Thursday, May 21st, 2020
Up front, a recommendation: If you’re reading this, I hereby suggest you listen to the audio version. Then you can hear all my pronunciation mistakes and my attempted corrections.
My wife frequently corrects my pronunciation of words. Admittedly, I do need it, since I am frequently messing up words. Even worse, I often revert to an erroneous pronunciation of a word after hearing the correct way to say it. In my defense, I just say it how it looks in print. They taught me to read using phonics, circa 1975-76. Nevertheless, although I am never a quick study, my wife patiently corrects and re-corrects my mispronunciations, as need be.
To misquote Shel Silverstein’s poem Smart, “She just closes her eyes and shakes her head, too proud of me to speak.”
Now I need to make a mispronunciation confession and correction. On May 11th I posted a blog entry entitled The Mark. If you happened to listen to the audio version, you were therein subjected to a repetitive and odious mispronunciation of the name Decius. Throughout, I kept saying DC-us, because that’s how it looks in print, thank you. But the correct pronunciation is actually Dee-schus or Day-schus. It’s something like the word delicious with the middle removed. My apologies, then, to Emperor Decius and everyone who may have suffered the trauma of listening through that unedited recording. So sorry.
The word quintessential serves as another sad example of my mispronunciation tendency. The right way to say the second syllable is “tuh” not “tee.” Invariably, I say “tee” — quin-TEE-sen-schull, because that’s how it looks. Simple phonics, but oh-so wrong. It’s “tuh” not “tee.”
May I introduce to you a couple more phonics-unfriendly Graeco-Roman names? One is Josephus, the other, Eusebius. Not Jo-sep-hus and Eww-seb-i-us, but Joe-C-Fuss and You CBS. If you don’t already know their names, you do now. These two rank way up there as very important historical historian dudes. In future posts, I will necessarily reference them. Both of them were historians who wrote shortly after the New Testament was written and circulated. Both of them wrote in Ancient Greek, but lived during the Roman era.
If you’re American, it might be helpful to think of Josephus as a Benedict Arnold. He switched sides to save his skin. Many of his people consider him a loathsome traitor, even now. During the Jewish rebellion against Rome, Josephus received a commission as a Jewish general. Galilee was his to defend. However, he failed miserably. In his final battle, General Josephus and forty of his men were cornered by the Romans in a cave. Rather than surrender, they decided to take turns killing each other. The last man was supposed to then commit suicide. Josephus was the last man standing. But he did not commit suicide. Instead, Josephus left the cave and surrendered to the Romans. He offered them his services. As low as that may have been, Josephus went on to become a first-rate historian. Most of what we know about the Jewish rebellion and Jewish history of that era comes directly from Flavius Josephus. He was an eyewitness to the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70AD. That’s all super-important stuff, if Revelation is an interest of yours. So please remember Josephus. I will refer to him on occasion.
Chronologically, Brother Eusebius comes not long after General Josephus. Eusebius was both a theologian and a historian of the early Church. Like Josephus, Eusebius fills in gaping historical chasms with crucially important accounts. A whole lot of what we know about the first several centuries of Christianity comes from Eusebius, and Eusebius alone. Without Eusebius’s writings, a lot of early Christian history would be formless and void. Significantly, Eusebius was also familiar with Josephus’s work. Eusebius accurately quotes Josephus, which makes Eusebius all the more credible as a historian. So please do remember Brother Eusebius. I will refer to him on occasion.
Two final historical connections ought to be made here. First, a quintessential character in the Book of Revelation is the Beast. The Beast is the second person of Revelation’s pseudo-trinity, and thus Christ’s direct diabolical opposite. General Josephus gives us information about an indisputable forerunner of the Beast. His name is Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a Seleucid Dynasty Monarch who desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and tried to stamp out Judaism.
Parenthetically, yes, I find his name hard to pronounce. A professor of mine once laughed aloud at my mispronunciation of Antiochus. Phonics — I am forever hooked on and thrown off by phonics.
A second connection I will make is to point out some additional Revelation-qualified beasties. Brother Eusebius gives us essential information about the Roman emperors who persecuted Christians. In so doing, these emperors behaved much like ferocious arena animals and so qualified as symbolic beasts. These beasties would especially be Nero, Domitian, and Decius.
Not everyone agrees with me that Antiochus, Nero, Domitian, and Decius are forerunners and prototypes of an ultimate end-times Beast. However, if they studied Church history, they probably would. I will try to convince you of the validity of my position in future posts.
Thank you for your patience with my atrocious mispronunciations, and please stay tuned.