Thursday, January 29, 2009



Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods 2.6 (tr. Francis Brooks):
The voices of the Fauns have often been heard, and the forms of the gods been seen, forcing the man who was neither destitute of perception, nor impious, to acknowledge the presence of divinity.

saepe Faunorum voces exauditae, saepe visae formae deorum quemvis aut non hebetem aut impium deos praesentes esse confiteri coegerunt.
Gods manifest themselves to humans primarily through the senses of hearing and sight. There is a curious combination of the two in Revelation 1.12 (tr. David E. Aune):
Then I turned to see the voice speaking to me.

Καὶ ἐπέστρεψα βλέπειν τὴν φωνὴν ἥτις ἐλάλει μετ’ ἐμοῦ.
From a psychological perspective, this brings to mind the phenomenon of synesthesia.

In his excellent commentary, Revelation 1-5 (Dallas: Word Books, 1997), p. 87-88 (at p. 87), Aune asks the obvious question, "How is is possible to 'see' a voice?" Among the parallels he cites are two from the Septuagint, in which the same Greek word for voice or sound is the object of a verb of seeing: Exodus 20.18 (καὶ πᾶς ὁ λάος ἑώρα τὴν φωνήν = "and all the people saw the sound") and Daniel 7.11 (ἐθεώρουν τότε τὴν φωνήν = "then I beheld the voice").

I noticed a few minor misprints in Aune's commentary on the first chapter of Revelation. On p. 40 (Rev. 1.5) Aune writes, "The Latin Vulgate translates the phrase 'ruler of the kings of the earth' with princeps regnum terrae, a title with significant political ramifications since it could designate the Roman emperor." For princeps regnum terrae read princeps regum terrae. At Rev. 1.5, λούσαντι ("having washed") is a variant reading for λύσαντι ("having freed") — on p. 45 Aune prints λύσαντι but translates λούσαντι.

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