# Friday, June 19, 2009

Here we go. Mike at ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ tagged me in Josh McManaway’s A Meme: Funniest Things in Ancient Literature.

I don’t have a wide reservoir of non-NT ancient literature to draw upon. A few come to mind, though.

Hebrew Bible

First thing that comes to mind is 1Ki 18.26-27, particularly v. 27. I don’t know Hebrew, but here’s the English (from the ESV):

26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1Ki 18.26-27, ESV)

So, Baal doesn’t answer his prophets when they cry to him. Elijah helpfully points out some options to the prophets of Baal, including (my paraphrase), “hey, guys, maybe Baal is (to put it as my 2-year-old daughter would) going ‘poo poo’, and that’s why he can’t hear you!” The bit about being asleep is funny too.

Martyrdom of Polycarp

I laughed out loud the first time I read MPoly 9.2:

Therefore, when he was brought before him, the proconsul asked if he were Polycarp. And when he confessed that he was, the proconsul tried to persuade him to recant, saying, “Have respect for your age,” and other such things as they are accustomed to say: “Swear by the Genius of Caesar; repent; say, ‘Away with the atheists!’ ” So Polycarp solemnly looked at the whole crowd of lawless heathen who were in the stadium, motioned toward them with his hand, and then (groaning as he looked up to heaven) said, “Away with the atheists!” (MPoly 9.2, Holmes)

So the proconsul wants Polycarp to renounce his Christianity by saying, “Away with the atheists"!” (Christians, who refused to worship pagan gods, were considered to be atheists). Polycarp — the wise old codger — instead takes the same words and, by his actions, condemns the whole crowd with them. Gesturing to the pagans and rabble-rousers in the crowd, he says “Away with the atheists!” but obviously is referring to the whole crowd, not making renunciation of his faith. Polycarp, at least 86 years old, is “sticking it to the man”.

That’s it for me. I won’t be tagging anyone else for further participation in this meme, but if you’re looking for an excuse and have a good one to post … consider yourself tagged.

Post Author: rico
Friday, June 19, 2009 7:54:51 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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