Archive for the ‘Reformation’ Category

Where the broom comes from: vocabulary from 16th-century English

August 11, 2007

Do you know what a knop is? How about a snoffet ? A habergeon ? The kall of a calf? The lap of the ear? What is a besom ?

If you answered No, you would have a hard time reading the Bible in English—the Geneva Bible of 1562, anyway. It uses all these words in Exodus 25 ff. where God gives instructions for the Tabernacle, its accoutrements, and the priestly garments.

I had no idea what any of these were, so I looked them up.
* knop = a knob
* snoffet = something you snuff out a candle with or in
* habergeon = “A sleeveless coat or jacket of mail or scale armour, originally smaller and lighter than a HAUBERK, but sometimes app. the same as that.” (OED) —Exodus 28:32 says the the priestly garment should have a hole for the head which is designed “as the coller of an habergeon that it rent not.”)
* kall = modern-day “caul” . . . “The fatty membrane investing the intestines; the epiploön or omentum” (OED)
* lap = lobe

And a besom is a bundle of twigs bound around a handle and used as a sweeping implement. We call these things “brooms” but broom was just one of many plants used to make besoms.

But today, through the constant evolution of language and its usage, we use this specific word “broom” for the general concept of “sweeping implement.” Pehaps people got tired of saying “where’s the broom besom?” and started abbreviating. The reverse logic applies to the shortening of “motor car” to just “car”—in this case, the general term is preferred over the specific type. Unless you’re really hoity-toity.

Who knows what we’ll call brooms in the year 2462?


Short history of Protestant contraception

May 22, 2007

Why did Protestants forbid contraception, side by side with Catholics, for 400 years, only to repudiate this teaching in the 20th century? Allan Carlson, a self-described “cradle Lutheran”, founder and president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society, addresses this question in “Children of the Reformation“, the cover story of the new issue of Touchstone Magazine.


California diocese splits from Episcopal Church

December 3, 2006

Article is here. A few Episcopalians are not happy at the split, and for a curious reason:

“There is a schism, and it’s a sin,” said the Rev. Rick Matters, a co-founder of Remain Episcopal, the caucus favoring unity. “To secede, we are like one of the Southern states that led to the Civil War.”

Is all schism a sin, or just this particular schism? Because if all, it’s time for the San Joaquin Diocese, to say nothing of Canterbury, to start knocking on the Vatican’s door a little more insistently. The ECUSA here seems oblivious that it has been in schism from Rome, either in itself or through its Church of England parentage, for almost 500 years.

Enter the Wortschatz: naughtypack

June 15, 2006

Naughtypack is one of those words that needs to be brought back. This from Arthur Golding’s translation of John Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms:

“. . . namely, to despyse froward persons & naughtypackes, . . .” (on Psalm 15)
“. . . while the wicked and the naughtie packs are in their ruffe, and welter themselues in their delights . . .” (on Psalm 37)


Kalvin’s Kommentaries

May 23, 2006

John Calvin wrote a lot of Bible commentary, and if you read enough of it you see he starts to repeat himself. But you never know just what you’ll find.