ABC: Gallipoli 2015: Museum keen to give precious Bible to family of WWI soldier

A Victorian museum is trying to return a wartime Bible to descendants of an Adelaide man who served in World War I and was among the first soldiers to land at Gallipoli a century ago.

Ellen Reid and her daughter run a Bible museum at Saint Arnaud in country Victoria, and Mrs Reid picked up what appears to be Frank Cathro's Biblewhen she was the only online bidder for it.

She told 891 ABC Adelaide she would love to see the Bible go to the soldier's family rather than stay at the museum.

"On the inside front cover it says 'From Egypt', and it looks as though he's posted it back to Edith Cathro, who's from Grey Street, Kilkenny (an Adelaide suburb)," she said.

The museum curator said there was another name in the holy book which might also give someone a useful clue.

"In the back of the little New Testament it's got the name Colin Cathro, 5 Chapman Court in Mile End. From what I can see [in online records],Colin Cathro served in the Second World War," she said.

Mrs Reid said millions of Bibles were given to those who served their country.

"The Bible Society produced about 40 million little New Testaments and parts of Bibles during the First World War," she said.

"I've been collecting Bibles since 1981 and I have a military section in the museum.

Mrs Reid's investigations found Frank Cathro survived the Gallipoli campaign and had daughters, which is why the family name had been harder to trace beyond the war years.

She said Frank returned to Australia after his war service.

"He was wounded twice, he had a gunshot wound and he was hit by a bomb, and repatriated medically unfit in 1916," she said.

"There are other Cathro brothers who were with him, I think Harry and Richard, they left [for the war] one in 1915 and one in 1916 and both returned."

Mrs Reid said anyone able to shed light on her hunt for the former soldier's descendants could contact her via the museum website.


Things the Bible Doesn’t Say (But You Thought It Did)

Apples, unicorns and Jesus’ childhood are all missing from the Bible. Why?

The Bible is the most hotly debated and influential book of all time. Christians vehemently disagree with one another about what the Bible says and doesn’t say; which Biblical laws are eternally proscriptive and which are defeasible; and what the Bible actually means and who gets to decide. But even apart from these debates there’s a lot of blank space in the Bible—places where a lack of information has led readers and interpreters to supply extraneous information. Add to that all the things people think are in the Bible but aren’t and you have a whole different book.

To start off, there’s the insertion of mammals and botanicals in places where they shouldn’t be. Most people grow up learning that Eve took an apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, gave it to Adam, leading to the ejection of humanity from the Garden of Eden. But there’s no apple in the Garden—there’s only a piece of fruit. The interpretation that it’s an apple sneaks in in the King James Version of the Bible.

And there isn’t any mention of unicorns processing twosies by twosies, hooves–a-clattering onto Noah’s Ark. Once again we have fearless band of translators to thank. The English “unicorn” is a translation of a Latin rendering of a Greek word that sounds unicornish (monokeros—one-horned). The Greek is itself a translation of the Hebrew word for wild ox (re’em). From wild ox to unicorn in three easy steps—that’s one heck of a makeover.

Jonah also wasn’t swallowed by a whale. Both the Hebrew original and the Septuagint (the earliest Greek translation) are clear that he was swallowed by a “big fish” or “sea creature.” Even the KJV describes Jonah as being swallowed by a “great fish,” but when translating a verse in Matthew about Jonah it suddenly switches to “whale” for no good linguistic reason. The mistranslation doesn’t even come from the right testament. Of course, logically we might wonder if other sea creatures would be big enough to swallow Jonah whole, but if we’re bringing logic into things then I suspect we all have some questions about the climate and fresh water supply in the stomach lining of earth’s biggest mammal.

It’s not just plot details that are missing; there are “Biblical sayings” that have nothing to do with the Bible. In addition to “Watch out for that whale!” “Look at that unicorn!” and “What a delicious apple!” we can add, “God helps those who help themselves.” This common justification for shirking social duty likely comes from Aesop’s fable of “Hercules and the Waggoner,” and probably found its way into our theological lexicon via Benjamin Franklin. Protestant favorite “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is a loose approximation of a saying by Mahatma Ghandi in 1929.

There are many things the Bible doesn’t actually say that tradition has read into the text. But some of these Biblical omissions are actually purposeful. In her recent book Silent Statements, New Testament Professor Michal Beth Dinkler writes that silence and narrative omissions are important rhetorical tool for Biblical authors.

There are many things the Bible doesn’t actually say that tradition has read into the text.

Take, for example, the complete void surrounding the childhood of Jesus and John the Baptist in the Gospel of Luke. Apart form a single incident in which Jesus preaches in the Temple, we don’t know anything about what either individual was doing before John started baptizing. It’s an odd omission, because ancient biographies often included childhood stories. Dinkler argues that the gap isn’t the result of a dearth of information, but rather a desire to show John the Baptist fulfilling the prophecies made about him by the angel Gabriel. As she writes in her book, “The absence of any childhood stories of the Baptist focuses the reader immediately on the narrative fulfillment of the prophetic picture painted before his birth.” Silence is strategic.

The same thing happens with all of the scenes in which Jesus appears to be evasive. In another famous story in Luke, a sinful woman anoints Jesus and dries his feet with her hair and Jesus forgives her sins. Those present were irked and said to each other “Who is this who even forgives sins?” In Sunday school we learn that the answer is God or—bonus points for showing your work—Jesus himself. That might be right, but Luke never answers the question. He just lets it hang there.

Dinkler told me that silence is not “the unambiguous opposite of the sound of speech” but instead “creates puzzlements that pique curiosity… and draws readers more deeply into the interpretive process, since they must fill in the narratological gaps themselves.”

If she is correct, then those of us prone to bouts of passive-aggressive monosyllabic answers should rejoice: even the Bible agrees that a well-placed silence does a lot for one’s argument. In the end the things that the Bible doesn’t say are just as interesting as the things it does.


A 350-year-old copy of the Tanakh finds its ‘twin’ at Haifa University

tanakhA rare copy of the Tanakh (Old Testament) that reached Israel in a circuitous fashion and was donated to the Haifa University by the late film producer and director Micha Shagrir, was reunited with its “twin,” a copy of the same edition that was already in the Rare Books Department of the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Library.

When Shagrir informed the staff of the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Library that he wanted to donate a 350-year-old copy of the Tanakh, the staffers welcomed the idea, pleased that they could add another antique edition of the Book of Books to the library’s collection. But they were quite surprised to discover that the volume, which had been printed in Germany in 1677, was a near-duplicate of a Tanakh the library already had. 

The two volumes are not identical. While the copy the library owned was narrow with almost no margins, the new copy had wide margins, in which there were numerous notes written in Latin, in tiny handwriting, by no less than 10 different readers in the 17th and 18th centuries. The editor of the edition and source of the commentary that accompanies the printed text was David Clodil (1644-1684), a theologian and Hebraist – a Renaissance-era scientific discipline in which Christian scholars studied the Hebrew sources of Christianity in depth.

How the volume made its way from a 17th century Frankfurt printing press to finding its twin in Haifa is a fascinating story. As Shagrir told it, a month after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat came to Israel in November 1977, Shagrir and a group of other Israelis made a secret trip to Egypt. Towards the end of the visit, as he was walking through the streets of Cairo, he found himself in a store that sold antique books. It turned out that the proprietor was not Egyptian, but Armenian, and he was a big fan of a film Shagrir had recently released about the Armenian genocide.

When the shopkeeper discovered that he was speaking to the producer of that film, he gave Shagrir a wrapped copy of a book, but made him promise not to open it until he returned to Israel. When he returned and opened the package, he was stunned to find the ancient volume. So nearly 350 years after it was printed, and 37 years after it arrived in Israel, the volume of the Tanakh was reunited with the copy held by the University. Shagrir passed away February 4 at the age of 77.


The Bible's Influence: The Bible as Cultural Influence

Every year two million visitors file past the famed Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. As they look at the cracked bell, they read these words: "Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof." The inscription comes from the Bible (Leviticus 25:10). When presidents of the United States raise their right hand to take the oath of office at their inauguration, they place their left hand on a copy of the Bible.

When Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., and delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he said, “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Those words come directly from the Bible (Amos 5:24).

Why does the Bible appear in these places? Because it is the central and foundational book of Western culture, including American culture. Everywhere we turn in the cultural past, we find the Bible. We cannot avoid it if we tried, and we will not understand our past without a knowledge of the Bible.

George Lindbeck, former professor of theology at Yale University, once described the cultural position of the Bible in American culture this way: “Its stories, images, conceptual patterns, and turns of phrase permeated the culture from top to bottom. This was true even for illiterates and those who did not go to church, for knowledge of the Bible was transmitted not only directly by its reading, hearing, and ritual enactment, but also indirectly by an interwoven net of intellectual, literary, artistic, folkloric, and proverbial traditions. There was a time when every educated person, no matter how professedly unbelieving or secular, knew the actual text from Genesis to Revelation”

The evidences of this cultural influence permeated every sphere of life. Theodore Roosevelt correctly observed of the English Bible that “no other book of any kind ever written in English has ever so affected the whole life of a people.”

One of the most important spheres of influence is the English language itself. One index to this is the familiar sayings that come straight from the Bible (and of course everything that we say about the historic influence of the Bible is a comment on the King James Version). “The salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). “The signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3). “The root of the matter” (Job 19:28). “Old wives’ fables” (1 Timothy 4:7).

When American pioneers rode westward with two books in their covered wagons, they signaled the foundational importance of those two books for the civilization that they hoped to preserve amid circumstances that threatened it. The two books were the King James Bible and the complete works of William Shakespeare. Part of what was being preserved was a standard of excellence for the English language.

Among the cultural influences of the Bible, none is more obvious than literature. English and American literature scarcely exist apart from the Bible. Titles of literary works can be regarded as the tip of the iceberg: The Power and the Glory. Measure for Measure. The Sun Also Rises. East of Eden. Absalom, Absalom. Evil under the Sun. Literary scholar T. R. Henn has written that the Bible “becomes one with the Western tradition, because it is its single greatest source.”

An obvious conclusion to be drawn from the centrality of the Bible in literature is that the Bible should be part of every literature curriculum. In fact, Northrop Frye, the most influential literary scholar of the second half of the twentieth century, believed that the Bible should form the basis of literary education. He famously wrote that “the Bible should be taught so early and so thoroughly that it sinks straight to the bottom of the mind, where everything that comes along later can settle on it.” Frye’s vision was never fully realized, but it remains a beacon toward which we can aspire.



President Obama Misquotes Bible

President ObamaPresident Barack Obama has garnered much attention for misquoting of the Bible during remarks made in defense of his immigration policy executive order.

At a speech made on Tuesday in Nashville, President Obama cited the Bible when pitching his plan for immigration reform.

"The good book says, don't throw stones in glass houses or make sure we're looking at the log in our eye before we are pointing out the mote in other folks' eyes," remarked Obama.

On social media and elsewhere, people were quick to note that the first part of Obama's citing of the Bible does not appear in the Bible.

"Pretty sure the Bible has nothing about throwing stones in glass houses. But please correct me if I'm wrong," posted Charlie Spiering on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Judging by the usage of the word "mote", which in older English means speck, Obama was likely quoting the King James Version of the Bible, first published in 1611.

The proverb that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones has a complicated past, with variations of the phrase appearing in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and Benjamin Franklin.

The second part of the citation by Obama does indeed exist in the Bible and can be found in a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye," reads the biblical text as rendered by the New International Version.

This is not the first time that Obama has made an appeal to the Holy Bible when arguing in favor of his recent push for immigration reform.

In a speech made last month regarding the controversial executive order on immigration, Obama correctly cited verses from the Old Testament about welcoming the stranger among us.

"Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger –- we were strangers once, too," said Obama.

"We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship."

Numerous passages of the Bible command that believers welcome the foreigners among them, including Deuteronomy 10:19 and Leviticus 19:34.


Cathedral’s hunt for stolen Bible pages

winchester cathedralCathedral’s hunt for stolen Bible pages worth £1m

Eight could have been taken in past 150 years

Winchester Cathedral wants to track down eight Medieval illuminations that are missing from the greatest surviving 12th-century English Bible. These may have been stolen in the past 150 years, so there is a reasonable chance that they survive, probably unrecognised in a private collection.

The Winchester Bible was commissioned by the cathedral’s bishop in 1160. Christopher de Hamel, a specialist in Medieval manuscripts, describes it as “the finest English illuminated manuscript outside the British Library”. It remained in Winchester and was never used as a working Bible, because not all of the illuminations had been completed.

In an essay on the Winchester Bible, published this month to coincide with an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Roland Riem, the cathedral’s vice-dean, reveals details of one of the thefts. On 16 August 1927, the thief wrote a bizarre letter to Francis Madge, the cathedral’s librarian, admitting that while he was being shown the Bible, he had removed an illuminated letter “S” from one of the manuscript’s pages. “That initial ‘S’ now ranks as the cornerstone of my possessions,” the thief wrote. The “S”, from the prologue to the Book of Joel, is indeed missing.

The library also has a note that was written in 1907, recording the fact that an indignant verger had been offered a bribe to look away while someone removed “a souvenir” from the Bible, although the would-be thief was presumably thwarted on this occasion.

Riem is keen to find the missing illuminations. “If the initials were removed within the past century or so, then there is a good chance that some still survive, but without being linked to the Winchester Bible. Tracking down these lost illuminations would be a marvellous contribution to the story of this great Bible’s conservation and interpretation.”

The eight missing initials are E, H, P, S and O (two initials, one cut in a circular form); an illumination of Jonah, probably emerging from the whale; and one unknown initial.

Six artists are believed to have worked on the Winchester Bible. Most of the lost illuminations, all of which have text on the reverse, are by the Master of the Genesis Initial, who is distinguishable by his robust figures with intense, frowning faces, painted using a strong palette of red and blue.

Jo Bartholomew, the cathedral’s current librarian, says it is “possible that the initials were all removed at one time by someone who particularly liked that artist”.

A ninth initial, for the Vision of Obadiah, was stolen but later recovered. It was identified at Sledmere House, East Yorkshire, in 1948. The cathedral bought it back for £400 and stitched it into the text (as shown above). A market source says that single initials from the Winchester Bible could now be worth up to £1m on the open market.

The book’s double-page frontispiece was also removed, possibly when the volume was rebound in 1820. The frontispiece was once owned by a Florentine book dealer, who offered it for £100 to William Morris, but the craftsman could not afford it. The leaf was bought by John Pierpont Morgan in 1912, and remains in the Morgan Library & Museum in New York. It is being lent to the Metropolitan for its forthcoming show, which will be the first time that the Winchester Bible has left England.


Fleet Bible signing a Royal tradition

Fleet Bible signing a Royal tradition

Fleet-Bible-PicLocked in a safe in Sydney's St Philip's Church, the Fleet Bible has been signed by every monarch to visit Australia in the past century.

In some cases the Bible was taken to Government House for the occasion.

Church rector Reverend Justin Moffatt says the book has an "extraordinary place in the European history of Australia".

Brought out in the First Fleet, the large leather-bound Bible is inscribed with the address of Botany Bay.

It is believed to have been used by chaplain Richard Johnson to conduct the first Christian service in the colony.

The morning prayer service would have provided solace for the convicts after their long passage from England, Reverend Moffatt said.

Photo: Signatures from English royalty adorn a Bible that came to Australia from the United Kingdom on the First Fleet in 1788. (Church Hill Anglican)

The Bible is charred in places, bearing the marks of a fire in 1798 that destroyed Sydney's first church.


Paying homage to this history, every Royal to visit Australia has visited the church on York Street to leave their mark.

The first, in 1920, was Edward VIII, who is renowned for his scandalous abdication of the throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

George VI - known as Albert or Bertie - and his wife, Elizabeth, also signed the book.

Their daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, signed it in 1954 when she was on a whirlwind tour of Australia, visiting 57 cities and towns in about as many days.

Newlyweds Prince Charles and Diana penned their names in 1983.

"I'm very happy that Will and Kate have taken the time to look, understand and sign this precious book," Reverend Moffatt said.

"[Christianity is] at the heart of the First Fleet and at the heart of the settlement in Sydney.

"Very few people know about this Bible and this prayer book which is a pity."

Photo: The Bible came to Australia from the United Kingdom with the First Fleet. (Church Hill Anglican)


Was the Bible right? All life on earth 'may have come from clay'

All life on earth may have come from clay according to new scientific research, just as the Bible, Koran and even Greek mythology have been suggesting for thousands of years.

The latest theory is that clay - which is basically a combination of minerals in the ground - acts as a breeding laboratory for tiny molecules and chemicals which is "absorbs like a sponge".

The process takes billions of years, during which the chemicals react to each other to form proteins, DNA and, eventually, living cells, scientists told the journal Scientific Reports.

Biological Engineers from Cornell University's department for Nanoscale Science in New York state believe clay 'might have been the birthplace of life on Earth.'

It is a theory dating back thousands of years in many cultures, though perhaps not using the same scientific explanation. In religious texts from ancient Egypt to Chinese legends, God moulds clay into the shape of man and then breathes life into him through his nostrils.

Even Genesis talks of man being born from dust and returning to dust when he dies, with scholars translating this from the ancient Hebrew as also meaning clay or the earth itself.

In seawater, clay forms a hydrogel - a mass of tiny spaces which soak up other minerals, chemicals and tiny molecules from its surrounding area.

Professor Dan Luo of Cornell said: "In early geological history clay hydrogel provided a confinement function for biomolecules and biochemical reactions.

"Over billions of years, chemicals confined in those spaces could have carried out the complex reactions that formed proteins, DNA and eventually all the machinery that makes a living cell work."

The conclusions are based on experiments by the researchers using synthetic hydrogels, adding DNA, amino acids and enzymes and simulating the production of proteins.

While it may be one theory on the creation of life on Earth, it may also have modern and moneysaving applications for drug manufacturing.

The report added: "Why consider clay? It's dirt cheap. Better yet, it turned out unexpectedly that using clay enhanced protein production."


How a Bible translation is preserving the Pitjantjatjara language

Reading the BibleIN 1943, two Christian missionaries living in mud huts among the Western Desert people at the remote outpost of Ernabella, central Australia, set about translating the King James Bible into Pitjantjatjara, an ancient language that had never been written down.

It took a year, and many arguments, for Reverend Bob Love and Ronald Trudinger to produce their first draft of the New Testament's Gospel of Mark, Tjukurpa Palja Markaku. Seventy years later, a 21st-century missionary named Paul Eckert sits at the dining-room table of a house in that same isolated community, still toiling away on the project his predecessors started. The world has passed into a new millennium and Ernabella has changed its name to Pukatja since the first words of the Pitjantjatjara Bible were written, and still it remains only half-complete.

Eckert, a 60-year-old emissary of the Bible Society, is working on this chilly winter night in the home of Yanyi Bandicha, a genial 62-year-old Aboriginal elder and one of 30 Bible translators scattered across the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands. Right now the pair of them are poring over a knotty passage from the Book of Leviticus that deals with arcane 2000-year-old Hebrew strictures on the correct offering of sacrifices to God: And the Lord called unto Moses and spoke unto him out of the tabernacle of meeting, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock ...

"There's some really big words and ideas in there," says Bandicha with a shy laugh, sitting beneath a vibrantly coloured tapestry of Jesus at the Last Supper. On the table is her annotated printout of Leviticus, rendered in modernised English, alongside the latest edition of the Pitjantjatjara Bible, with its red faux-leather cover embossed with a gold crucifix and its title, Tjukurpa Palya. Like most of the elders in this isolated community of 400-odd souls, Bandicha was raised a Christian and schooled by Presbyterian missionaries who taught her to read both Pitjantjatjara and English. As a child in the 1950s she grew up singing hymns in her traditional tongue and reading the gospels that Love and Trudinger had translated. Yet it wasn't until she was 50 that the entire New Testament was finally published in Pitjantjatjara. Now she and her collaborators have resolved to tackle the remaining two-thirds of the Bible; since 2011 they've been working their way through the 23,000 verses of the Old Testament.

It's the Mount Everest of translation tasks, a project that seems quixotic on any number of counts. For one, traditional languages are in decline in this northwest corner of South Australia, where Aboriginal schoolchildren are taught largely in English. Christianity, too, has been steadily losing its influence since the church ceded control to community self-management, beginning in the 1970s. The whole missionary enterprise, with its roots in colonial notions of "civilising the savages", seems anachronistic in an age of satellite TV. Yet Bible translation has some high-profile support from indigenous leaders, who regard it not only as a crucial way of saving languages from extinction but, more broadly, as a means of looking afresh at the much-maligned missionary era.

The paradoxes of that era are palpable in Pukatja, Amata and the other communities of the APY lands, where Christianity is the dominant faith but traditional law and custom still hold strong. On Sundays, black preachers deliver sermons about a whitefella God who created the world single-handedly in six days. Yet in the community art centres, those same elders paint a different creation story of giant spirit-beings who shaped the contours of the desert plains and carved out the surrounding Musgrave Ranges. At night in Pukatja, the sounds of Christian hymn-singing drift on the still evening air from the mud-brick Uniting Church, still the most impressive building in the community. But at funerals another sound is unleashed - the anguished wailing of traditional sorry-business that has echoed across the desert for millennia.

Eckert, a fluent Pitjantjatjara speaker who has been working with the Western Desert people since he came here as a young schoolteacher in 1973, sidesteps the question of how Christian and Aboriginal spiritual beliefs can be reconciled. People are free to choose those parts of the Bible that mean something to them, he avows. "If people ask me a question like, 'How does this fit in with our Dreaming?' I would say, 'Think about the Scriptures and see how God enlightens you'," he says.

It's a mildly disingenuous answer, of course - missionary work is above all about recruiting, and even the name the Church authorities bestowed on the Pitjantjatjara Bible seems freighted with ambiguity. Tjukurpa Palya is commonly translated as "The Good Message", yet it could also have a more loaded meaning - "The Good Dreaming" or perhaps "The Good Law". Certainly Bandicha professes that she no longer has much time for the old beliefs her ancestors once adhered to. "Some people consider those stories as superior, I guess," she says, speaking in her own language, as Eckert interprets. "But I don't put them in the same category as the Scriptures."

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