Notes on Genesis (i)

‘Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”…So God made man; in the image of God he made him; male and female he made them.’ (Gen 1:26f) This is a very dense passage. Among other things that could be said, I’d like to note three matters. The narrative in Genesis places the creation of […]

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Burckhardt’s Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy

It’s good having the time and intellectual energy to reread some classic works, among them this study, which I last looked at when an undergraduate. Burckhardt was a Swiss German, and in this work, first published in German in 1860, he produced one of the major interpretations of Renaissance Italy. Basing his study on a close reading of many texts, he produced some […]

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‘I believe in one God…’

In what way do we believe in God? The expression at the beginning of the Creed, translated into English as ‘believe in’, occurs a number of times in the New Testament. John the Theologian mentions believing in the name of Christ (1:12; 2:23), and represents Christ as speaking of those who believe in him and his Father (14:1). In other words, ‘believing in’ […]

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Hometown news

Word has come that, after trading for 97 years, the last of the big family owned stores that used to line the main street of the town in which I grew up is soon to close its doors. It dealt in clothing, manchester and haberdashery, a range of goods, or at least words, that may suggest it had fallen a little behind the times, […]

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Mary maligned?

A woman is said to have cried out to Christ ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which nursed you!’ It’s the kind of sentimental piety we can all do without, and in his reply Christ points beyond it: ‘More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’ (Luke 11:27f) Not surprisingly, […]

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Some sopranos

Some years ago a friend gave me a CD in which two English sopranos, Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb, sing duets and solos by Monteverdi; the first seven items on it, all in Italian, are secular, and the following seven, in Latin, are sacred. The singing of the former bowled me over at first hearing. Her voice is by no means big, lacking the force which allowed Joan Sutherland […]

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‘Eternal life’

In the Divine Liturgy, shortly before the priest commemorates Christ’s actions at the Last Supper, he quotes some words of his occurring in St John’s Gospel, according to which God gave his only-begotten Son so that anyone who believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). How are we to take the words ‘eternal life’ (Greek zoen aionion)? You […]

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William Gibson

A taste for an edgy kind of cyberpunk fiction may not be an elevated one, but the novels of William Gibson have excited me since I began reading them. This is partly because of the fast pace of the action, appropriately laid out in very short chapters, partly because he writes of damaged and vulnerable characters in the power of intimidating […]

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Our faces

Despite his belief that the things people spoke, thought or dreamed about could betray deeper and often unpleasant realities, Freud is said to have observed that sometimes a cigar was just a cigar. So too, despite the use of the Greek word for face (prosopon) to signify person (see posting of 12 Jan), sometimes it simply means face. The word frequently occurs in the Bible, […]

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Problems with polyphony

It would be easy to make a case that the quality of the music composed in England in the early modern period was as high as that of its literature. Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Thomas Morley, John Dowland and Orlando Gibbons were very nearly contemporaries, and wrote music as good as that being produced anywhere. I love what they can achieve with […]

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