Saturday, September 07, 2013


Liddell & Scott Must Be Wrong, Sir

William Bedell Stanford (1910-1984), Memoirs (Dublin: Hinds, 2001), p. 62:
I wish I had been the protagonist in a similar clash between lecturer and student in which the student was less complaisant. He was a graduate of several generations before me but a friend of mine, C.B. Phipps, who held the record number of degrees in College, six in all: B.A., B.Litt., M.A., B.D., H.Dip.Ed., Ph.D., LL.D. As a divinity student he attended classes in biblical Greek in which he knew more Greek than the lecturer. One day the lecturer asked him to parse an irregular verb and then told him, with some glee, that he was wrong. Phipps argued back. Finally the lecturer told him, 'Very well, then, Phipps. You may have heard of a lexicon edited by two scholars called Liddell & Scott. Go to the College Library and check the answer for yourself.' Phipps, certain of his facts, went joyously out of the class and timed his return for the last few minutes of the lecture. He came in with a sad expression. 'Well, what have you discovered by your lengthy researches, Phipps?' 'Liddell & Scott must be wrong, sir.' 'Come now, Phipps, don't try to argue against such an authority.' 'But they agree with me, sir.' It's a story that I have always tried to keep in mind when tempted to assume infallibility in my teaching.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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