Monthly Archives: September 2012

Is Middle East News Coverage Balanced?

Western readers should put their critical thinking hats on and be very careful when reading or viewing Middle East affairs — looks can be deceiving.

For example, take the Israeli-Hezballah conflict that happened in the summer of 2006. Three different Hebrew editions of the same article on Haaretz’s website appeared over 48 hours, with each subsequent one including less definitive information.

This is exactly what happened with Joav Stern’s article published on Haaretz’s Hebrew online website on July 29, 2006.

In the original version Stern included Hassan Nasrallah’s speech made on the Lebanese Television station, Al-Manar as the lead-off paragraph. He cited Nasrallah’s conditions for a ceasefire, the return of prisoners, restoration of the geographical area of the Shebat Farms from Israel and more… This can’t be verified any longer because within 12 hours this statement was removed from Stern’s article.

The new header paragraph copy was posted by July 29 on or before 10:00 pm with Nasrallah’s conditions of ceasefire removed. After this paragraph, the rest of the body copy remained virtually the same.

Then within another 12 hours it changed for the third time, and this time it appeared to be the final copy. The header paragraph related to Lebanese protesters in Beirut exhorting Hassan to bomb Tel-Aviv.

After the new header paragraph, the body copy is virtually the same.

The final copy is a big shift from the original. It changed from an article covering a political problem of prisoner exchange, and historic territorial rights between Israel and its neighbors to one where Israel was under attack. The first one could potentially inspire the international community to broker a deal on land between the disputing parties. The final copy emphasized Israel defending its existence. The western world normally sides with Israel when its sovereignty is threatened, and it worked. Nasrallah’s demand for land repatriation was permanently erased from the western mindset.

There were no instructions or digital signature identifying that this article had been revised or modified. Haaretz was contacted by email to give a detailed account of why this occurred without notification but never replied.

I was not looking for this outcome at all, being a slow Hebrew reader and interrupted often, I had to go to this page frequently over a 24 hour time-frame to complete reading it. This is why I discovered it was changing. It was completely by chance.

Also, this discovery cannot be substantiated, and only remains in the realm of opinion. The article was not saved at the key periods of the changes by me.

Definitive answers on why this article changed three times and switched its emphasis are hard to come by. One can only hypothesize.

It could be that this is an acceptable practice to change an article without notice within the Israeli community. However, this argument is weak. Haaretz is well known for sticking to professional international journalist standards.

Another option is that the military censor requested it be changed. The military censor has a lot of power in Israel and this is not out of the question.

The English edition of the article in Haaretz never went through this same evolution. It was a general summary article that was not based on the Hebrew edition.

It is not fair to only exemplify Israel as marketing their own brand of stories to win international attention. It is certain that newspapers throughout the Arabic speaking world do the same thing. I don’t know Arabic and can’t pinpoint any specific case. This is a problem of human nature that transcends all races, societies and religions.

This example should warn any readers or viewers of Middle East affairs, that whatever coverage is made on the issues of the day, don’t be gullible. It may be rhetoric, marketing of a sovereign brand, or misdirecting from the real issues.

Gregory Nazianzus’ Oration 41:15-16 in the Latin

A comparison of the Latin texts of Gregory Nazianzus’ Oration 41:15-16 On Pentecost.

The Latin provides some much needed clues on how to understand the mysterious Gregory Nazianzus text on the nature and workings of the tongues miracle in the Book of Acts. It may also provide answers on how the interpretation of this important text evolved over the centuries.

Rufinus

This Italian monk, historian and theologian penned a Latin translation of Gregory’s work in the late fourth, early fifth century. It may be one of the oldest texts on the subject available today.

[Pg. 160] “15. Loquebantur igitur uariis et diuersis linguis apostoli et proferebatur sermo ignotus usque ad praesens ipsis illis qui loquebantur. et hoc erat signum quod infidelibus populis olim fuerat praenuntiatum, cum dicitur quia in aliis linguis et aliis labiis loquar populo huic, et nec sic me exaudient, dicit dominus. sed requiritur in hoc loco, quomodo unusquisque audiebant linguis suis loquentes eos magnalia dei: utrum hi qui loquebantur diuersis sermonibus uniuscuisque linguae hoc quod dicebatur proferebant, id est, ut uerbi causa unusquisque eorum loquens una lingua rursum intermissa hac iterum se ad aliam conuerteret et inde iterum ad aliam et sic per multas uel per omnes linguas percurreret; [Pg. 161] an in eo potius erat mirabile, quod sermo eorum qui loquebantur, qualibet lingua fuisset pronuntiatus, unicuique audienti secundum suam linguam intellegebatur, ut uerbi causa uno quocumque apostolo in ecclesia dicente — necesse enim erat tacentibus reliquis unum loqui et sermonem unum ad auditum omnium peruenire –, qui sermo hanc in se uim haberet, ut, cum diuersarum gentium auditores adessent, unusquisque secundum suam linguam illius ipsius unius sermonis, qui ab apostolo fuerat pronuntiatus, susciperet auditum et caperet intellectum, nisi si forte secundum hoc magis uideatur audientium esse miraculum quam loquentium. hi autem qui ita loquebantur etiam ebrii esse ab incredulis putabantur nescientibus scilicet audire sancti spiritus uoces.

16. Admiranda quidem fuit et illa linguarum antiqua diuisio, cum ad turris superbam et inpiam constructionem male sibi sociata iniquorum unanimitas concordabat. sed discissione uocis atque in ignotum sonum uersae inpiae conspirationis reprimuntur conatus. uerum multo admirabilior est ista diuisio. quod enim fuerat tunc ab una in plures sibi inuicem ignotas discrepantesque diuisum, id nunc per plures ad unam concordem et consonam reuocatur. et sunt quidem dona diuersa, sed datur etiam discretiones donum, quo discerni et intelligi possit a [Pg. 162] bono quod melius est. sed ne illud quidem mihi inutile uidetur quod ait Dauid: submerge, domine, et diuide linguas eorum. quare? quia dilexerunt omnia uerba praecipitationis, linguam dolosam. numquid non manifeste per haec istas indicat linguas, quas nunc uidemus naturam deitatis et unitatem diuinae substantiae concidentes? uerum de his sufficiat.(1)The following is from: Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum. Augustus Engelbrecht ed. Vol. 46. Tyranii Rufini Opera. Pars I: Orationum Gregorii Nazianzeni Novem Interpretatio. Vindobonae/Lipsiae. 1910.

Bullius

Jacques de Billy de Prunay was a sixteenth century French scholar, humitarian, linguist, poet and translator for the Greek Church Fathers. He compiled a later Latin version to that of Rufinus, based on the original Greek.

[Pg. 715] “At verò linguis éxternis, ac non vernaculis, Apostoli loquebantur, singularíque miraculo sermo ab his, qui non didicerant, proferebatur: signúmque illud infidelibus erat, non fidelibus, vt infidelium accusator esset : sicut scriptum est, Quoniam in alijs linguis; & in labijs alijs, loquar populo huic, ac ne sic quidem exaudient me, dicit Dominus. Audiebant autem. Verùm hîc paulùm consiste, atque ambige quo modo distinguenda sit oratio. Textus enim nonullam ambiguitatem habet, interpunctione dirimendam. Vtrùm enim audiebant sua quisque dialecto, it vt, verbi gratia, vox quidem vna emitteretur, multæ autem audirentur, sic videlicet pulsato ac perstrepente aëre, pluribúsque vocibus, vt magis perspicuè dicam, ex vna voce effectis: an potius in hoc verbo, audiebant, punctum statuendum est, atque hæc verba, Loquentes suis linguis, cum his quæ sequútur, iungéda sunt: vt sic legatur, [Pg. 716] Loquentes linguis, proprijs scilicet audientium, hoc est, externis : qui etiam sensus mihi magis arridet. Nam illo quidem modo, eorum potiùs, qui audiebant, quàm qui verba faciebant, hoc miraculum fuerit : at hoc sensu, eorum, qui loquebantur : qui etiam temulentiæ insimulantur, haud dubiè quia ipsi per Spiritus operationem noui miraculi aliquid circa voces designabant.

Quanquam autem laudabilis quoque fuit vetus illa linguarum diuisio ( cum scilicet malè atque impiè inter se concordes erant, qui turrim extruebant, quemadmodum nunc quoque quidam facere non verentur ) animorum enim & voluntatum consensio, cum linguarum distinctione soluta, susceptum negocium abrupit : laudabilior tamen est ea, quæ nunc insigni miraculo patratur. Ab vno enim Spiritu in multos diffusa, ad vnum concentum rursus connectitur. Atque gratiarum diuersitas est, alia gratia opus habens, ad discernendum quænam sit præstantior quandoquidem nulla est, quæ laude careat. Quin præclara quoque illa diuisio dici possit, de qua loquitur Dauid, Præcipita Domine, & diuide linguas eorum. Quid ita ? Quoniam dilexerunt omnia verba præcipitationis, linguam dolosam : modò non apertis verbis huiusce loci ac tempestatis linguas accusans, quæ diuinitatem scindunt.”(2)As taken from: Sancti Patris Nostri Gregorii Nazianzeni Opera Græc•Lat. Jac. Billius Prunæus, S. Michælis in Eremo. Paris: 1630. Pg. 715-716.

MPG

This nineteenth century compendium of Greek Church writers with a parallel Latin text, Migne Patrologia Graeca, strongly borrowed from Billius to provide the Latin parallel to the Greek, but added some typographical and editorial distinctions.

“XV. At vero linguis externis, non autem vernaculis, apostoli loquebantur, singularique miraculo sermo ab his, qui non didicerant, proferebatur ; signumque illud infidelibus erat, non fidelibus, ut infidelium accusator esset, sicut scriptum est : Quoniam in aliis linguis, et in labiis aliis, loquar populo huic, nec sic exaudient me, dicit Dominus. Audiebant autem. Verum hic paululum consiste, atque ambige quo modo distinguenda sit oratio. Textus enim nonnullam ambiguitatem habet, interpunctione dirimendam. Utrum enim audiebant sua quisque dialecto, ita ut, verbi gratia, vox quidem una emitteretur, multæ autem audirentur, sic videlicet pulsato ac perstrepente aere, pluribusque vocibus, et, ut magis perspicue dicam, ex una voce effectis : an potius in hoc verbo, Audiebant, punctum statuendum est ; atque hæc verba, Loquentes suis linguis, cum his, quæ sequuntur, jungenda sunt, ut sic legatur, loquentes linguis propriis scilicet audientium, hoc est, externis ; qui etiam sensus mihi magis arridet. Nam in primo quidem sensu, eorum potius, qui audiebant, quam qui verba faciebant, hoc miraculum fuerit ; in isto autem, eorum qui loquebantur ; utpote qui etiam temulentiæ insimulantur, haud dubie, quia ipsi Spiritus operatione novum quoddam miraculum circa voces designabant.

XVI. Quanquam autem laudabilis quoque fuit vetus illa linguarum divisio ( cum scilicet male atque impie inter se concordes erant, qui turrim exstruebant, quemadmodum nunc quoque quidam facere non verentur ), dissoluta simul, cum linguarum divortio, animorum concordia, susceptum negotium abrupit; laudabilior tamen est ea, quæ nunc insigni miraculo patratur. Ab uno enim Spiritu in multos diffusa, ad unum concentum rursus connectitur. Atque gratiarum diversitas est, alia gratia opus habens, ad discernendum quænam sit præstantior ; quandoquidem nulla est, quæ laude careat. Quin præclara quoque illa divisio dici possit, de qua inquitur David : Præcipita, Domine, et divide linguas eorum. Quid ita ? Quoniam dilexerunt omnia verba præcipitationis, linguam dolosam ; tantum non aperte hujusce loci ac tempestatis linguas accusans, quæ divinitatem scindunt. Ac de his quidem hactenus.” (3)As taken from Migne Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 36. Col. 449-452

Bede

This is not an actual translation of the Nazianzus text, but how the eighth century Venerable Bede understood it. It may be of assistance for those trying to figure-out the Greek.

Quoniam audiebat unusquisque lingua sua illos loquentes. Quæritur in hoc loco quomodo unusquisque audiebat lingua sua loquentes eos magnalia Dei : utrum ii qui loquebantur diversis sermonibus uniuscujusque linguæ hoc quod dicebatur proferebant, id est, ut unusquisque eorum nunc hac, nunc alia lingua loquens, sic per omnes curreret, an in eo potius erat mirabile, quod sermo eorum qui loquebantur qualibet lingua fuisset pronuntiatus unicuique audienti, secundum suam linguam intelligebatur, ut (verbi gratia) unoquocunque apostolo in Ecclesia docente ( necesse enim erat tacentibus reliquis unum loqui, et sermonem unum ad auditum omnium pervenire ), ipse sermo hanc in se vim haberet, ut cum diversarum gentium auditores essent, unusquisque secundum linguam suam illius ipsius unius sermonis qui ab apostolo fuerat pronuntiatus susciperet auditum, et caperet intellectum. Nisi forte secundum hoc magis videbatur audientium esse miraculum quam loquentium.”(4)MPL. Vol. 92 Bedæ Venerabilis: Super Acta Apostolorum Expositio. Col. 945-948

References   [ + ]

Gregory Nazianzus' Oration on Pentecost

A preliminary English translation of Gregory of Nazianzus’ On Pentecost 41:15-16.

It is found at the following link: Gregory’s Oration on Pentecost: A translation from 41.15-16.

This translation was prepared and upkept by Alex Poulos, who has worked very hard and spent many hours tracking down various manuscripts on the subject from the various Greek, Latin and Syriac source texts. He has also performed an in-depth transcription, translation, and comparative analysis of all the texts he has worked with.

Mr. Poulos’ contribution has helped the literary and textual analysis of Gregory’s text go to a much deeper level. This will be reflected in the next round of articles on this subject.