Thursday, January 22, 2009

Not nestled in a brass lamp ... (Mat. 12)

Ottoman Turkish (Osmanlı) was one of the few languages in the world with a vocabulary as large as we English speakers enjoy. Like English, Osmanlı was a "shotgun wedding" of contrasting linguistic families. The core, those 20% or so of the words you use 80% of the time, were from the Ural-Altaic family. For literature and poetry, Osmanlı relied heavily upon Persian-derived words. Farsi is an Indo-European language. Religious and legal terms came from Arabic, a semetic language. Despite the efforts of Ataturk's language reformers, a number of the older words are still in circulation. Saat (hour) and kitap (book), for example.

Today's word, from the Arabic, is cin. English speakers recognize djinn and geni. This is a spiritual being, a powerful one of malevolent character that must be handled with care, if at all.

First-century Israel was conversant with the care and handling of cinler. In fact, there were professional exorcists who traveled around performing rituals that were intended to grant relief to the sufferers of demonic possession. Some of you may have seen the depressing Linda Blair movie The Exorcist which presented the process as frantic, desperate, and ritualistic.

When Jesus came along expelling demons with a word of command, this gave his enemies yet one more reason to complain. If demons were docile in his presence, didn't that prove that he was really on their side?
Eğer ben cinleri Beelzebub'un gücüyle kovuyorsam, sizin adamlarınız cinleri kimin gücüyle kovuyorlar? Sizi bu durumda kendi adamlarınız yargılacak. Ama be cinleri Tanrı'nın Ruhuyla kovuyorsam, Tantrı'nın Egemenliği üzerinize gelmiş demektir.
And, a few more words.
  • gücüyle -- with the power of. güç (power) + üy (direct object of possessive) + le (with)
  • kovmak -- drive out. kovuyorsam -- If I drive out. kov (stem) + uyor (first personal singular present) + sam (subjunctive)
Oh, yes. Jesus was not the only exorcist around. Merely the most effective one. Exorcism is still practiced among Christians, by the way. Rarely with the pomp and pagentry the movie would lead you to expect. Being able to pray, and command demons, in the name of Jesus is like having the right to sign checks using the name of one who has unlimited wealth.

During the time of his earthly ministry, Jesus swept much evil out of the life of his nation. After his exit, however, because of the stubborness of the nation in its unbelief, the forces of spiritual evil returned, with a vengeance.

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