My Photo
Location: United States

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Anastasia and the lost tribe of Koine speaking Greeks (fiction)

In the final years of twentieth century a culturally isolated tribe of Greek speaking people were discovered who spoke a perfectly preserved form of first century AD Koine Greek but had never heard of Judaism or Christianity. This lost tribe was highly literate, having preserved most of ancient greek literature in a huge library. A New Testament linguist Russell Booth interviewed the head librarian Anastasia and determined that she had a mastery of the syntax and lexicon of first century AD Koine Greek far beyond any living scholar in the “modern” world. Dr. Booth gave Anastasia a copy of the Gospel of John from the greek new testament and she agreed to read it and be tested for comprehension.

A month later Anastasia  participated in a session with Dr. Booth and a panel of New Testament scholars to ask her questions about the Gospel of John. Anastasia was asked to retell the story of the healing at the pool (John 5:1-18) with comments. Anastasia identified Jesus as a mantis (seer, prophet, diviner) and magos (magician, wise man) who had supernatural powers of healing and who performed food miracles. In her exposition of  the healing at the pool she identified several disturbances in the text where story seemed to her incoherent. There was no explanation why the invalids were found gather around the pool. When Jesus asked a man if he wants to be healed the man tells him he wants to bathe and has no servant to help him into the pool when the water is disturbed and it appears that only one person is allowed to bathe in the pool at a given time. Jesus appears to ignore the request to bathe, doesn’t offer to help him into the pool but tells him to get up and carry something. The man complies and this becomes the center of a dispute with some group who say it is against accepted custom to carry this thing on a certain day. The disputants are exceedingly prone to violence and want to have Jesus killed for violation of their customs and claiming to be the son of a deity. Anastasia finds the story  incoherent, like the fragments of several stories randomly glued together.
As a highly literate native speaker of the language Anastasia has a mastery of “the code”  but she comes away from the text confounded by the story. Apparently the meaning of the story isn’t in the text. If it were, she would be able to comprehend it.  


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home