Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Its Bumping Season! # Hellenic Artifacts !

A medley of some of  images I've posted earlier

These 3 artifacts span several thousand years of Hellenic culture , Byzantine, Classical, and way back to the Neolithic!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Angel's Message

#angel #message #greek #luke #gospel #inkscape #xmas

For those who don't read Greek the translation

I bring good news to you of joy great 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A medley of OWLS

A medley of #Owls #classicalgreekart #coins #greekcoins

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Xmas Humor 2017

#christmas 3humor #classics #ancienthistory #nativity

Bible Study is on  Christmas Break ... instead

A look at how Roman bureaucrats saw certain events

and the official version was ...

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A Hellenistic Greek depiction of Amazons


This fragment of a #hellenistic era (BCE 300) vessel shows Amazons in a mixture of Costumes. The Queen Hippolyte appears to wearing Greek boots and a tunic over an Eastern style shirt. The Male figure is  Heracles. Note also the expanded color range with at least three or four slip colors, ochre, white, black and red. Remember the Greeks and Romans used polished clay slips not overglaze.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Having Too Much PLEONEXIA

In #mark 7 Jesus lists #pleonexia as a sin. #biblestudy #greeknewtestament #pleonexia

The Greek New Testament uses this word meaning avarice or greed also translated as covetousness in some older and other versions.

Coveting again is not just desire but misdirected desire.

The word breaks down into two roots pleo(n) probably from pleioon more and exia from ekhein to have.

This is more in the sense of EXCESS TOO MUCH having and wanting so sometimes in Greek it can also mean arrogance or advantage but however here it is clearly greed being referred to so remember


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Amazon Horse Rider

#athenianvase  #amazon #horserider #scythian #sarmatian #costume #classicalgreekceramic #equestrian #barebackriding 

This is perhaps one of the more realistic depictions of an #Amazon?

Herodotus claimed one group of Amazons married into a Scythian tribe and founded the Sarmatians.

The amount of detail on this work suggests a live model to me?

As I've stated before perhaps some women from Southern Russia or Central Asia living or working in Athens as temple or city guards may have been the model for many depictions of Amazons.

Its also a splendid depiction of horseback riding with no saddle and how much smaller ancient riding horses were and proof its taken centuries to breed up horses to the taller larger amounts we have today.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Moikheia and Adultery Spoiling Relationships

#wordstudy #biblestudy #newtestamentgreek

IN Mark 7 Jesus includes Adultery in a list of sins and our text uses the word MOIKHEIA probably to translate Hebrew /Aramaic * Naaph or some variant thereof.

(Sorry I have limited Hebrew / Aramaic ... if anyone reading knows for sure please share info via comments)

Now Adultery is listed separately from Porneia because its not just sexual immorality but a sin that alters relationships and the Greek and Latin words we translate as adultery also translate as spoil or corrupt or seduce.

Adultery is a wilful disruption of a stable relationship. Perhaps not just marriage?  Or even religious marriage but civil or de facto also ?

But affairs are romantic impulse you claim ... well sometimes yes and also there's the issue of people having abusive spouses or being trapped in an arranged marriage.

Just don't cheat on your spouse.

 Make as clean as possible a break if your bonds emotional or legal or other are broken beyond repair.

And support people who have to escape abusive relationships or arranged marriages to an incompatible partner! Don't tell them to stay and suffer for the "sake of the children" or family "honor" or because their partner might change?

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Amazons and Athletes and Actors?

#amazons #actors #athletes #theatre #ceramics

Let's take a closer artifact at an artifact I showed you before!

I previously showed you this image as an example of a hybrid of Greek and Scythian clothing on an Amazon but I'ld like you to consider something else. This is a perfume / scented oil flask described as probably belonging to a young man for carrying to the gymnasium and applying after his workout.


Is it just possible some upper class women were experimenting with wearing non Athenian clothes say for horse or chariot riding. Could some Sarmatian or Scythian women actually have been wearing such outfits on the streets of Athens? Was this flask and other similar items actually sold to Athenian women who wondered about Amazons? Could there have been a women's gym in Athens? Perhaps attached to a woman only bath? Open to non Athenians if they were women temple guardians?

A final possibility is that this is the actual equivalent of "pinup" art. This could actually be a young male actor dressed as an Amazon from a play. While traditional dramas used masked actors perhaps sometimes the performers were unmasked for other types of theatre events?

Saturday, 25 November 2017


#porn #porneia #fornication #pornography #wordstudy

Last week I posted a list of what Jesus described as sins. as one was PORNEIA generally translated as fornication or sexual immorality but perhaps porneia covers a wider range of sin.

Consider what it and other related words are used to describe not just sexual immorality but usually profiting from or using sex workers and in Jesus' time many of those sex workers might have been slaves forced into brothels.

But in modern times how many other roles might be unethical because they involve creating using or profiting from work or products or posing with the primary goal of invoking not merely desire but lust the kind of lust that has no concern for the feelings or condition of whatever or whoever it uses?

Erotic art invoking healthy desire to be fulfilled with a willing partner 

Porn that's used to"stratch an itch"

Where is the boundary? Intent or Harm?

Maybe doing pinups is a sin?

Maybe defending the use of porn on ideological grounds is a sin?

But one thing for certain Jesus points out  (see Mark 7) the sin comes from us. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Amazons are Classical !

With the JLA movie out now lets take a look at some Classical depictions of Amazons.

The Greeks seem to have kept changing their minds sometimes showing them as wearing male Greek armour and sometimes as Central Asian nomads or in blends of both.

The use of Scythians as city guardsmen in Athens and possibly other cities seems to have influenced this. I wonder if perhaps some of the men brought their sisters with them and the sisters wee employed as temple guardians.

Hellenistic historians firmly believed there were Amazons.

Here's an image from 500 BCE

Now One from 470bce

Note shes wearing  greek style torso armour over trousers and a shirt!

420 BCE the full scythian / sarmatian look !

300 BCE back to blended costumes.

I'll take a closer more detailed look at these works one by one over the next posts.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

What Jesus said were sins

#biblestudy, #greeknewtestament, sins, what jesus said,

MARK 7 20-23.

Jesus said what/it comes out of a man this thing makes defiled/ unclean the man ,

from within for out of the heart of the man evil thoughts come, (also) fornication, thievings, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, the evil eye meaning malice or envy, slander, pride, folly.

Fornication Porneia is basically sexual immorality involving (ab)using sex workers, who were often slaves with no choice, and includes using or making pornography and being promiscuous.
Klopai is literally thievings plural so stealing and theft.
Phonoi murders slaughter homicide not just killing.
Moikheia is more specifically adultery.
Pleonexia is the longing the greed for more than your fair share of something.
Dolos is trickery that leads something into a trap.
Aselgeia is an odd compound of a- thus a word that may derive from thelgos or thelos?
The idea is undisciplined or perhaps even a delibarateness wilful choice to behave badly.
Note that Blaspheemia is bla - hurt injure plus speech but bla is also the stem of seed and sprout so again choicing to promote evil slander insults via speaking of another badly.

The Aphro in Aphrosune is generally said to come from aphroon however aphros could be foam or froth also but the general sense is a kind of delibarate ignorance or silliness.

Note the emphasis on our choice of to err.

Dialogismos is a reasoning or thought.
Porneia is sex that is not romance or philia.
Phonos is not violence on impulse but murder.

Sin hurts yourself and other people through making bad choices.

An evil deed and action comes from humans.

Justice League of ATHENS

#jla #athens #batman #wonderwoman #superman #justiceleague

WHAT IF the Justice League had had equivalents in Ancient Athens say at the peak of the Athenian empire?

BATMAN / Bruce Wayne would probably be the son of a doctor from a wealthy ship building/owning family.

Yes I know Wain means Wagon but the Waynes / Wains came from families with property and industrial investments and in Classical Athens a canny landowner / aristocrat would invest in ship building as an industry researching and implementing technology and with a steady market demand for the military and commerical usages.

Plus the port area down at Peiraeus was probably the major crime area.

As a wealthy Aristocrat Bruce who probably would be called Brisos or Broteas could have had a house in the port area as well as a country estate.

Probably no batcave though? Wrong geology?

He could have donned a black cape but probably used body paint or painted armour for his costume and given the Athenians did not have paint outer walls in dark colors or have multistorey structures much higher than three or four maximum the utility belt would still have pouches but no ropes or cables maybe climbing hooks.

Wonder Woman is easier.

There was a tradition of Scythians coming to from the areas adjacent to the north of the Black sea and serving as street police / city guards in Athens. Diana / Dione might be one of those or a temple guardian and maybe even not bother with a secret identity at all apart from saying she was the daughter of some Sarmatian tribal leader? She would probably just be called the Amazon and not Wonder Woman. No invisible plane but probably she would have horses.


Given the scarcity of Iron unless a certain spaceship landed in the dead of winter when everyone was indoors half the countryside would have shown up to see if the meteor had iron in it.

Given the lack of tractors or draught horses how the "Kents" managed to hide the ship ...?

Filling in the pit and building something over there? An Olive or Wine Press?

Clark probably would be called Kallias or maybe Glaukos for his blue eyes.

His hero name might not be Superman as that might be rahter too long in Greek  Hyperandreios ?

I could see him calling himself the Athenian or something like Democrates.

Cyborg. The Greeks had stories about automatons who served Hephaestus the Smith god.

Africans in Athens of that era would have been slaves or if free metics.

I could see Victor Nikias and his father as successful metic smiths who developed a special suit of armor including prosthetics working on spring or windup mechanisms maybe?

The Flash Hermias or Hermogenes the Swift One Takhon Thoas or Hyperpodookees?

Aquaman. People might refer to him as the Triton or the Atlantid.

We've had steampunk Batman, British and Chinese Superman and others.

If anyone wants to do a JLof Athens comic I'ld love to script and research it with you!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Greek Numbers One to Ten

#greeknumerals #greeknumbers Some revision today Basic Numbers #arithmoi
#eis #hen #mia #duo #treis #tria


Here are the Numbers One to TEN in Greek

1 ONE M. εἱς F. μία N. ἕν

(see the previous post for the full declension of the first 4 numbers).

2 TWO All genders follow this declension pattern

Nominative Accusative δύο Genitive Dative δυοῖν

3 THREE M. F. τρεῖς N. τρία

4 FOUR M. F. τέτταρες N. τέτταρα

5 FIVE πέντε

6 SIX ἕξ

7 SEVEN ἑπτά

8 EIGHT ὀκτώ

9 NINE ἐννέα

10 TEN δέκα

The modern Greek forms are ένα δύο τρία τέσσερα πέντε ἕξι ἑφτὰ ὀχτὼ ἐννιὰ δέκα

The number One is also used as the indefinite article in Modern Greek.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


Before I move on to the next theme series take a look at this.

The Greeks didn't see themselves as "white" .

And yes the pigment son the page may have darkened over the centuries but the artist clearly intended to show these revered figures with a variety of skin tones.

Yes I know someone will say but its Byzantine but that still says something interesting about how the Byzantines saw their multi-ethnic empire ! 

Saturday, 4 November 2017


#word study #greek #greeknewtestament #agape #nomos

Just a short post today.



I've been thinking about the differences between the Old and New Testament and I'm speculating if they can be summarized by two Greek words AGAPE and NOMOS.

NOMOS is Law but also ORDER and a case can be made the Old Testament describes the creation evolution and interactions of NOMOS as an ideal through myth and history and even in the Prophecy sections since there's an ongoing theme of flawed humans versus divine law? 

The New Testament even when its talking about SIN is about AGAPE the euaggelion the good message about LOVE overcoming SIN and leading to healing and forgiveness.

Something to bear in mind while you're doing weekend bible study? 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Maenad Seal Ring

#maenad #seal #ring

This object creates questions?!


Seal rings like this were used to verify documents by making an impression in wax.
They were used by both the literate and illiterate since even if you could write your own name the seal impression created extra security.

So why a Maenad?
Was the owner a priest or temple official for a Dionysian cult?
Was the owner an actual female Maenad?

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Common and profane and Koinos

#word study #koinos  #newtestament
The words koinos and koinoo are often translated as profane or unclean or defile but the actual words originally mean common or shared.

The use of koinos and koinoo as an insult may have contributed to the change of meaning.

In Mark 7 the Pharisees and Scribes criticized the disciples of Jesus for not following a hand washing ritual before eating. The word used in Greek is KOINOS. This suggests perhaps many ordinary "common" people were eating without ritual hand washing unlike stricter followers of tradition.

Now the Pharisees regarded this as not just being unhygienic or untraditional but sinful hence Jesus rebuttal pointing out it is sin that defiles not food.

Also bear in mind the modern English usage of disdaining an action as being "terribly common" and how "vulgar" came to have a negative connotation when it originally meant popular or common and you'll see how koinos became "profane".

However sadly some late Christian ascetics carried this to the opposite extreme claiming bathing and other hygienic was sinful.

Don't follow either extreme just be sensible!

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Maenads and Ecstasy


Ever notice how so many art critics and historians talk about "graceful curves" when discussing images of Maenads in Classical Greek art and avoid discussing in depth that these are possibly the oldest known images in Western / European art of women in a state of religious ecstasy (okay possibly with a little or a lot of help from wine and mushrooms and whatever else they consumed during rituals) ? Think a bout that question and maybe go (re)read Euripides' Bacchae ?

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A Lonely Place

#biblestudy #wordstudy #gospel #newtestamentgreek

A Lonely Place

Just what is an EREEMOS?

In Mark 6:31 Jeus tells the returning disciples to come to a private lonely place and take a short break.

This verse was later used to justify building hermitages and monasteries in remote areas.

However what is a Ereemos. Its not just a desert or wilderness but a desolate empty area with very few humans maybe not even hereders or hunters, an area abandoned by humans, useless for farming, not just necassarily an arid dryland but any wilderness.

Yet however useful for creating food a Ereemos can still be USEFUL as a place to rest !

So support national parks and conservation areas!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Maenads One

Our next theme and series is MAENADS

#Maenad #satyrs #southitalianceramics

Southern Italy had many Greek colonies who produced ceramics in a looser style of drawing than mainland Greek painters of ceramics.

The Maenad is carrying a thyrsus and an unlighted torch. The satyrs are more human in appearance than mainland versions. And better behaved they are not trying to grope or grab the Maenad a pleasant change from some depictions of Maenads and Satyrs interacting.

More Maenads next time.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Apostolic Poverty

In Mark 6:7-13 and parallel passages in Matthew and Luke Jesus gives orders to his tweleve amjor disciples as to how they were to dress and equip themselves for ministry.

He commands paraaggelloo them to take/ lift off  airoo nothing  with them expect a staff , ei mee rabdon monos, and maybe a few copper khalkon coins tucked in their belt. They are not to carry bread or a leather bag, peran, and not to wear 2 tunics, just one and sandals.

Matthew differs in commanding them to have no gold silver or copper, don't carry any money,.

The differences very small may be due to him having to reissue this order a few times and varying or altering it perhaps because well meaning relatives tried to load down the boys with bags of flat bread or spare sandals or fancy walking sticks that were not plain wood?

The modern equivalent of this might be going out street preaching with nothing in your pockets, literally nothing, meeden, mee, is used in greek, and not even using public transport?

However there was no public transport system in ancient Palestine / Galilee and these men were walking much shorter distances between villages and used to walking!

Bear in mind the sandals were probably quite plain and more like thongs or havianas, a toe strap, maybe an ankle strap or a strap across the top of  the foot and they probably may have had a cloak for rough weather?

Verses like this contributed to the later practices of monastic poverty!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dionysus a Fresco fragment

This  #fresco fragment shows how the idea of a bearded adult #Dionysus persisted into the Roman era.

Scroll back for previous posts in this series !

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Faith not hysteria

Mark 5 Verse 36 continues the Faith Not Fear theme spread out through Chapters 4 and 5.

Jesus has scolded the apostles for being afraid rebuked demons and reassured a frightened woman and now he tells the synagouge ruler DO NOT FEAR ONLY BELIEVE

He's again asking others not to be fearful and panick but to trust him.
The apostles were asking for a miracle when perhaps they should not have been panicking.
The frightened woman needing healing could have been bolder and the family and friends of Jairus were hysterical with grief when perhaps they should have been calling for a physician?

Note also the commonsense involved. He heals the girl but also reassures and calms the parents and gets the crowd to go out of the house and when finished reminds the parents to get the girl further treatment and feed her (was she anorexic or had blood sugar issues?)

Note how healing through faith or other miracles are linked to people avoiding fear panic and hysteria? Faith and action ?!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Older Dionysus

#classicalgreekart #dionysus

As I stated in a prior post originally Dionysus was depicted as an older mature male with festival robes. The naked or half naked beardless youth appears to have been a Hellenistic and Roman development possibly inspired by Euripides Bacchai?

Here's another example

Note the robes are draped in a feminine style and the leopard skin cloak !

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Faith and Fear

Double metousia this weekend. I had more time to prep due to a public holiday!
#greeknewtestament #biblestudy #gospelofmark

Mark Chapter Four Verse Forty

Τί δειλοί ἐστε;

Οὔπω ἔχετε πίστιν;

Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?

This could also be translated as 
What cowards are you? 
Not yet you (plural) have faith/trust??

I sometimes wonder if Jesus was also rebuking them for panicking during the storm and for not having faith in their own abilities as sailors as well as in his power to protect them?

Dionysus and Maenads

#greekceramics #classicalart #dionysus

Many people may have seen Renaiassance and Roman era art showing Dionysus as a beardless naked or semiclothed party boy however originally the Greeks depicted him as an elegant aristocrat wearing his best festival robes!

Thee's more to come in this series !

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Dionysus Cup

#dionysus #cup #ClassicalGreekArt

NEW THEME #Dionysus

The Dionysus Cup is one of the most famous #Greekceramics

It shows part of the story of Dionysus and the pirates with the transformed pirates swimming around the ship and grape vines growing up and over the mast as Dionysus asserts his divine powers.

Note that this is Dionysus before it became fashionable to show him as a beardless effeminate youth.

This Dionysus us a partying Aristocrat with an embroidered robe and styled hair reclining at leisure!

Join me for more works featuring Dionysus next week!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Winged Goddess

Eek I skipped the mid week post so ...

another winged goddess before I move onto a new theme

Iris the Rainbow Messenger Goddess.

I wonder what colors the ancient Greeks would have used for her robe and wings if they had access to the modern variety of under and over glazes and enamels ?

Light not to be hidden

#biblestudy #greeknewtestament
Matthew 4:21-22

and he said to them
not comes the lamp so that under the bushel measure/container it is to be placed
nor under the bed and not (does one not) upon the lampstand it is to be placed ?
not for is hidden unless not so that translate as but rather (placed ) to be seen
nor made / become secret but so that comes into visibility

Meeti is emphatic
a modiov is a container or measure of a bushel of dry goods
Mark uses tethee an aorist subjunctive passive whereas Luke uses titheesin
phanerootheei is another aorist subjunctive

So the two verses are a linked rhetorical question

A lamp is (surely) not brought to be placed under a basket/container or a bed
 and not upon a lampstand!?
Some scholars think this is a reference to hanukkah lights?
for not is a thing hidden unless / rather to be revealed
and nothing is secret but to be made seen!

Basically Don't Hide your light use it! 

See Matthew 5:15-16 and Luke 8:16 and 11:33-36

Saturday, 16 September 2017

I Thessalonians 5 - 21

Given the same sex marriage equality campaigning fore and against there are lots of people quoting Paul on immorality and lust and other verses and no I am not going to debate those verses

I'm going to draw your attention to this verse

One Thessalonians Chapter 5 Verse 21




panta  dokimazete 
to kalon katekhete
apo pantos eidous poneerou apekhesthe 

 Panta Dokimazete

Do not be swayed by propaganda from either side 
but think and decide for yourselves.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Winged Victory NOT NIKE

Winged Victory from Ephesus.

The famous wingless and headless Nike is not the only surviving Winged Victory sculpture from the Classical Era. The proportions seem a little "off" but this is not being displayed in its original location. It was probably above ground and part of a podium over a doorway and only in direct sunlight for part of the day.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Doing good on a Sunday

#greeknewtestament #biblestudy #sabbath

Mark 3:4
 parallel verses Matthew 12:12 and Luke 6:9

It is lawful / permitted (on / in regard to the Sabbath (days implied by plural usage) to do good or  evil to do, lives / souls to save or to destroy / kill ?

exesti tois sabbasin agatho(n)  poieesai ee kakopoieesau ee psukheen soosai ee apokteinai/apolesai

The only difference between the 3 versions is apolesia versus apokteinai  and agathon separate from the verb

in modern English

 Is it permitted on the Sabbath 
to do good or do evil, to save lives or kill?

The Old Testament commands us to keep the Sabbath day holy and rest on it.

Some Jews took this so literally starting fires and cooking was banned.

Jesus partied with friends and followers, feed the hungry, forgive sins and healed people, as well as preaching on a Sunday.

A special blessing on all those rescue and emergency workers over in the Caribbean and the USA prepping or dealing with the aftermath of Irma.

As for those people safely outside of the storm's path crying out about the storm as a punishment for sins perhaps they should consider what the Pharisees response was to Jesus' rebuke.

 hoi de sioopoon and they were silent 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Erte's Hera

#Erte #Hera #ArtDeco #illustration

Classical Inspiration for a Modern Design?

Erte's depiction of Hera is very stylized but the costuming is fairly accurate in that a Queen Mortal or Olympian could have had such ornate robes. Remember the Greeks often depicted the gods with the embroidered robes and jewellery of aristocrats and painted their statues and while Erte to my knowledge never went to Greece he lived in Paris and had access to museums there featuring both Archaic and Classical Greek art.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sinners or Sick? "kakws exontes"

#greeknewtestament #biblestudy

Matthew 9:12 , Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:31 have parallel passages that all use the phrase

"hoi kakoos ekhontes" 

word for word this reads those (who) badly having but it means something like those who are in a continual bad condition. This condition can be one of health or sin and a colloquial translation might be  "those who are in a bad way" and its used in contrast to the term iskhontes those who are fit and strong or healthy in Luke who uses hugiaiontes. 

This has lead to the word being translated as sick or sinners.

So which to use ? 

In the following verse Jesus does use the word sinners however I also suspect this is yet another example of Jesus teasing the scribes and other religious authorities by using a phrase he knew had a double meaning and it is also a comment on the popular belief that sin caused disease.

Sick or Sinner? 

The dilemna is how to explain both? 

It has however got to be your choice how to explain this.

I hope my notes will be useful for your ministry?

Saturday, 2 September 2017


Hey people just been looking at my STATS for the blog 

 let other people know about 
 as well as liking and visiting 



#historywars #statues #history

A Hellenist's perspective on the latest rounds of the History Wars

On Social Media I'm seeing a lot of accusations and verbiage flying from right to left and between  traditionalists and conservatives and liberals and progressives and other factions on the theme of

You re trying to REWRITE / ERASE HISTORY !

The plain sad truth is that History is FRAGILE!

History has been rewritten or erased or lost for centuries.

Greek history is a good example of this.

We have writings by Herodotos and Polybius and Plutarch and various Hellenistic and Roman and Byzantine era historians who mention dozens of  historians biographers and chroniclers whose works no longer survive:


So what are we fighting about?

A silly kids cartoon version of history and about how diverse Roman Britain was or whether or not certain American statues of Lee and Columbus should be pulled down or elsewhere if statues of Captain Cook or Lenin or Lee or Governor Macquarie should be moved or destroyed.

Meanwhile I see libraries replacing print classics with ebooks or etexts regardless of whether or not readers have internet access or replacing older classics with whatever is on the current bestseller list instead of trying to have a balance of both.

One of my local libraries has taken their entire set of LOEBS off the main shelving and moved them to STACK (Shame on you #CHATSWOOD library) and we fight about cartoons and third rate statues instead of protecting primary sources whether they be artifacts archives or text.

Holy Muses will people spend less time arguing and reading political interpretations and more time actually reading primary sources?

In Greek or English read Herodotos and other historians!

If you're defending Robert E.Lee cos he was a "christian gentleman" ( well compared to some of his worse behaved contemporaries) read also first hand accounts of what it was like to be a slave !

If you defend Columbus statues do not do it by showing disdain for Amerind culture.

If you think Captain Cook statues should not be vandalized (personally I think simply changing the inscriptions would be a better action) remember in the past people have vandalized local Koori rock art and think how people of Aboriginal descent feel about that?

Don't want history broken?


Get people to visit and fund museums and libraries

and READ history
so we debate using facts not ideology and interpretations!


Saturday, 26 August 2017

Matthew and Levi


#matthew #levi

While some scholars argue that Matthew is NOT Levi others do. Why?

The gospel of Matthew calls the tax collector commanded by Jesus to follow me Matthew but the gospels of Mark and Luke call him Levi.

There's a simple explanation. Matthai or Maththai was easier for Greek speakers to pronounce than Levi. If you have a Greek New Testament you'll see in the textual notes at the bottom of page that while the only difference in various early manuscripts in how Matthew is written in Greek is whether it has a tth or thth in the middle word.

Whereas LEVI is written as Leui Leuei Leuin Leuis and Leuee in various manuscripts.

WHY? Hebrew and Aramaic had a sound scholars call Waw or Vau pronounced W or U or V.

KOINE GREEK didn't have that sound.

Mark and Luke were probably trying to show they knew some "proper" Hebrew whereas Matthew ...well if matthew comes from a phrase meaning gift of god/yahu perhaps Matthew was his name at work or he was known by both names but preferred Matthew? The actual form seems to have been Mattai but there was another similar name Mattathias. The Greek text renders it as Maththaion.
Latin changed it to Mattheus and

This could be pronounced by Greek and Aramaic speakers but Levi?

A Greek or Latin speakerwould normally use ou to represent w or v in other languages.

Spelling it as Leui is Luke trying to get closer to the actual Hebrew!

More on the Story of Matthew Levi son of Alphaeus next week.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Antimenes' Athena

#Athena #athene #antimenes #Athenianblackware #ancientgreekpottery  #Attic #ceramics

So there are lots of images of the goddess Athena
so why did I choose this one by the Antimenes Painter  to share?

A) It has have some wear n tear but that erosion show us the two colors of clay slip used to create the image.
B) clarity of detail notice the birds on top of the columns and the way the crest of her helmet stands out
C) the pose she's about to take action she's not just a woman posing in a costume this is Athena Warrior
D) the beautiful proportions of the vessel itself and how the banded ornament that frames the image works on the vessel.
E) I don't know if the potter was also the painter but this vessel is both practical with two well handled handles and a mouth wide enough for easy pouring and refilling and also decorative and pleasing to look at whether its standing on a shelf or table or being carried.

A lovely example of Classic Attic Ware ! Enjoy

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Galatians 3:28

Yes this are my comments on #CHARLOTTESVILLE


There is neither Jew nor Greek, 
there is neither slave or free,
there is neither male nor female



But if you bite and devour one another 
take heed that you are not consumed by one another

the works of the flesh ...
idolatry enmity strife jealousy dissension 

If you were at Charlottesville 
as any part of the AltRight you were in the wrong.

If you are whining about Antifa and defending Southern heritage you are on the wrong side


the fruit of the Spirit ...
peace patience kindness self-control 

If any one was a hero at Charlottesville it would be the UNARMED pacific counterprotestors !

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Textual Variants are not Errors - The Tale of the Paralytic.

3 version of the story of the Paralysed Man
and the textual variant issue.

I often have seen people claiming textual variations are errata that invalidates scripture.
While I don't think every Bible verse needs to be read or interpreted literally at the other extreme I think a copyist changing one word or syllable vastly alters or invalidates the content of a verse.
The Classics I add have the same problem people arguing over variant texts.

My example here is three passages from Matthew Mark and Luke dealing with the story of the Paralysed Man.Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:13-17, Luke 5:27-32.

The main points of variance are not Jesus actual words but in the background setting and description.

Matthew writes of Jesus being in his own (idian) city, mark states it was Capernaum, in a house/home, and Luke just doesn't bother.
Matthew and Mark use the word paralutikon while Luke uses a perfect passive particle but form the same stem, using his higher level of education and usage of a more literary variety of Koine Greek.

Another point of variation is whether the bed is described as a klinee or krabatton or klinidion.

The idea seems to be the same though that the bed that was lowered was something of matting or low pallet.

None of these differences alter the meaning of Jesus' words and message of healing.

His ability to forgive sins and heal a paralysed man are both expressions of his power and authority as the "son of Man"  (Matt. 9.6)

All three versions of the story end with a command to the paralytic.

"rise up lift up your bed and go / walk to your home!"

I note also all 3 versions agree that the scribes teachers scholars and pharisees were mainly alleging Jesus was blaspheming.

Finally the other main variant can be easily explained.

Matthew doesn't mention the roof being removed. Mark and Luke do.

Mark describes the roof being removed and dug through and Luke writes of them going through the tiles roofing the house or chamber after climbing onto the roof.

A simple explanation? An older roof of mud brick or thatch or maybe just one large dining room was being converted to being tile covered. The 4 carriers of the paralytic probably used building equipment lying around to climb up onto the roof and break through it. The roof tiles were still loose and one section was still thatched. Perhaps they had to move both to make a large enough opening to lower the bed.

Unless you have a one of those easy read versions notes at the bottom will tell you if there's another spelling or a different word used. My English RSV and Greek Aland NT both list variants.

Just use also a good commentary that honestly but simply discusses any variation in the Greek.

In most cases you'll find its more likely to differ from English because a verb is Aorist Subjunctiv eor Imperative  or the word doesn't translate exactly into English.

We're dealing with three different views of the same event.

Matthew may have been an eyewitness. Mark was either a very young man or minor follower hearing the story from others and Luke heard the story much later.

Don't get hung up on textual variances. Just use a good sensible commentary.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Klimt's Athena

#klimt #athena #painting

For a change some "modern art" that shows classical influences and references not only in its subject but its details: the steely grey eyes, the helmet and the Aegis with the Gorgon's face.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

APHIENTAI Forgive is letting go.

#aphientai is usually translated as Forgive. It does however literally mean let go or send away.
#apo+hieemi send forth discharge send our or away let go set free permit let dissolve

Both Matthew and Mark and Luke record a confrontation during which Jesus asks the scribes which is better to forgive sins or heal.

Noe that he does both and heals the paralytic man.

they have been let go of/for you the sins are his words here.

Yes I'm being rather literal but I'm emphasizing a point

The use of Forgive  is a good translation but we should think of why that word was chosen to translate Aphientai?

not just I forgive you but You are forgiven and freed!

Byzantine Page Layout

#greek #calligraphy #byzantine #illuminedmanuscript

 Another example of #Byzantine #manuscript page layout

Note the way capitals are used and the placement of illustrations to the right rather than the left of the page and the delightful image of the stork nesting on a pillar.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

delayed posts

Sorry folks I've been sick off and on for the last week with the sort of minor ailments that tempt one to overdo things so one is sick one day and better the next but not fully recovered

stomach bug upsetting my blood sugar levels wattle pollen allergy leading to sinusitis sniffles mild flu or pollen reaction ... generic weird aches and twinges

I'm functioning on green tea and boringly sensible soups brown rice etc since anything much spicier sweeter or stronger makes me sick again

maybe by the weekend I've have the energy and inspiration to make a decent post

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Byzantine Eagle

#byzantine #eagle #mosaic from the 5th or 6th century AD

This shows how Greek and Roman techniques endured into the Byzantine era. I would have thought this was Roman or Hellenistic at first sight but it is Byzantine era.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Pure and Clean - Katharos

#biblestudy #wordstudy #greeknewtestament #classicalgreek


Both the Ancient Greeks and Hebrews often thought disease was caused by sin, having no microscopes and not knowing about viruses or bacteria.

Hence we see the word Katharos and verbs derived from it translated as clean or pure.

IN #mark 1:40-45 we see a leper who could have had any one of several skin conditions asking Jesus to cleanse him - katharisai, an Aorist Infinitive.
Jesus's response is  katharisthee. I will you to be cleansed/purified!

Note that he asks the leper to have his cure verified by the priests but quietly.

We also read of purification rituals in Greek religion.

Further on in this chapter healing is linked to forgiveness
 HOWEVER this does NOT mean we should link ALL disease and disorders and disabilites

What Jesus does during his earthly ministry  is treat both body and mind /soul whatever the source of the ailment.

We however have access to modern medicine unlike the inhabitants of ancient Palestine, Greek, Roman, or Jewish, who had to rely on  herbs, minerals, or surgery, if they could afford them, or for demonic possession or mental illnesses, religious rituals that may or may not have worked.

Basic hygiene and changing into new clothes after bathing in mineral springs or baths with herbs added was one method of treatment hence the link of cleaniness and purity.

Remember whether your favorite Bible version or Greek drama uses cleanse or purify the Greek word is probably KATHAROS which can mean both cleanse physically and purify from sin or guilt.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Put a Sock in it!

#biblestudy #greeknewtestament


There's a verse in the #gospel of #mark that could well by translated by this very colloquial phrase.

Normally I don't favor OVER modernizing translations into paraphrase but in Mark 1:25 the verb used is NOT SIGAOO!

Yes its normally translated as Be silent but the #Aorist #Passive #Imperative is PHIMOW !

Jesus is literally telling the possessed man  to MUZZLE HIMSELF to shut up and become restrained like an animal wearing a muzzle!

Another excellent language of how he used STRONG language without using OBSCENITIES.

Possibly the person addressed actually had a mental illness or a compulsion to disrupt synagouge services or was schizophrenic or whatever.

The point of Mark recording this story was to emphasize Jesus' power and that he used it to HEAL as Mark goes on to relate how Jesus started healing other people who were sick or possessed, who had disorders of body, mind, and soul.

And it is a very lovely example of an Aorist Passive Imperative!

Reading both the English and Greek add depth and dare I say pleasure to one's Sunday  #biblestudy!

Mid week I have found some lovely examples of Greek Byzantine texts to share.

Join me. Follow me here or look for updates on my Twitter account ! @JVartndesign

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Minoan Bird Motif Vessel

Looking at this Minoan ouring Vessel I find myself wondering what the Minoans were using to apply color? The curved liens suggest some kind of brush but of what materials?

I do wonder if using a different kind of tool to apply colors might also be an explanation for the reversion to a more geometric style after the fall of Knossos and Mycenae. Or perhaps whichever animal the hairs came from for Minoan brushes was over hunted and came near to extinction?

Its splendid work matching the curves of the vessel and makes me wish more Minoan frescoes survived apart from Thera and Knossos so we could see more examples of Minoan painting.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Follow me

#gospel #mark #biblestudy #greeknewtestament

MARK ONE: 16 - 20

"and going along the sea of Galilee (walking along the shoreline parallel or very close to it) he saw Simon and Andreas the  brother of Simon casting nets into the sea. They were fishermen."

Casting is amphiballontas throwing around or over so its possible Simon and Andrew were not in a boat but wading through shallow water casting nets and then pulling them to shore unlike the sons of Zebedee working from a boat. There may be a hint here that James and John were a slighter high social class since hired servants are mentioned in association with their boat in verse 20?

Also the whole thing with Simon and Andreas having Greek names as Simon could be read and heard as Simo(n) snub nose or dolphin even or a Hebrew Aramaic name implying you are one who hears or listens.

And he spoke to them  the Jesus

 " Come here to (me implied) behind/after me!
And I will make you to become fishers of men."

and straightaway they let go of the nets following (as attendants) to him.

Deute is both a verb and an adverb. Used as as an adverb and command it derives from an older form of dew deusoo (see LSJ) and emphasizes there is a need for them to follow him.

Opisoo looks like a verb but derives from a noun.

The combination of both emphasizes that it is very important and urgent that Simon and Peter follow Jesus there and then!

What presence and power Jesus had to inspire both ordinary working guys to drop everything and walk after him and also get t6eh sons of a more prosperous fisherman who owned nets a boat and could afford to hire non family as crew to also follow him.

How many of us would be brave enough to do that also?

Next week mid week a rather lovely Minoan vase I just found a picture of while searching for something entirely different.

Sundays New Testament Greek Mid week unless I'm busy something on Hellenic culture.

Follow me too here or on twitter so you get regular updates ! Thank you

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Marks Mysterious Name

#bibletrivia #stmark #etymology #mark

While researching St Mark for the next bible study series I came across not one but three possible explanations of the meaning of Marks name.

Mark comes from Latin MARCUS.

Wikipedia favors the theory that Marcus was an alternative name for Mars from Etruscan or some other Italic dialect and may mean Warrior.

Some other scholars think Marcus is related to the #Mors stem meaning dying or mortal

Another theory is that it means hammer and that Marcellus small hammer derives from it and that for some reason the usage of a name replaced its usage as a common noun describing an object.

Marcus seems to have either John's Nickname (yes John was his Aramiac/Hebrew name) or the name he used for dealing with Roman bureaucracy.

It has also been suggested he was called this because possibly his father was a Roman citizen.

Take your pick.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

METANOEITE - change yourself


#wordstudy #gospel #greeknewtestament #classicalgreek

One of the first direct quotes from Jesus in Mark's Gospel is a statement that includes the word METANOEITE,( Mark 1:15) generally translated as REPENT, however its actually more a command to think again about previous actions and thoughts, you change because you have changed your mind or NOOS.

Note that Jesus doesnt say repent your sins but just METANOEITE!

You can check the LSJ online Lexicon site to confirm this but I want to recommend you look at one of Wesleys Sermons: VII of the 44 collected sermons. NO I'm not a Methodist but I found a copy of his sermons at a book sale and allowing for the 18th century context there is much sound common sense in them.

Some quotes from Wesley: " 'repent"; that is, know yourselves."

and further along "cease from evil, and learn to do well,

Modern readers may find his discussion of sin and guilt disturbing but bear in mind he also advises his listeners and readers to "be deeply sensible of this,"

Awareness of error is part of changing your mind.

Why cite Wesley. Remember he was a scholar who studied Latin and Greek before he became a preacher.

Metanoeite could also be literally translated as "Have after thoughts" or Consider your previous actions. Note also this is place before the words have faith in the Gospel.

Repentance is change. Metanoei Metaballei

Wednesday, 21 June 2017



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Sunday, 18 June 2017



#kairos #time #greeklanguage #oratory #biblestudy
There's a word at the beginning of Marks Gospel that also features in Classical Greek Literature and Oratory and Discussions of Rhetorical Technique


Mark 1:15 RSV translation "The Time is fulfilled ..." its Kairos not Khronos in Greek!

"Pepleerootai ho kairos " Why Kairos and not Khronos?

Kairos is not just time in general or season or event but the moment to take action, a kind of pivotal turning point during which action will have results whether its stabbing someone in a vital organ leading an attack giving a speech that's an exhortation to action or in the case of Marks Gospel, Jesus "heralding the good news from god" and telling people to repent and believe.

The use of kairos is an exhortation and a calling to action.

A final note on Kairos. The Romans translated it with a word that is the ancestor of our English word opportunity.

So whether you are reading about it in Aristotle Isocrates or the New Testament think about what sor tof "Time" is being referred to: Khronos or Kairos.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Athena and Hebe

#Athena #Hebe #greekvasepainting

A rare depiction of the Goddess Hebe shown here serving a drink to her sister Athena.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

MARK Begins with a Mosaic and a Manuscript

#byzantineart #manuscript #greeklettering #calligraphy #page layout

Lets begin looking at Mark with some Byzantine ART ! This post will also be of interest to calligraphers designers and typographers for the use of Greek letters so please scroll down!

First a page from a Byzantine manuscript 
Yes the Orthodox churches had a tradition of illumined manuscripts too!
I also picked this image because its an excellent and interesting example of design. 
I love the way the scribe has moved the iota up next to the gamma so that both words are balanced on the page and we also get a look at what sort of reading and writing desks  scribes used.

And here's how a mosaic artist dealt with lettering on a curved area.
Same letters but "heavier" and "bold" to make them stand out ! 

Next weekend more Mark and midweek perhaps Athena's owls.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Like a Dove and Textual Variants

#textual variant #gospels #greeknewtestament

A lot of people make a fuss about textual variants in the gospels however most of these variants are simply one of two words that do not effect doctrine.

Lets take Jesus' Baptism as an example.

My English version is the RSV

Matthew 3:16 behold the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him

Mark 1:10 saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove

Luke 3:21-22 the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form as a dove,

John 1:32 I (john the baptist) saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven

Really the only issue should be if there were any eye witnesses apart from John the Baptist?

All 4 accounts agreed the heavens opened that there was some sort of visual change in the air and that something came down katabaino that looked like a dove that the bystanders thought was the pneuma or spirit of god .

The main differences in Greek?

Matthew says open in aorist passive and uses hoosie instead of hoos and the greek says come down upon him erkhomenon epp autoon

Mark uses skhizoo split open  and eis instead of epi but eis can mean both into and onto

Luke gets more technical and uses somatikos plus eidei  and adds hagios holy to spirit

John emphasizes the Baptist as an eyewitness.

All 4 versions use katabaino All agree on a movement downwards materializing as something that looked like a dove that came down on Jesus.

And cynics might say it was a trained dove etc etc etc but the point is don't fuss over just one or two words when meanings are in concord?

Mid week back to Greek gods ... Next weekend either another word study or we start on Marks Gospel.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Themis of Rhamnous

There are surprising few images of the Titans and Titanesses in Greek art.

One of the rare exceptions is this statue of #Themis from a temple at Rhamnous in Attica which seems to have one of the few places a Titan was actively worshipped.

The position the missing arm and the surviving hand suggest he may have been holding objects in one or both hands perhaps looted because it was ivory or gold?

It dates to the Classical era.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The most important word in the Greek new Testament is surely

#agape #font #specialcharacters #greek

The most important word in the #greeknewtestament is surely this one?

ΑΓΑΠΗ αγαπη

αγαπη ΑΓΑΠΗ

ΑΓΑΠΗ αγαπη

and oh its feminine gender so a perfect bump for #idw 2018

Scroll down for a #howto #diy note !

How to generate Greek letters? In this example I was in Open Office and the fonts used to display AGAPE in Greek, are Times New Roman , New Athena Unicode, and Lucida Sans Unicode, and the method is to select and then use the Special Characters dialog box, scrolling down to the Basic Greek subset. Then I copy and paste the text into Google blogger.

Come back next Saturday or Sunday depending on your time zone and join us for Mark's Gospel.

I take or try to a very ecumenical approach in my comments on New Testament Greek.

Mid week I post mainly on Classical Greek art and literature, language and philosophy, and related topics, so do consider following regularly?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Heracles versus the birds.

#heracles #hercules battling the rather small  stymphalian cranes

And thats it! I have run out of ideas of bird related Classical Art !

Next sequence will be either Famous Greek or Hellenistic Queens or the Children of Zeus.

I have a birthday coming soon. If you're enjoyed or made use of the images I've found or the ideas I've shared please consider showing some appreciation?