Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Acts 26 -- a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down ...

Robert A. Heinlein was an influential writer of a half-century ago. He turned his back upon the God of his Baptist family at the age of 13, upon discovering Charles Darwin's alternate reality. The character and discipline of the faith he was raised in continued to influence his thinking and writing until the late 1960s, when the restrained perversion and narcissism were finally unleashed.[1] When he wanted to lecture his readers on the libertarian politics of his current wife,[2] he wrote The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. One of the central characters is full of wise aphorisms. When Heinlein wished to expound at length, he put this character in a classroom, giving a lecture.

Someone has argued that the twin books of Luke's Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles comprise a single legal brief, prepared for Paul's trial at Rome. Much of Acts consists of narrative, anecdotes strung together in a carefully chronological order. From time to time, however, Luke inserts a major sermon. This chapter is almost completely taken up with one of those addresses. The stage is set -- visiting dignitaries want to hear this famed and eloquent prisoner. He stands up and delivers his presentation, complete with a challenge to the hearers then, and the readers now:
Act 26:22 Ama bugüne dek Tanrı yardımcım oldu. Bu sayede burada duruyor, büyük küçük herkese tanıklık ediyorum. Benim söylediklerim, peygamberlerin ve Musa'nın önceden haber verdiği olaylardan başka bir şey değildir.
Act 26:23 Onlar, Mesih'in acı çekeceğini ve ölümden dirilenlerin ilki olarak gerek kendi halkına, gerek öteki uluslara ışığın doğuşunu ilan edeceğini bildirmişlerdi."
Act 26:24 Pavlus bu şekilde savunmasını sürdürürken Festus yüksek sesle, "Pavlus, çıldırmışsın sen! Çok okumak seni delirtiyor!" dedi.
Act 26:25 Pavlus, "Sayın Festus" dedi, "Ben çıldırmış değilim. Gerçek ve akla uygun sözler söylüyorum.
Act 26:26 Kral bu konularda bilgili olduğu için kendisiyle çekinmeden konuşuyorum. Bu olaylardan hiçbirinin onun dikkatinden kaçmadığı kanısındayım. Çünkü bunlar ücra bir köşede yapılmış işler değildir.
Act 26:27 Kral Agrippa, sen peygamberlerin sözlerine inanıyor musun? İnandığını biliyorum."
Act 26:28 Agrippa Pavlus'a şöyle dedi: "Bu kadar kısa bir sürede beni ikna edip Mesihçi mi yapacaksın?"
Act 26:29 "İster kısa ister uzun sürede olsun" dedi Pavlus, "Tanrı'dan dilerim ki yalnız sen değil, bugün beni dinleyen herkes, bu zincirler dışında benim gibi olsun!"
Festus, the Roman governor exclaims, "Paul, you're crazy! Too much knowledge has driven you mad!" Paul replies, "Sayın Festus, Ben çıldırmış değilim. Gerçek ve akla uygun sözler söylüyorum. "O noble Festus, I mad am not. True and / conceivable. palatable. reasonable. sensible. (akla uygun) / words I speak."

Paul then turns his attention to the visiting minor king: Kral Agrippa, sen peygamberlerin sözlerine inanıyor musun? King Agrippa, you / of the prophets / the words / believe / do you not?

These events did not, as Paul explained, happen "in a corner." Or, as the Greek has it, ἐν γωνίᾳ: in a corner.[3] The resurrection of Jesus was something everyone in Israel knew about. Most of them tried hard not to think about it. They were a lot like Agrippa. A lot like us.[4]


[1] If that sentence were an equation, or perhaps SQL statement, it would have at least three parenthetical expressions: (character + discipline ) ... (thinking + writing ) ... (perversion + narcissism ). In English, we find it easy and natural to use coordinating conjunctions. Lots of and statements. Other languages, such as Greek, prefer to array phrases in elegant hierarchical structures, using subordinating conjunctions.

[2] It was Isaac Asimov who said that Heinlein's politics depended on who he was married to at the moment.

[3] A triangle has three gonia. A dia-gonal line runs through opposite gonia.

[4] If there was a single button in the universe that fallen man could press to shut out the knowledge of God, that is is the one button he would press continuously. So wrote Cornelius Van Til, a grimly realistic American thinker.

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