Archive for May, 2011

Tourism has precursors in medieval pilgrimage, but there are significant differences.  Although the motives for both may be seen in the search for transformation of the self, medieval pilgrimage was situated in a system of penitence largely absent from the modern world.  The primary motive of pilgrimage was transformation of the self through the forgiveness of sin.  This transformation of the self was not self-transformation as such, because it responded to a discipline that had its source outside the self: God.  Pilgrims traveled to obtain indulgences and to complete penances that had been assigned them, meaning that pilgrimages were not always voluntary and self-initiated.  Indeed, in contrast to tourists, pilgrims did not travel to asset their freedom from necessity but to respond to the necessity of their destiny in God.  Humility, therefore was the essential virtue of the pilgrim.  Pilgrimage was a kenotic movement, a stripping away of the external sources of stability in one’s life.  The pilgrim’s way was the way of the cross:  “In any want to become my followers, let them deny deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).  The journey required a disorientation from the trappings of one’s quotidian identity in order to respond to a call from the source of one’s deeper identity.

The modalities of pilgrimage and tourism also differ.  Pilgrims generally traveled on foot.  The journey was often arduous, not an exercise in leisure, and the perils of the journey were often considered part of corporal penance.  Pilgrimage was not a for-profit industry, and it was available to all members of society, including the poor.  A network of sanctuaries, hospices, and monasteries supported pilgrims with acts of charity and hospitality.  Finally, medieval pilgrimage was a communal journey.  Pilgrimage was a social event, during which many of the ordinary rules of hierarchy and social structure were suspended.

The above account is not meant to idealize medieval pilgrimage.  The point is not that medieval pilgrims were necessarily more authentic and more spiritually sincere than modern tourist.  The point is rather that medieval pilgrims were enmeshed in a communal system of penance, and they brought a common framework to their travels. (79-80)

The Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church, William T. Cavanaugh

A stute of a pilgrim

A statue of a pilgrim, Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Read Full Post »

This heavenly city, then, while it sojourns on earth, calls citizens out of all nations, and gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages, not scrupling about diversities in the manners, laws, and institutions whereby earthly peace is secured and maintained, but recognizing that, however various these are, they all tend to one and the same end of earthly peace. It therefore is so far from rescinding and abolishing these diversities, that it even preserves and adopts them, so long only as no hindrance to the worship of the one supreme and true God is thus introduced. Even the heavenly city, therefore, while in its state of pilgrimage, avails itself of the peace of earth, and, so far as it can without injuring faith and godliness, desires and maintains a common agreement among men regarding the acquisition of the necessaries of life, and makes this earthly peace bear upon the peace of heaven; for this alone can be truly called and esteemed the peace of the reasonable creatures, consisting as it does in the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God and of one another in God.

Saint Augustine, The City of God, XIX.17

In related news, I was recently admitted to Duke University’s Divinity School to study for a Master of Divinity degree. It total it is a full-time three-year program, which will move me from my current place as Latin teacher at Needham B. Broughton High School here in Raleigh.  Laura and I will stay in Raleigh, and I will commute to Durham for classes et al.

While I have greatly enjoyed my time teaching the Latin language to public high school students, I do believe this opportunity to return to my own studies, specifically in the area of theology, is an opportunity that I should take seriously, with fear and trembling. This had always been a plan – to teach two or three years before returning to school. That was seven years ago.

There is much work to be done, and I am beginning to get my reading chops up for the demands the Divinity School will certainly require. I’m also beginning to work back up my Koine Greek skills for New Testament studies. Hopefully this all means I will be writing more on this site, as well as updating the Lectio page.

One thought I do have is that I will be entering a predominately Protestant institution, as Duke is still supported by the United Methodist Church, the denomination of my mother and my upbringing. I’m sure there will be some gentle competitiveness, as well as some natural nostalgia for the Church in whose care my earliest memories of Christ’s love and devotion came.


noun., a person who undertakes a journey to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion.

[from Provençal pelegrin,  from Latin peregrīnus  foreign, from per  through + ager  field, land; cf., peregrine ]

Read Full Post »

Salt, an exercise


Matt 5.13 Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τ λας τῆς γῆς: ἐὰν δ τ λας μωρανθ, ν τνι λισθσεται; εἰς οὐδὲν ἰσχύει ἔτι εἰ μὴ βληθὲν ἔξω καταπατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its flavor, however will it be “salted”?  It’s become good for nothing, except to be tossed outside beneath (the feet) of men.

Compare with

Luke 14.34Καλὸν οὖν τ λας: ἐὰν δ καὶ τ λας μωρανθ, ν τνι ρτυθσεται; 35οὔτε εἰς γῆν οὔτε εἰς κοπρίαν εὔθετόν ἐστιν: ἔξω βάλλουσιν αὐτό. ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω.

And so salt is good! But if the salt has lost its flavor, however will it “be salted”? neither for the earth nor for manure is it useful. They throw it outside. He who has ears to hear let him hear.


Mark 9.49πᾶς γὰρ πυρὶ λισθσεται. 50Καλὸν τ λας: ἐὰν δ τ λας ἄναλον γένηται, ν τνι αὐτὸ ἀρτύσετε; ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἅλα, καὶ εἰρηνεύετε ἐν ἀλλήλοις.

For everyone will “be salted” with fire.  Salt (is) good. but if it has become un-salty, however will you season it? Have in yourselves salt, and make peace among each other.

and finally, from Saint Paul

Colossians 4.6 ὁ λόγος ὑμῶν πάντοτε ἐν χάριτι, ἅλατι ρτυμνος, εἰδέναι πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ ἀποκρίνεσθαι.

(May) the talk among you all always (be) in grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know who to respond to everyone.


The noun salt, λς, doesn’t get too much press in the New Testament; in only these four passages does salt appear.  In Mark, the model which Matthew and Luke theoretically use, salt is very good (!), but not before stating that everyone will be “salted” with fire.

λισθσεται : ἁλίζω is a verb based on the noun ἅλς, salt, so to salt, to season with salt. ἁλισθήσεται is a particularly delicious form, present in all three witnesses [a future, passive, 3rd, singular form]. It is likely Matthew and Luke borrowed the form from Mark, but perhaps not the concept entire. It is very likely the form references Leviticus (LXX) 2.13:

καὶ πᾶν δῶρον θυσίας ὑμῶν ἁλὶ λισθήσεται οὐ διαπαύσετε ἅλα διαθήκης κυρίου ἀπὸ θυσιασμάτων ὑμῶν ἐπὶ παντὸς δώρου ὑμῶν προσοίσετε κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ ὑμῶν ἅλας,

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings [NIV].

Same form, future, passive, etc.

Now Paul (or Paul’s crew, as we are not positive who wrote this epistle to the Church in Colossae) was writing arguably before any of these Gospels, but Colossians may be a bit more contemporary with the writing of Mark and subsequent gospels.

But I’m still concerned with Mark’s expression, πυρὶ ἁλισθήσεται, seasoned (literally, “salted”) with fire,” and how this expression didn’t carry on into either Matthew or Luke. And so the issue is not so much salt, though it is the salting verb, but fire.

πῦρ, where we get our English pyro– words, which brings back up the sacrificial vocabulary found through out the Old Testament. And salt was indeed included as a part of the rites of the sacrifice, as we say in the Leviticus passage.


Has Mark inverted the formula? Instead salting something on fire or having been sacrificed, as in Leviticus, will the salted (“You are salt…”, “talk… seasoned with salt”) be visited with fire?

And, if this is the case, have Matthew and Luke softened the Jesus’ (apocalyptic?) tone by leaving out the expression?

Finally, was this salt and seasoned vocabulary a Markan invention, playing off the Old Testament sacrifice motif, that Matthew and Luke recognized? Was Paul likening our conversations among each other as a part of our sacrifice to God? Was salt a preached theme hovering around the churches of the early Jesus movement? Was salt a theme we’d like to send back to Jesus’ ministry itself?

Read Full Post »