Showing posts from September, 2014

Jerome, Translator of the Scriptures, Teacher

Some years ago in a conversation with someone I thought was well educated I was astonished to discover his belief that the Holy Bible was originally written in English (Shakespearean English at that.) Having spent a while helping him untangle that one I then found myself telling him that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish man and not an Englishman as he thought.

That is the first thing that came to mind as I thought about St Jerome. Jerome is the one shown in this image busily working on a translation of scripture, or perhaps one of his many Biblical commentaries or letters.

When the Christian church began the common language of the Roman Empire was Greek. That is why the books of the New Testament were originally written in Greek. As Jewish people were dispersed widely, many no longer understood Hebrew, so the books of the Old Testament were translated from their original Hebrew into Greek. What is widely understandable in one generation soon becomes incomprehensible in another. Enter Jero…


Michaelmas Day today and our garden is ablaze with rather too many tall Michaelmas daisies. I must thin them out a bit this winter. Our bee-keeping neighbour is grateful for them because the bees love them and the variety of flowers in full bloom are few at this summer to autumn turn of the year. So - not too much thinning - bees are essential.

In the Christian Calendar this is the Feast of Michael and All Angels - hence 'Michaelmas'. This is the only feast dedicated to angels that the Church of England did not discard at the reformation. One reason to keep this feast is its reminder that we humans are not the top of beings created by God. Come to think of it, given how flawed we are, surely God must have created something better? Something more awe-inspiring and powerful like angels and archangels? It is interesting that a tradition of angels is strong in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Yes, all 3 mono-theistic religions come from the same root, but belief in angels whether l…

War against IS: where will it end?

Like many people I feel torn about military action in an attempt to defeat IS. How will that work? where will it end?
I'm not a full-blown pacifist though my natural inclination is towards pacifism and peace-making. I prefer words to fights. I do not accept the so-called Christian concept of a 'just war'. I do think that occasionally as a last resort war can be justified as a lesser evil when faced with a greater evil. Some brutal people and ideologies cannot be reasoned with and only understand violence. So I am reluctantly in support of the decision the UK government took yesterday with overwhelming Parliamentary support. The UK is now giving limited air-strike (bombing) support to the mission in which the US is already engaged in Iraq in an attempt to halt IS control of parts of that suffering land. Perhaps it will help, but peace-loving civilians will inevitably die in the process.
Where will it end? Does violence ever actually end violence or just serve to breed more vi…

Pointing Fingers on St Matthew's Day

People struggling with poverty and debt might well point accusing fingers at people like Matthew the tax collector. Tax collectors in 1st Century Palestine had ample opportunity to profit by cheating and charging extortionate commission.

In this 17th century painting of the Calling of St Matthew by Hendrick ter Brugghen accusing fingers seem absent, although there fingers do point from 5 different hands. Matthew's left hand points to his accounts. His right hand points towards himself. The young man at his left points to a pile of money. The seated older man points to another pile of money. On the left is Jesus, partly in shadow pointing directly to Matthew as he and Matthew make eye contact. Matthew is the only person in the picture looking at Jesus. There seems to be a struggle going on - a tension between the focus on money and accounts and a conflicting priority emerging within Matthew as a result of his encounter with Jesus. It's a pivotal decision moment - to carry on wit…

Hildegard of Bingen: her music with modern nature photos