the same human nature as the rest of our Christian brethren.

Incidentally, the life of Ms. Freemantle appears to have been a fascinating one. Read more here:

Friday, February 3, 2012

The world of the grape

Wine drinkers have always had their regional favorites, their special lingo ... It tastes of roses with a hint of hay, they say ... The rest of us drank our grape juice and said, It tastes ... like grapes. That is changing now ... Enter artisanal grape juice. We can now savor the "flavor characteristics of each grape variety." Or at least those of us, which excludes me, able and willing to pay $10 a bottle.​news/virginia-news/2012/jan/16/​tdmet04-oakencroft-shifts-from-​wine-to-premium-gra-ar-1614211​/