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Nov 2, 2013 Corydon commented on Basically, There's No Elegant Way to Use "Deck the Halls" Anymore.
Huh...I always figured the song was about putting on the leather and grabbing some prickly holly branches to use on the boy. You mean there's another meaning?
Oct 27, 2013 Corydon commented on Slog Bible Study: Psalm 82:1.
Josephus wrote the Jewish Antiquities around 90 or so. That's about 60 years after the Crucifixion, or the same as one of us writing about stuff that happened in the '50s.

Bear in mind that, just as you or I would have sources we could turn to if we were writing about Eisenhower, so too did Josephus have his sources. He would have known people who were alive during Jesus's lifetime. Perhaps even people involved with the execution (he was an aristocrat, as were the members of the priestly class in Jerusalem).

Plus, like Tacitus or Livy or other historians of the era we do have access to, he'd also have access to other written documents that have since been lost. It's extremely common for classical sources to have references to other works that are's the main way we know something of the shapes of the gaps in our knowledge.
Oct 27, 2013 Corydon commented on Slog Bible Study: Psalm 82:1.
@95, sorry, as far as historical "facts" go, that's all you get.

And that's not just in relation to Jesus. You're basically making the argument that the overwhelming majority of the history that exists prior to the invention of the printing press is worthless.

Incidentally, that includes written sources where the author writes about himself or people he knew personally. Because we don't actually have original manuscripts penned by the authors themselves, but only copies of copies of copies, sometimes written by illiterate scribes, often filled with errors and interpolations. We have later texts falsely attributed to earlier writers in order to give them a patina of authority. We have a myriad of textual problems to tease through and precious little material to tease, which is why the discovery of even scraps of text is cause for delight.

Basically, the level of proof you're asking for does not exist. For anyone or anything in the period. You either accept that fact and do the best you can with what you have (which is what professional historians of the era do, and they almost universally accept the idea of a historical person named Jesus, if not the religious stories of the Gospels) or you declare, like Henry Ford, that it's all bunk.
Oct 27, 2013 Corydon commented on Slog Bible Study: Psalm 82:1.
@69, the Romans may have been "meticulous record keepers" but they weren't that meticulous, especially about people who weren't Roman citizens out on the edges of the Empire. There was no Roman Social Security Agency.

Look, when you study classical history, one of the very first things you learn is not just how much has been lost, but how much wasn't even written down. You get hints and scraps of things from second- and third- hand sources.

Take something noncontroversial. Was there a Lucius Junius Brutus who fought the last king of Rome and founded the Republic? Historians generally accept his existence as factual, even if the details of his history are somewhat fanciful.

Yet our first written source for his life is in Livy, writing some 500 years after the fact.

You can dispute the existence of a historical Jesus on the paucity of the evidence if you like, but if you do, you pretty much have to throw out almost the entire field of history.
Oct 27, 2013 Corydon commented on Slog Bible Study: Psalm 82:1.
They haven't got any. Literally none.

I think perhaps you don't have much of a feel for just how much (or rather how little) we know about anyone from antiquity.

I understand there is an aversion to using the Gospels as a historical source, considering how intimately they are bound up with the religion the grew from them. Nevertheless, they are an attestation to the existence of a living person named Jesus, with the earliest of them (Mark) dating to about 30-40 years after the Crucifixion.

If you reject Christian authors, there is the mention by Flavius Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews (ca. 90) and Tacitus' Annals (ca. 116). There are references to the existence of an early Christian cult in Rome during the reigns of Claudius and Nero in Suetonius (writing 122).

That's not "literally none." It may not be enough for you, but as far as classical attestation to the existence of almost anyone goes, it's actually pretty damn good.
Oct 27, 2013 Corydon commented on Slog Bible Study: Psalm 82:1.
@49 A militant Buddhist! I love it...

Still, I'd ask, how do you know it's all an illusion?

And if it is all an illusion, then why does arguing about it matter?
Oct 27, 2013 Corydon commented on Slog Bible Study: Psalm 82:1.
@45 What is truth? The older I get, the less sure of it I become.
Oct 27, 2013 Corydon commented on Slog Bible Study: Psalm 82:1.
I've checked the Vulgate and the LXX (unfortunately, my education is deficient when it comes to Hebrew so that's as close to the original as I can get).

Deus stetit in synagoga deorum in medio autem Deus deiudicat

ὁ θεὸς ἔστη ἐν συναγωγῇ θεῶν ἐν μέσῳ δὲ θεοὺς διακρίνει

Both the Latin and Greek are structurally very similar (which shouldn't surprise; St. Jerome would have been using the LXX as his primary reference). Both refer to a "synagogue" of gods. I don't believe that's meant as a reference to a Jewish house of worship; although synagogues would have been extant in Jerome's time. Rather, it's a Greek word referring to a place where people are "brought together", i.e. a meeting place. The conference room in your office might have been called a "synagogue" in Koine Greek.

So the translation looks pretty good to me, so far as my own skills go.

It seems to me there are two things going on here to consider.

First, the Tanakh (it's always struck me as rather disrespectful to refer to the Jewish Scriptures as the Old Testament) in many places seems quite prepared to admit to the existence of other gods. It does not deny them, but merely states that the Lord supersedes them. This psalm would appear to adopt that point of view.

This interpretation has entered into modern Christian theology not in the sense that people actually worship Ba'al or Osiris or Jupiter or what have you, but rather build their lives around money or sex or family or politics or some other facet of life. This sort of thinking is even useful for atheists, in the sense that it encourages you to think about what is essential and what is a distraction.

But the other thought is that the ancient world did indeed have people who were gods. Some formally so (think of the Pharoahs). But all of us have gods, entities who hold power over us, we must propitiate in order to make our way through life. Consider how you've go to suck up to your boss at work. Or how the bank needs its monthly "sacrifice" or else it will take your home.

This psalm reminds those lesser gods not to get above themselves too. They must act with justice, but also with mercy and compassion for the weak and poor. Something to bear in mind next time you are given authority over someone else.
Oct 24, 2013 Corydon commented on SL Letter of the Day: Fresh Wrappers.
It would be really useful if someone could put together a list of sex acts and an actual numerical probability of transmitting an STI.

Obviously, this sort of thing would vary from person to person and situation to situation, but something along the lines of describing relative risks in terms of orders of magnitude would help people make informed choices. For example (pulling numbers right out of my ass), what are your odds of HIV transmission if you're getting fucked by someone who's HIV+ and wearing a condom? !:100? 1:1000? 1:10.000? 1:100,000? 1:1,000,000? How does that compare to unsafe sex? Or oral sex? What about other STIs?

It would also be very useful to have a discussion about how things like multiple sex partners, HIV and other STI prevalence in your geographical area, the population your partner(s) are coming from, etc., etc. all affect those probabilities.

In short, it's not enough to say "this act is unsafe and that act is safe (or safer)". That doesn't give people enough information to make informed decisions. On the contrary, it substitutes someone else's risk assessment for your own. Hardly empowering.

If you're going to encourage people to act in ways that affect their risk, it seems to me that it's incumbent upon you to give them the best information you can to make their own, informed risk assessment.
Oct 21, 2013 Corydon commented on All of Mayor McGinn's Reddit Answers In One Place.
If I lived in Seattle, the mere fact that Comcast was heavily backing one candidate would severely prejudice me against him.

I'm speaking as a former Comcast employee too. During my time there, I acquainted myself with the telecommunications industry as a matter of professional interest. What I learned was that my employer (among others interested in the duopoly situation found around the US) was actively holding the US back. I became a strong supporter of municipal fiber initiatives as a result.

The crap they pull with cable TV (not wholly their fault as an MSO, "content providers", of which Comcast is increasingly one of the largest, are also to blame) is just the icing on the cake of Comcast's evil.

(And no, all the "Xfinity" rebranding in the world won't help change my opinion)


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