Sunday, November 8, 2009

Salonika 1 -- a happening place

Winston Churchill, that maker of memorable phrases, described the tragedy of the Balkans thus: "a place that produces more history than can be consumed locally." Salonika has always been a happening place, to use the old hippy phrase. It's at the grinding edge of multiple cultures. In the late 19th century, Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, began his military education there. 

I'm still working on a dissertation that examines Atatürk's Nutuk (Six Day Speech). It's a persuasive document, that uses all three of the primary colors of discourse Aristotle analyzed so tediously in his handbook on Rhetoric. There is logos, the appeal to rationality. There is pathos, the appeal to the emotions. Most convincing, however, is ethos -- the attraction of the speaker's character. Atatürk strode through history as a larger-than-life figure, who earned the right to shape his nation's destiny by his heroic deeds. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer, is said to travel with a "reality-distortion sphere." When he turns it on, those around him find themselve fascinated by his compelling vision. Atatürk apparently had the same effect on those around him. To this day, traffic stops once a year as a grateful nation remembers the month, day, hour, and minute of his death. 

As Paul begins to address the new Christians in Salonika, he appeals to ethos:

    1Th 1:5 Çünkü yaydığımız Müjde size yalnız sözle değil, kudretle, Kutsal Ruh'la ve büyük güvenle ulaştı. Nitekim aranızdayken sizin yararınıza nasıl yaşadığımızı bilirsiniz. 
Let's look at a few words:

  • yalnız sözle değil -- not only / with words / not
  • kudretle -- but with power
  • Kutsal Ruh'la -- and with the Holy Spirit
  • ve büyük güvenle -- and / great / assurance, confidence with
  • Nitekim -- because
  • aranızdayken -- while we were among
  • sizin yararınıza -- you / next to we were
  • nasıl yaşadığımızı bilirsiniz. -- how / our lives (were lived) / you know.
Paul had just been thoroughly beaten at his last place of ministry, Philippi. Yet his courage in proclaiming his good news in Salonika had raised up an energetic congregation that also became examples to the surrounding cities. Heros beget heros. Nobility inspires nobility. Modern Turkey is largely the shadow of one man's life. The Christian message owes much to the life and work and heroism of Paul.

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