Saturday, March 16, 2013


All writers are part of an historical milieu, including writers of what we now recognize as scripture.  Thus they were inclined to use symbols and ideas from their surrounding culture to get their point across.

I read this in the Iliad yesterday.  Speaking is Phoinix, older foster brother to pouting Achilles, trying to convince him to come back to the fight.  From Rouse's translation:
Do not despise the feet of those who bring good tidings.
This is very much a part with the famous verse from Isaiah:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Rouse is cheating a little bit; his version of the line seems to be consciously drawing a parallel to the Biblical verse.  Other translators like Fagles and Pope do not talk about feet at all.

However, the original does.  Consulting an interlinear source we see that Homer is referring to the feet, in particular, of those who bring the tidings.  Stringing together the sense of the Greek words, you more or less get: "not you, at least, my spoken words nor my foot put to shame".

News didn't travel so fast back then, and honor was eagerly given to those who cared enough to travel the distances to bring it.  It wasn't enough to have a voice - feet got you close enough to communicate.  In Greece, again, the fellow whose grand, sacrificial effort brought news of the victory at Marathon twenty-six miles to the people of Athens is still honored today as we call our races marathons and set racers to run that peculiar distance.

The idea translates rather easily to a gospel setting.  The news of faith, love and salvation in the home of God has been passed on with great labor and enthusiasm, and has been received in the hearts of many with joy and gratitude.  As for my church, the idea was picked up by Book of Mormon writers as well, and became a sort of leitmotif for the passing on of the Good News.

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