Friday, March 18, 2011

cheering or groaning? laughing or laboring towards liberty?

There are lots of ways to look at the Earth and earthquakes.  In an earlier post today, I looked at how the Bible (at least I Maccabees in Greek and in English translation) shows mother Earth as sympathetic and empathetic.

Then, similarly, there's what Paul writes to Romans (in Greek, for which I'll also supply some great English translations below).  Paul, we all know, was an earthquake survivor, was actually literally liberated by this act of God.  More on that in a moment.

But first, here's what an American radio talk-show host says to his audience.  Notice how he's assuming that "the quake and subsequent tsunami" are to be viewed as a vengeful act.  Notice how he's saying that "Gaia" (i.e., Mother Earth) mocks and "just wipes out" the Japanese, to spite them:
"On his Friday [March 11, 2011] show, Rush Limbaugh wondered if environmentalists will 'cheer' the earthquake in Japan, since the quake and subsequent tsunami hit the region of the country that thrives on car manufacturing."

"Rush Limbaugh laughed about Japanese refugees recycling after the earthquake that struck the country on his Tuesday [March 15] show.... 'They've given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are recycling their garbage.' Here, he began to laugh, continuing, 'and yet, Gaia levels them! Just wipes them out!'"
Now here's the contrast to Rush Limbaugh.  It's Bible, and not just the turn-or-pay preacher's Bible either.

Here's the Bible showing Mother Earth to be our mother, showing her quakes to be labors toward our liberty.

Here's the Jewish Paul writing to men and women living in the capital city of the Jew-mocking Roman empire.  I'm giving you a few English translations because the translators, without some committee weakening the force, were able to render the Greek in some powerful ways, fitting for the noted events:
... ἐφ’ ἑλπίδι ὅτι καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ κτίσις ἐλευθερωθήσεται ἀπὸ τῆς δουλείας τῆς φθορᾶς εἰς τὴν ἐλευθερίαν τῆς δόξης τῶν τέκνων τοῦ θεοῦ. Οἴδαμεν γὰρ ὅτι πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις συστενάζει καὶ συνωδίνει ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν. Οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτοὶ τὴν ἀπαρχὴν τοῦ πνεύματος ἔχοντες, ἡμεῖς καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς στενάζομεν, υἱοθεσίαν ἀπεκδεχόμενοι, τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν.

We know that all creation groans. Till now
It suffers labor pains, and not only creation
Aches but we too, the first fruits of the spirit,
Groan and in eagerness wait for adoption
And for the redemption of our bodies.
....--Willis Barnstone (translating Paul)

Yet there was the hope that creation itself also would be set free from slavery to decay, and have the glorious freedom of God's children. We know that all creation keeps sighing deeply together and is in birthing pains together up to the present time. Not only that, but also we ourselves who have the Spirit given to us as the first offering, we also keep sighing deeply within ourselves looking forward to our adoption, that is, the setting free of our body.
....--Ann Nyland (translating Paul)

... but there is hope, because this world will be set free from slavery to decay into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole world groans and is in labor together, until now; not only that, but even we who have some foretaste of the Spirit also groan within ourselves as we await adoption and the redemption of the body.
....--Richmond Lattimore (translating Paul)

... in hope, That also the creation itself be freed from servitude of corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans together and travails together until now. And not only, but also they having the first fruits of the Spirit, and we ourselves groan in ourselves, waiting for adoption as a son, the redemption of our body.
....--Julia Evelina Smith (translating Paul)
And here's the Jewish physician Luke, for his friend, Theo-Philus, making a record of how an act of God actually freed Paul's body, how an earthquake liberated not only Paul but also other prisoners and even one of the imperial prison wardens:

ἄφνω δὲ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας, ὥστε σαλευθῆναι τὰ θεμέλια τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου· ἠνεῴχθησαν δὲ παραχρῆμα αἱ θύραι πᾶσαι, καὶ πάντων τὰ δεσμὰ ἀνέθη.
....--Luke, at the onset of this act of God, this liberating earthquake

Suddenly there was an earthquake so great that it shook the foundations of the prison, and all the doors came open and everyone's chains came loose.
....--Willis Barnstone (translating Luke)

Suddenly there was such a major earthquake, that the foundations of the prison were rendered unstable! Immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains became loose.
....--Ann Nyland (translating Luke)

and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and all the doors came open, and the chains fell off all of them.
....--Richmond Lattimore (translating Luke)

And suddenly was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and the bonds of all were let loose.
....--Julia Evelina Smith (translating Luke)

1 comment:

G said...

Amen. Thanks for some of the most sensible blog entries on the present tragedy.

WWJD. Weep.