It’s Greek to Me

16 10 2010

I have been without Internet connections for the last few days (both a blessing and a curse).  So I have not posted recently.  In the time away from this blog, I have been to Ephesus, Patmos, Santorini, and Crete, Athens, and Delphi.  I though in this blog I would reflect upon one particular artifact I have seen frequently over the last few days:  inscriptions.  These inscriptions remind me once again of the importance of the Greek language for the ancient world (and the New Testament).  At almost every archaeological excavation, Greek inscriptions come to light.  These inscriptions are on columns, altars, pottery shards, and a variety of other mediums.  As the examples below illustrate, some inscriptions are written with beautiful lettering; they are pieces of artwork unto themselves.  The inscriptions frequently reveal to contemporary interpreters the perspectives and outlooks of the elites.  Often these inscriptions mention memorials established for the emperor or some high city or provincial official.  Honor in the ancient world needed to be public and permanent.  Of course what is missing in a fuller knowledge of the ancient world is access to the thoughts of the common folk.  They did not leave behind inscriptions (perhaps an exception being the graffiti that can sometimes be found).   The common folk represent the little tradition, the oral society which left little behind when it comes to written material.  However, the inscriptions that are unearthed are fascinating time capsules into the ancient world.




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