Friday, February 11, 2005
Eyes and Ears
Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.Ezekiel 12.2:
Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.Mark 8.18:
Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?See also Isaiah 6.9-10 (quoted by Matthew 13.13-15, John 12.40, Acts 28.26-27, and Romans 11.8), Mark 4.11-12 and 8.18, Luke 8.10, and John 9.39-41.
This paradox of unseeing eyes and unhearing ears was also proverbial in Greek, as [Demosthenes] 25.89 (tr. J.H. Vince) makes clear:
As the saying runs, "seeing, they see not; hearing, do not hear."Here are some similar passages:
- Heraclitus, fragment 34 Diels (tr. Kathleen Freeman): Not understanding, although they have heard, they are like the deaf.
- Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1623: Seeing these things, do you not see?
- Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 447-448 (tr. Herbert Weir Smyth): First of all, though they had eyes to see, they saw to no avail; they had ears, but understood not.
- Sophocles, Oedipus the King 412-414 (Tiresias to Oedipus, tr. Hugh Lloyd-Jones): And I say, since you have reproached me with my blindness, that you have sight, but cannot see what trouble you are in, nor where you are living, nor with whom you share your home.
It is a good thing also to pretend not to know of some shortcomings, and to turn the old man's dull eye and dull ear to what they do, and seeing, not to see, and hearing, not to hear, sometimes, what goes on.