Monday, June 05, 2006

Pentecost

When I'm visiting the family in Cardiff, I go to church with my Mum and Dad on Sunday. (From a vestigual sense of filial obligation? Discuss.)

Last Sunday being Pentecost, the Gospel was from Acts 2.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and
proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

It struck me when I was listening to this that, of course Mesopotamia is modern Iraq, so I decided to look up the other antique and unfamiliar place names on wikipedia.

It turns out that Parthians were from modern Iran as were the Medes, and Elamites, while the Judeans (obviously again) hailed from modern Israel.

Cappadocians were from modern Turkey, just like people from Pontus and Phrygia and Pamphylia and I can hazard a guess at Egypt and Libya as well as Cretes and Arabians when it comes to the map.

What a wonderful response that is to contemporary gibberish about the otherness of folk from those places and to the self satisfied nonsense that we live in uniquely multi-cultural times. It is also striking how similar the region suggested by the list is to the empire carved out 300 or so years earlier by Alexander the Great.

I'm also intrigued by "strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes". The wikipedia entry on proselytes makes me wonder if this list does not represent some sort of array of degrees of Jewish observance, but I've no clue who the "strangers of Rome" might be.
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