Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2011 January 13

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Humanities desk
< January 12 << Dec | January | Feb >> January 14 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Humanities Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.


January 13[edit]

Pinter quote from an introduction to one of his works[edit]

Hi,

Looking for a quote where Pinter said something about being more scared by characters knowing everything about their own background than their knowing nothing of it; can anyone direct me to the orignal quote please? Thanks 86.8.142.73 (talk) 13:04, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

"Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen" and its acceptability to different Christian denominations[edit]

Am I right in thinking that there are some denominations of Christianity which would not find the "Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen" form of words acceptable in a prayer? DuncanHill (talk) 13:16, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Are you talking about adding the phrase to a specific prayer (such as the Lord's Prayer), or about adding it when praying in general? I could see some denominations objecting to adding extra "non-scripted" words to a prayer that is spelled out in the liturgy. Blueboar (talk) 13:36, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Praying in general. DuncanHill (talk) 13:42, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I can't think of any Christian denominations that would object to the phrase in a general sense. Blueboar (talk) 13:54, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) In the sense that you can find some group of people who call themselves Christians who may find the phrase objectionable, anything is possible. There likely may be some. Considering only the majority of Christians, those that belong to a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or Mainline Protestant faiths, I cannot think of anyone that would. However, your question is vague; what about the phrase do you suspect is objectionable to some Christians? If you could tell us why you think that some Christians may find it problematic, we could perhaps answer your question more intelligently. --Jayron32 13:57, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
The reason I ask is that I'm sure I've heard it of some denominations before, just can't remember which. DuncanHill (talk) 14:03, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but in what context, or what about the phrase did the denominations find objectionable? --Jayron32 14:06, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
It would have been in the context of trying to find non-denominational prayers. As to the why, I really couldn't say. You obviously don't know of any, so throwing random theological specualtion at you probably won't help. DuncanHill (talk) 14:13, 13 January 2011 (UTC)


Just an idea, but are you maybe confusing this with the doxology tagged on the end of the Lord's Prayer, the "For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever, Amen" part? Some faiths do not consider that a formal part of the Lord's Prayer and do not include it in their recitation thereof, and others consider it an integral part. The article on the Lord's Prayer contains a discussion of why its use (as an integral part of the Lord's Prayer) is contested. --Jayron32 14:10, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
No, not thinking of that. DuncanHill (talk) 14:13, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

There are some denominations which find this phrase very important to place at the end of their prayers. Most often the rationale comes from an interpretation of Book of John 14:6. The reason I have encountered why this interpretation is considered null to some is due to the doctrine of The Trinity. Some denominations begin by praying to Jesus, and thus see no need in sending their prayer through Him to get to Him. schyler (talk) 14:31, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Hmmm... while the term "non-denominational" technically means "inclusive of different Christian denominations", it can also refer to gatherings that are "inclusive of all faiths and beliefs". If your audience is at all likely to include non-Christians, I could definitely see objections to any explicit reference to Jesus in what is supposed to be a non-denominational prayer. Blueboar (talk) 14:35, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Actually, "non-denominational", as often as not, is a euphemism for "Fundamentalist Evangelical". I think the word you're looking for is "ecumenical". Pais (talk) 15:13, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, yes I do know that. DuncanHill (talk) 14:43, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
If you are looking for a prayer that will be acceptable to a mixed-Christian audience (an ecumenical gathering), I cannot think of any objections to the formulation "Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen". The closest thing I could think of is that a Unitarian may object, however I doubt it, since Unitarian Universalism tends to be inclusive of beliefs, rather than exclusive of them, so a Unitarian would probably fully accept such a formulation even if he himself was an athiest Unitarian (yes, they exist). --Jayron32 15:54, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I can find suitable prayers, what I'm asking here is if my vague memory is correct. DuncanHill (talk) 16:04, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Might you be half-remembering hearing about George Washington's Valley Forge Prayer and the changes made to it? 86.164.67.42 (talk) 16:25, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
No, I can honestly say I've never heard of that prayer before. DuncanHill (talk) 22:16, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Why is it a bad thing if the Jews killed Christ?[edit]

As our article Jewish deicide explains, there was and is a common complaint against the Jewish people by some Christians that the Jews killed Christ. The article does a good job discussing various historical perspectives on who has been blamed for it and how that has evolved over time.

What I can't seem to find is why, if we accept the premise that the Jews DID kill Christ, this is a bad thing. According to core Christian doctrine, the death of Jesus was a redemptive sacrifice to absolve the sins of all mankind, yes? And, in order to do this, he had to die. So, shouldn't a Christian who believed that the Jews killed Jesus be grateful to them as the instrument by which their sins were absolved?

Other than "antisemitism doesn't have to make sense", what am I missing here? gnfnrf (talk) 16:54, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

"antisemitism doesn't have to make sense" is plenty sufficient to explain what goes on here. But the pseudo-reasoning is that "the Jews" did not know that Jesus death was a necessary part of God's plan for redemption, and hence killing the perfectly innocent Jesus was an evil act. What all this says about the omnipotent being that set up said situation is open to interpretation... --Stephan Schulz (talk) 17:02, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Can I point out that in any case, the statement that 'the Jews killed Christ' is false by what little evidence we have. He was seemingly executed by the puppet government of an imperialist power for being a political troublemaker. There is no evidence at all that 'the Jews' in general approved of this. AndyTheGrump (talk) 17:08, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I've wondered this myself. After all, if Jesus hadn't died on the Cross, there would be no Christianity. The medieval carol Adam lay ybounden even goes so far as to praise the Fall of Man, because without it no redemption would have been possible: "Ne had the apple taken been, ne had never our ladie abeen heavene queen: Blessed be the time that apple taken was, therefore we moun singen Deo gracias!" (It doesn't seem to consider the fact that if it hadn't been for the Fall of Man, no redemption would have been necessary either, but hey...) Andy, the Bible does say it was "the Jews" (a phrase that in the New Testament almost always means "the Jewish authorities", not the everyday people) who brought Jesus to the Romans' attention and who insisted that he be executed even after Pontius Pilate said he found no guilt in Jesus and offered to release him. Pais (talk) 17:15, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
AndyTheGrump -- That's not quite correct. According to the New Testament, members of a small high-priestly clique or "Sadducee" faction, wanted Jesus dead. The high-ranking priests of the Jerusalem temple were recognized by the Romans as being a subordinate "native" authority for some purposes, but the Romans did not give them the ability to impose the death penalty, so therefore they had to hand him over to the Roman governor and claim that he was a political rebel against the Romans... AnonMoos (talk) 17:36, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
There's also the situation where Pilate offers to allow the crowds to pardon Jesus, and they demand "Give us Barabbas!" instead. Matthew is particularly straightforward in placing complicitousness against the people present, when they say "His blood is on us and on our children". This passage has often been used as justification for the antisemitic position that "The Jews" as a group are liable for Jesus's death. Still, that is a patently rediculous position given that there were likely no more than a few hundred people present during this exchange; the entirety of the Jewish nation was not there making that statement. --Jayron32 17:54, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
One shouldn't expect too much logic in these matters. From a logical point of view, Judas is almost as much the saviour as Jesus: if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, he would not have been crucified, so none of us would be redeemed. Therefore logically all of us should be grateful to Judas -- but you will find very few Christians who see it that way. Looie496 (talk) 18:14, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Two notable exceptions are John Piper and the late Christian musician, Rich Mullins. Mr. Mullins once noted in an interview that Jesus called twelve disciples, but He really only needed one to fulfill His plan. "And I kind of go, I would much, much rather have God want me, than use me." ~~MelancholyDanish — Preceding unsigned comment added by MelancholyDanish (talkcontribs) 18:38, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Jorge Luis Borges' story Three Versions of Judas has an even more extreme idea, that simply being mortal and dying on the cross would not have been lowly enough, and the sacrifice required was to become Judas, the betrayer. I don't know that any theologian has held this idea, though. --ColinFine (talk) 22:20, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
The Last Temptation of Christ has Jesus telling Judas that he will be his greatest disciple, because his job is the most important and requires the most sacrifice (Judas had to betray his friend and mentor). Staecker (talk) 13:19, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Some reward. --Sean 16:19, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
As I understand the issue, the 'badness' of the act was not that the Jews killed Jesus, but rather that (from the Christian perspective) they rejected the path of salvation that Jesus offered. They are condemned because Christ said "Here is the way to salvation", and they said "Nonono." I don't think it was originally intended as a 'Jews are evil' idea - more at 'Jews are unsaved'; a counterexample for the faithful - but few except for religious scholars distinguish clearly between 'unsaved' and 'evil'. --Ludwigs2 20:04, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I think you're right. Later in the Bible, there's a passage where a group of Jews are stoning someone (I think his name was Stephen), and as he was being stoned he was looking up and kept talking about seeing Jesus and God, in turn enraging these Jews even more. That would seem to fit the pattern. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 04:25, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Let me get this straight: the Jews did not have the authority to put Jesus to death, but they did have the authority to put Stephen to death? How does that make sense? Why couldn't they have stoned Jesus as they did Stephen? Did the Roman governor authorize the stoning of Stephen? Edison (talk) 05:30, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
The second part would be because Stephen explicitly disavowed Judaism in favor of worshiping Jesus as God's son. The other parts, I honestly can't remember; I haven't read the Bible in several years (being a strong agnostic, I have no need), but someone more knowledgeable may be able to give you specifics. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 06:02, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
It has also been argued (by Hyam Maccoby among others) on the grounds of the legal jurisdictions known to have been in force, that the stoning of Stephen (in which the Sadducee strong-arm man Saul/Paul claimed to have participated) was an extra-judicial action - essentially a mob lynching. Several of Maccoby's books address aspects of Gnfnrf's original question: part of his thesis is that Saul/Paul's claim to have been a Pharisee was, on several points of evidence, false; that he (by his own account) was an agent of the Sadducees; and that many New Testament references to "Pharisees" or "the Jews" are alterations from the original "Saducees" made to protect the ex-Sadducee Saul/Paul's image after his pan-ethnic version of Christianity had gained ascendance over that of Jesus's actual disciples who formed the "Jerusalem Church". 87.81.230.195 (talk) 08:07, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Some years ago, near easter time, I saw a documentary film about Barabbas and the disputes about him and this whole situation. I remember that one has explained that "Barabbas" was not a jewish name, neither a name of any other close culture, and that it meant "Son of the father" instead. He explained that Jesus has been addresed before as Barabbas. As for this specific situation, the jews would have been shouting "Give us Jesus Barabbas" ("Give us Jesus, son of the father"). As it is known, gospels have been translated across many languages, and there is the chance that some translator in the way has understood it incorrectly and translated "Jesus" and "Barabbas" as if they were two different peoples. MBelgrano (talk) 15:45, 15 January 2011 (UTC)

That doesn't seem very likely. Even if that passage were a translation from an earlier Aramaic version, the Koine Greek Gospels were written relatively soon after by Christians in Christian communities with many Aramaic speakers, and many who would have heard these stories much earlier. I mean, there is a respectable theory that some or all of the Gospels are deliberately downplaying the Jerusalem Church, at a time when the Jerusalem Church was still significant: this isn't a community that is going to make such a glaring translation error (between two languages that were so widely known in the community) that affects the narrative of the Passion. 86.164.67.42 (talk) 22:30, 16 January 2011 (UTC)
There's really no evidence that any portion or direct A.D.-era source of the New Testament was originally written down in any non-Greek language, with the possible (though very disputed) exception of an Aramaic-language "sayings document" (which would have consisted almost exclusively of a list of direct quotes of things said by Jesus). In Aramaic, Bar-Abba would have been a somewhat transparently fake name, and would have been an odd word to apply to Jesus... AnonMoos (talk) 09:39, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

Anatomy of the Soul[edit]

In reading Moby Dick, I've noticed that Melville speaks with fluidity about the offices and attributes of various parts of the soul, or psyche: reason, will, perceptibility, judgment, etc. And in reading Aquinas, I've noticed that he's forever making subtle distinctions between, say, the appetitive and intellectual faculties. Is there a particular writer, or philosopher, or school of knowledge, on whom these men are drawing? If Aristotle, in which of his works does he dissect the soul like this?

Thanks immensely for your help! ~~ MelancholyDanish — Preceding unsigned comment added by MelancholyDanish (talkcontribs) 17:32, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

That general approach is known as faculty psychology and is particularly associated with medieval scholasticism, but unfortunately that's about all I know about it. Looie496 (talk) 18:08, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps a little off-topic (?) but see also Phenomenology (philosophy). AndyTheGrump (talk) 18:25, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Spent a week on it last semester and read a very abridged version, but quite possibly Aristotle's On The Soul? schyler (talk) 23:43, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Part is from Aristotle's works on natural history; the appetitive faculty was what distinguished animals from plants (which had only a nutritive faculty), while humans also have a rational or intellectual faculty.[1] --Colapeninsula (talk) 13:30, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

The works of Alice Bailey go a long way to explaining the anatomy of the soul in a much less physcological or philisophical way —Preceding unsigned comment added by 195.89.16.154 (talk) 09:03, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Artist, Oil Painting[edit]

Trying to find out any info on artist A. Bunting. Have an oil painting depicting civil war soldiers on horses. Every time I type in his name I get info about wild birds. Any help would be wonderful!!! -AJ —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.82.151.238 (talk) 20:33, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

We don't seem to have an A. Bunting amongst our articles: Bunting. It might help if we had more information. Presumably you don't know what the 'A' stands for? Or have an approximate date for the painting?
English Civil War or American Civil War? Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:43, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Is there any historical proof that Cleopatra would stick pins in her slave-girls' breasts?[edit]

Dostoevsky claims in Notes from Underground: "They say that Cleopatra (excuse an instance from Roman history) was fond of sticking gold pins into her slave-girls' breasts and derived gratification from their screams and writhings."

Is there any original Roman source that backs up this assertion? --Gary123 (talk) 20:42, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

Plutarch in his biography of Mark Anthony (P303) relates that she would test various poisons, and then various poisonous animals, on prisoners sentenced to death, in order to find out which poison procured the most painless death (finally settling on the poison bite of the asp). But I have not found anything about sticking pins into the breasts of slavegirls (in neither Plutarch, Appian, Florus or Horace, who are the main classical sources on Cleopatra). Although Plutarch does not specify, at least not in the translation that I read, in which way the poison was administered, technically it could have been administered by pins. However it sounds to me very much like an apocryphal story, much like I suspect Plutarchs story of the poison experiments is as well. --Saddhiyama (talk) 10:12, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
Dostoevsky's thoughts on Cleopatra were influenced by Pushkin who wrote several bits of prose and poetry about her including "Egyptian Nights" and "We Were Spending the Evening at Princess D's Dacha which depict Cleopatra as languid immoral and bored. Pushkin in turn used Aurelius Victor as a source, who was writing about 400 years after Cleopatra, and wrote little but did write that Cleopatra would prostitute herself but then kill her clients. Pushkin's works were extremely influential on romanticism and helped define Cleopatra's character for much of the literature that followed. The pins in the breast kind of sadism isn't in Pushkin's works though and I expect Dostoevsky simply made that up. It should be noted that it isn't Dostoevsky that is claiming that but the Underground Man and repeating such misogynistic, sadistic rumour probably is meant to inform us a little of his supposed psychological make-up. meltBanana 13:47, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
The pins in the breast story is probably supposed to be a half remembered bit of scandal the Underground Man ascribes to Cleopatra after reading it in Charles Fourier's 1816 work "Le nouveau monde amoureux" where he writes about a supposed princess of Moscow, Mme Strogonoff who sublimated her unrecognised lesbian urges for her maid by sticking pins in her maid's breasts. Or maybe Dostoevsky knew the story from a more immediate Russian source. meltBanana 14:07, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Very strange concentration camp badge[edit]

Corpses at Buchenwald concentration camp with a strange badge in red on the body closest to the camera. (Click on it to enlarge)

The corpse closest to the camera in this image is wearing a strange red badge, that does not seem to match any of the standard Nazi concentration camp badges. Anyone know what it could be? --Stor stark7 Speak 22:53, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

It looks like a painted number to me, like "161" or something. --Mr.98 (talk) 23:23, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
I would agree with Mr. 98... it does look like a number done in red paint. Blueboar (talk) 03:01, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
And now for the next question- why is it there? The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 15:45, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
On that, I have no speculation. It seems unlikely to me that it would have been a prison number by itself — those were necessarily much longer than would have fit at that size. But there are all sorts of camp things that one might imagine could require permanent numbers. It might also have nothing to do with the wearer — it might be, like many jackets, "recycled" from other dead prisoners. It does seem unusual, and a quick look at other prisoner pictures from Buchenwald did not for me turn up anything similar, which I would have expected if it was something very common. --Mr.98 (talk) 19:09, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
It looks like a red swastika to me. StuRat (talk) 03:25, 15 January 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure that would be have been too commonly displayed on the clothing of Buchenwald victims. I agree that it looks like a number, not a badge, and that a good guess at what that number is would be "161". Putting numbers on their victims was a fairly common thing for Nazis to do, but I don't know what purpose it might have been meant to serve in this case. WikiDao 05:07, 15 January 2011 (UTC)