Monday, October 23, 2017

Review of James Moffatt's New Testament by Theodore E Schmauk 1914

My copy of Moffatt's Bible, kept together by black duct tape

See also 100 Rare New Testament Translations and Versions on DVDrom

Review of James Moffatt's New Testament by Theodore E Schmauk (The Lutheran Church Review 1914)

[The NEW TESTAMENT. A New Translation. By James Moffatt, D.D., D.Litt., Yates Professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis, Mansfield College, Oxford. Second Edition. Hodder and Stoughton. New York and London: George H. Doran Company, New York. 1913. Price, $1.50, net, Pp 327.]

Here is an English New Testament with the starch and stiffness of antiquity taken out of it, and the dust of former centuries wiped from it. The old records receive a new habiliment, in lines sheer to the figure, and stylistic cut to date. The archaic and formal give way to the common living, flowing talk of life. In addition to emphasizing modernity over the Authorized Version of 1611, and making the thought intelligible to any reader, Dr. Moffatt has attempted to be more accurate than the Revised Version of 1881. Recent grammatical research in the translation of the aorist, the article, and the particles, have been utilized by him, and he has translated directly from the new text of Von Soden, although he has not always followed Von Soden's sometimes questionable hypotheses and arrangement.

When we look at the result in detail, the effect is striking. Not only does a new light shine out from many hitherto obscure expressions, but we are enveloped in a new electric atmosphere. We cannot help feeling at times that Dr. Moffatt has searched for words which would enable him to be as different from tradition as possible, and occasionally we are struck by the flatness or inferiority of the new term. As an instance of all these things, we read, “Blessed are those who feel poor in spirit!” (which is expressive improvement); “the Realm of heaven is theirs.” “Whoever relaxes a single one of these commands, he will be ranked least in the Realm of heaven.” “I tell you, unless your goodness excels that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the Realm of heaven.” “The Realm of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.” “The Realm of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed.” “The Realm of heaven is like dough which a woman took and buried in three pecks of flour.” “The Realm of heaven is like a trader in search of fine pearls." “The Realm of heaven is like a net which is thrown into the sea and collected fish of every sort.” “The Realm of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage banquet in honor of his son.”

The Pharisees and Herodians say to Jesus, “Teacher, we know you are sincere, and that you teach the Way of God honestly and fearlessly; you do not court human favor.” Jesus says to them, “Whose likeness, whose inscription is this?” He tells them, “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar; give God what belongs to God.” Jesus speaks to the crowds and to His disciples and says, “You are not to be called "rabbi" for One is your teacher, and you are all brothers. One is your heavenly Father; nor must you be called “leaders," for One is your Leader, even the Christ.” Jesus exclaims, “How often I would fain have gathered your children as a fowl gathers her brood under her wings." When His disciples point out to Him the temple buildings, He says, “You see all this? I tell you truly, not a stone here will be left upon another, without being torn down.” He says, “This gospel of the Reign will be preached all over the wide world as a testimony to all the Gentiles, and then the end will come.” The “abomination of desolation” is termed by Moffatt “the appalling Horror.” The “ten virgins” become “ten maidens.” The foolish ones come and say, “Oh, sir, oh, sir, open the door for us!” but Jesus replied, “I tell you frankly, I do not know you.” “Keep on the watch then.” Instead of “Well done! good and faithful servant,” the Master says, “Capital! you excellent and trusty servant.” Judas the betrayer says, “Surely it is not me, Lord.” Jesus says to him, “Is it not?” At every point we find business-like clearness with occasional bathos.

Dr. Moffatt modernizes the words of institution of the Lord's Supper as follows: “Take and eat this, it means my body.” “Drink of it, all of you; this means my blood, the new covenant-blood, shed for many, to win the remission of their sins.” On the cross the soldiers give Jesus a drink of wine mixed with “bitters.” One of them “soaked a sponge in vinegar and put it on the end of a stick.” Jesus uttered a loud scream and gave up his spirit.” After His resurrection Jesus says to the women, “Have no fear! Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee.” His last commission reads as follows, “Full authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth; go and make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all the commands I have laid on you.”

Jesus sees Simon and his brother “netting fish in the sea." And He says, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fish for men.” After the unclean spirit had been cast out, the people discussed the miracle as follows: “Whatever is this?” “It’s new teaching with authority behind it!” When Jesus was praying in a lonely spot, “Simon and his companions hunted Him out and told Him, “Everybody is looking for you.’”

To the paralytic Jesus says, “Rise, I tell you, lift your pallet and go home.”

As often happens, with scholars who take exceeding pains to make things clear to the people, Dr. Moffatt occasionally used a term which is more obscure than the phraseology of the old Authorized Version to American ears. Thus, in place of “Is not this the carpenter,” he says, “Is not this the joiner.” The disciples, instead of taking “a staff only” are to take “a stick” (which reminds Americans of arbitrary despotism). Instead of “no money in their purse,” they are to take “no coppers in their girdle.” Then, of course, instead of not putting on two “coats,” they are ordered “not to put on two shirts.” The translator is very forcible in describing John the Baptist's interview with Herod. John tells Herod, “You have no right to your brother's wife.” Herod says to Herodias, “Ask anything you like, and I will give you it.” He swore to her, “I will give you whatever you want.” The girl says, “I want you to give me this very moment John the Baptist's head on a dish.” Dr. Moffatt translates “Talitha cumi,” “Little girl, I am telling you to arise.” The people bring “their invalids and beg him to let them touch even the tassel of his robe.” Jesus “puts his fingers into the deaf man's ears, touches his tongue with saliva, and looks up to heaven with a sigh.” The people are “astounded in the extreme” and say, “How splendidly he has done everything!” “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” is translated, “Where their worm never dies, and the fire is never put out.”

The Hosanna at the entry of Jerusalem is made to read, “Blessed be the Reign to come, our father David's reign. Hosanna in high heaven" The scribes “walk about in long robes, get saluted in the market place, secure the front seats in the synagogue, and the best places at banquets: they prey upon the poverty of widows and offer unreal prayers.” The widow's mite gets a scholarly jolt. Dr. Moffatt translates, “They have as put in a contribution out of their surplus, but she has given out of her neediness all she possessed, her whole living.” The “alabaster box of ointment” becomes a “flask of pure nard perfume.” When Pilate asked Jesus whether he is the King of the Jews, Jesus replies, “Certainly.” When the women come to the tomb, they say, “Who will roll away the boulder?” It is still a question whether “lithos” was surely a boulder, even though Joseph, who “swathed Jesus in the linen” rolled it up against the opening of the tomb.

Of the section beginning Mark 16:9, Dr. Moffatt notes quite unconventionally that “the following appendix represents a couple of second century attempts to complete the Gospel.” The beginning of the Gospel of Luke he translates, “A number of writers have essayed to draw up a narrative of the established facts in our religion.” The Gloria in Excelsis becomes “Glory to God in high heaven, and peace on earth for men whom he favours.” The translator certainly makes the parable of the new cloth and the old garment very much clearer, saying, “No one tears a piece from a new cloak and sews it on the old cloak; otherwise he will tear the new cloak and the new piece will not match with the old.” The parable of the Unjust Steward is translated as follows: “There was a rich man who had a factor, and this factor he found was accused of misapplying his property. So he summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you! Hand in your accounts; you cannot be factor any longer.’” The dying thief says, “We are getting what we deserve.” We rather expected to find Dr. Moffatt going so far as to say, “We are getting what is coming to us.” Jesus replies to the thief, “I tell you, surely you will be in paradise with me this very day!”

The Gospel of John opens as follows, “The Logos existed in the very beginning, the Logos was with God, the Logos was divine.” When Jesus after His resurrection stood on the shore of the sea of Tiberias and spoke to the disciples out on the boat, He said, “Lads, have you got anything!” In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus is said to have been forty days “discussing the affairs of God's realm.” When Peter rises and raises his voice at Pentecost, he says, “These men are not drunk as you imagine; why, it is only nine in the morning!” Paul at Athens says, “As I scanned your objects of worship, I actually came upon an altar with the inscription ‘To an unknown God.” Well, I proclaim to you what you worship in your ignorance.” Paul announces to the Romans, “I am proud of the Gospel; it is God's saving power for every one who has faith, for the Jew first and for the Greek as well. God's righteousness is revealed in it by faith and for faith—as it is written, “By faith shall the righteous live.” On the whole, many passages in the book of Romans become very clear and vivid, under the transforming hand of Dr. Moffatt, and particularly apropos is the following, “But who are you, my man, to speak back to God!”

Dr. Moffatt has succeeded well in breaking up Romans 5: 12-19 into a series of short sentences. He translates the beginning of Romans 6 as follows: “How can we live in sin any longer when we have died to sin? Surely you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death! Our baptism into his death made us share his burial, so that, as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live and move in the new sphere of life. For if we have grown into him by a death like his, we shall grow into him by a resurrection like his, knowing as we do that our old self has been crucified with him in order to crush the sinful body and free us from any further slavery to sin.”

We must say that the dfficult argument in Romans 9:11 becomes far more direct and impressive under Dr. Moffatt's hand. He puts movement into the various statements, and enables us to feel the flow of the whole argument toward one great goal.

Much of I Corinthians loses its traditional air of sanctity and becomes plain, common, severe admonition, e. g. I Cor. 6: “When anyone of you has a grievance against his neighbor. do you dare to go to law in a sinful pagan court, instead of laying the case before the saints? Do you not know the saints are to manage the world? If the world is to come under your jurisdiction, are you incompetent to adjudicate upon trifles? Do you not know we are to manage angels, let alone mundane issues? And yet, when you have mundane issues to settle, you refer them to the judgment of men who from the point of view of the church are of no account! I say this to put you to shame.” Or take I Corinthians 7: “A woman is bound to her husband during his life time; but if he dies, she is free to marry anyone she pleases—only, it must be a Christian. However, she is happier if she remains as she is; that is my opinion—and I suppose I have the Spirit of God as well as other people.”

I Corinthians 10:16 is translated thus: “The cup of blessing, which we bless, is that not participating in the blood of Christ. The bread we break, is that not participating in the body of Christ? For many as we are, we are one Bread, one Body, since we all partake of the one Bread.” I Corinthians II: 18-20 runs thus: “First of all, in your church-meetings I am told that cliques prevail. And I partly believe it. There must be parties among you, if genuine Christians are to be recognized. But this makes it impossible for you to eat the ‘Lord's' supper when you hold your gatherings. As you eat, everyone takes his own supper; one goes hungry while another gets drunk.”

In I Corinthians 13, we are told, “If I have no love, I am a noisy gong”; “At present we only see the baffling reflections in a mirror, but then it will be face to face.” The translation of the beginning of the 16th chapter of I Corinthians is a Godsend for the advocates of systematic beneficence, “With regard to the collection for the saints, you must carry out the same arrangement that I made for the churches of Galatia. On the first day of the week let each of you put aside a sum of your weekly gains, so that money will not have to be collected when I come.”

The difficult II Corinthians 3:7 is well rendered as follows: “If the administration of death which was engraved in letters of stone, was invested with glory—so much so that the children of Israel could not gaze at the face of Moses on account of the dazzling glory that was fading from his face; surely the administration of the Spirit must be invested with still greater glory. If there was glory in the administration that condemned, then the administration that acquits abounds far more in glory.” But the mystical passage that follows in verse 18 is not cleared as happily.

Paul's irony in II Corinthians 11 becomes very natural, and loses that stiff, hard ring which we find in it in the Authorized Version. But it also loses dignity: “I wish you would put up with a little ‘folly’ from me. Do put up with me, for I feel a divine jealousy on your behalf. . . . You put up with it all right, when some interloper preaches a second Jesus, or when you are treated to a different gospel from what I gave you! Why not put up with me? I hold I am not one whit inferior to these precious ‘apostles'! But perhaps I did wrong in taking a humble place that you might have a high one—I mean, in preaching the gospel of God to you for nothing! I made a levy on other churches, I took pay from them so as to minister to you. . . . What I am now going to say is not inspired by the Lord: I am in the role of a 'fool,' now, on this business of boasting. You put up with fools so readily, you who know so much! You put up with a man who assumes control of your souls, with a man who spends your money, with a man who dupes you, with a man who gives himself airs. . . . But let them vaunt as they please, I am equal to them (mind, this is the role of a fool!). Are they Hebrews? so am I,” etc. “Now this is playing the fool! But you forced me to it, instead of coming forward yourselves and vouching for me. . . . Here am I all ready to pay you my third visit. . . . But let that pass, you say; I was clever enough to dupe you with my tricks? Was I? Did I make something out of you by any of my messengers? . . . Titus did not make anything out of you, did he? And did not I act in the same spirit as he did . . . Now brothers, good-bye; mend your ways, listen to what I have told you, live in harmony, keep the peace.”

Galatians becomes a very lively book under the hand of Dr. Moffatt, and the allegory of the two bond women is easily comprehensible.

The difficult first chapter of Ephesians is well connected. The third chapter of Philippians gains greatly in its contrast between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of faith in Christ. There is a striking translation of 3:20, “We are a colony of heaven, and we wait for the Saviour who comes from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body that belongs to our low estate, till it resembles the body of his Glory.” But when Dr. Moffatt makes Paul tell his brothers to keep in mind “whatever is attractive, whatever is hightoned,” he surely raises a query in the average American mind.

Colossians 1:25 is given in very direct English as follows: “I am a minister of the church by the divine commission which has been granted me in your interests, to make a full presentation of God's message—of that open secret which, though concealed from ages and generations of old, has now been disclosed to the saints of God. It is His will that they should understand the glorious wealth which this secret holds for the Gentiles, in the fact of Christ's presence among you as your hope of glory.” In the second chapter Dr. Moffatt says: “Beware of any one getting hold of you by means of a theosophy which is specious make-believe. It is in Christ that the entire Fullness of deity has settled bodily, it is in him that you reach your full life.” Paul's struggle to hold straight those who were influenced by the rites and ideas of the mystery religions becomes very striking: “Let no one lay down rules for you with regard to fasting and the cult of angels, presuming on his visions and inflated by his sensuous notions, instead of keeping in touch with that Head under whom the entire body, supplied with joints and sinews, and thus compact grows with growth divine. As you died with Christ to the Elemental spirits of the world, why live as if you still belonged to the world? Why submit . . . to rules determined by human tenets; they get the name of 'wisdom' with their self-imposed devotions, with their fasting, with their rigorous discipline of the body, but they are of no value, they simply pamper the flesh!”

In II Thessalonians Paul is made to say, “With regard to the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ and our muster before him, I beg you, brothers, not to let your minds get easily unsettled or excited by any spirit of prophecy to the effect that the Day of the Lord is already here. It will not come till the Rebellion takes place first of all, with the revealing of the Lawless One, the doomed One, actually seating himself in the temple of God with the proclamation that he himself is God. . . . Brothers, we charge you . . . to shun any brother who is loafing. - We are informed that some of your number are loafing, busybodies instead of busy. . . . If anyone will not obey our orders in this letter, mark that man, do not associate with him—that will make him feel ashamed! You are not to treat him as an enemy, but to put him under discipline as a brother.”

In his counsels to Timothy, Paul is made to say, “Deacons in turn are to be serious men, . . . their wives must be serious too. They are only to be married once, and they must manage their children and household properly. . . . Let no one slight you because you are a youth. . . . You have a gift that came to you transmitted by the prophets, when the presbytery laid their hands upon you; do not neglect that gift. . . . Watch yourself and watch your teaching; stick to your work. . . . Widows who really need it must be supported from the funds. . . . The really forlorn widow has her hope fixed on God, night and day she is at her prayers and supplications; whereas the widow who plunges into dissipation is dead before ever she dies. . . . No one under sixty is to be put on the church's list of widows. . . . Refuse to put young widows on the list, for when their wanton desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry and thus are guilty of breaking their first troth to Him. Besides, they become idle unconsciously by gadding about from one house to another—and not merely idle but gossips and busybodies, repeating things they have no right to mention. . . . Presbyters who are efficient presidents are to be considered worthy of ample remuneration, particularly those who have the task of preaching and teaching. . . . Those who are guilty of sin you must expose in public, to overawe the others. . . . Never be in a hurry to ordain a presbyter. . . . This is what you are to teach and preach. Any one who teaches novelties and refuses to fall in with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine that tallies with piety, is a conceited, ignorant creature. . . . They imagine religion is a paying concern. And so it is—provided it goes with a contented spirit. . . . O Timotheus, keep the securities of the faith intact; avoid the profane jargon and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘Knowledge.’” In the second epistle Timothy is told: “Pick up Mark and bring him along with you. . . . Alexander the blacksmith has done me a lot of harm.”

Hebrews II: I is rendered thus, “Convinced of what we do not see.” Hebrews 12: I becomes, “We must strip off every handicap, strip off sin with its clinging folds, to run our appointed course steadily, our eyes fixed upon Jesus as the pioneer and the perfection of faith.”

As a whole we do not feel that the book of Revelation is improved, for the spiritual purpose for which it was written, in this translation. The descriptions of the heavenly are not so inspiring, though the presentations of evil and iniquity become more natural. In the multitude of mongrel details we lose a sense of unity, and so far as the visions of evil are concerned, we are reminded of the reptiles and unclean things crawling around in the sheet which Peter saw in his trance on the roof of the house at Joppa, and which, lowered before him, contained all live quadrupeds and creeping things of the earth, and wild birds.

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Was C.S. Lewis a Libertarian?

Most of us are familiar with C. S. Lewis and his enduringly popular Chronicles of Narnia, his Space Trilogy, his various works of Christian apologetics such as Mere Christianity, and his natural law classic, The Abolition of Man. But only a small fraction of Lewis' readers are aware that Lewis, for all his personal distaste for politics, fits soundly within the classical liberal and libertarian tradition of limited government and individual freedom.

Lewis' libertarian views spring from his distrust in human nature.

Thankfully, in the past decade, several scholars have produced works that highlight Lewis' libertarian views.

Two of the most helpful discussions of Lewis' libertarianism are offered by David J. Theroux, C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism and Justin Buckley Dyer and Micah J. Watson's C. S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Law. My own discussion draws significantly from both these sources.

Distrust of Human Nature
First, we must recognize that Lewis' libertarian views spring from his distrust in human nature, a distrust grounded firmly in Lewis' Christian belief system. This is specifically true regarding the doctrine of humanity's fall and enduring sinfulness.

Lewis begins his Spectator essay Equality by pronouncing, "I am a Democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man." He specifically contrasts his philosophical motivations for democracy (as opposed to monarchy) with "people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government."

Rather, Lewis argues, "The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters."
Lewis believed that since humanity was corrupted by sin, it was a grave mistake to consolidate too much power into one person

Significantly, Lewis explicitly includes himself among the unworthy would-be rulers. He writes, "I don't deserve a share in governing a hen-house, much less a nation." Lewis also believed that fallen human nature could undermine democracy.

In Screwtape Proposes a Toast, Lewis specifically cautions against democracy's tendency to foster envy and punish individual achievement.

Lewis Compared to Madison and Bastiat
Lewis believed that because humanity was corrupted by sin, it was a grave mistake to consolidate too much power into one person or a small group. In this sense, Lewis' concerns resemble those which motivated James Madison in Federalist 51 to argue for the separation of governments and powers. Because of "human nature," writes Madison, men are not "angels," and therefore "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition."

Similarly, Lewis' understanding of how corrupted human nature necessarily corrupts government leaders resembles that of Frédéric Bastiat, who writes in The Law:
If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?
The Natural Law Tradition
Lewis' firm belief in human moral imperfection was a central aspect of his overall adherence to the natural law tradition, which holds that human conduct should be based on a set of unchanging moral principles.

Lewis' own writings display a belief in limited government and a distrust of government-enforced morality.

As Dyer and Watson observe and as Lewis' English Literature of the Sixteenth Century demonstrates, one great natural law influence of Lewis was the Anglican clergyman Richard Hooker. But Dyer and Watson also stress Lewis' indebtedness to John Locke, whose classical liberalism stood in contrast to Thomas Hobbes' "statist solution" for resolving civil strife.

Dyer and Watson wrote that "Locke's project was to limit government to the protection of individual natural rights." They note that "Locke explicitly tied" this belief to Hooker's natural law teachings even as they observe that Locke, unlike many in the classical natural law tradition, deemphasized "government's perfecting role."

Against Theocracy and Technocracy
Reflecting Locke's influence, Lewis' own writings display a belief in limited government and a distrust of government-enforced morality, a distrust again grounded in Lewis’ convictions regarding fallen humanity. In particular, Lewis was distrustful of theocracy and its abuses wrought by sanctimonious self-justifications. In his posthumously discovered "A Reply to Professor Haldane," Lewis writes:
I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence, theocracy is the worst of all governments . . . the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voices of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.
But Lewis' fear of theocracy was exceeded by his fear of a moralistic scientific technocracy, a system Lewis believed a much greater threat to his day and age. In his 1959 letter to Chicago newspaperman Dan Tucker, Lewis writes:
I dread government in the name of science. That is how most tyrannies come in. In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render most potent. They "cash in." It has been magic, it has been Christianity. Now it will certainly be science.
In both these pieces, Lewis makes clear his concerns that a ruling elite will try to exert power over the populace as a whole by using the pretense of superior knowledge and moral, supernatural, and/or scientific authority.

Not surprisingly, Lewis also articulates such apprehensions in his writings published during World War II, a period that saw significant expansion of government power throughout Europe and America.

In The Abolition of Man, Lewis highlights his concerns about the machinations of seemingly benevolent but ultimately totalitarian scientific bureaucracy that would seek to make obsolete church, family, and virtuous self-government. And in the final book of his Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength, Lewis depicts a group of intellectual elites who attempt to use science to supplant the natural order.

Lewis' larger concern was to decry state intrusion upon matters of personal morality.

State-Enforced Morality
Buckley and Watson also highlight how Lewis' beliefs regarding state enforcement of morality resemble the classical liberal convictions of John Stuart Mill and his harm principle, articulated in On Liberty, that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

For Lewis, the harm principle manifests itself specifically regarding the controversial topics of divorce and homosexuality. For, despite Lewis' beliefs regarding both matters, he did not think the state should render either divorce or homosexual practice illegal. Rather, Lewis' larger concern was to decry state intrusion upon matters of personal morality.
In a 1958 letter, Lewis writes:
No sin, simply as such should be made a crime. Who the deuce are our rulers to enforce their opinion of sin on us? . . . Government is at its best a necessary evil. Let's keep it in its place." In an earlier letter addressing homosexuality--which was not decriminalized in the UK until 1967--Lewis writes that criminalizing homosexual practice helps "nothing" and "only creates a blackmailer's paradise. Anyway, what business is it of the State's?
Addressing Great Britain's then-severe restrictions against divorce, Lewis in Mere Christianity warns Christian voters and members of Parliament against trying "to force their views on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws."

Quite simply, Lewis writes, people who are not Christians "cannot be expected to live Christian lives." Addressing marriage in the same paragraph, Lewis advocated for an explicit distinction between church and state. He writes: There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.

In light of Lewis' statements on these matters, certain scholars have speculated that Lewis would stand on the contemporary matter of same-sex marriage. Norman Horn suggests that Lewis would propose an approach to same-sex marriage that would emphasize freedom of association and would reflect the distinction between church and state that he made in Mere Christianity.

With this distinction in mind, we may suggest that Lewis' objections regarding same-sex marriage would be more directed toward the practices of Christian churches than state legalization.

At the same time, in light of Dyer and Watson's observation that, for Lewis, "The first purpose of limited government is to safeguard the sanctity of the Church," we may also surmise that Lewis would oppose any government mandate that would penalize churches or individual Christians that would refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies. For Lewis, any such mandate would be another manifestation of the state tyrannically enforcing morality and violating its appropriate limits.
David V. Urban
David V. Urban
David V. Urban is Professor of English at Calvin College. His earlier article on Shakespeare's problematic Henry V appears in Liberty Matters. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

The New World Translation Defended

Introducing a new blog dedicated to the New World Translation Bible, a Bible version that is unfairly criticized. Simply visit and right now it features the following articles:

The New World Translation is the Best New Testament According to E.C. Colwell

Jason BeDuhn on John 1:1 in the New World Translation

The Names/Titles of God in the Bible by A.C. Grylls 1894

Is the Holy Spirit an "IT?"

Alan Cairns on Cults, and the King James Version

19th Century Reviews of the Emphatic Diaglott

Metatron and the Jehovah-Angel by Paton J Gloag 1879

Acts 20:7, "breaking bread" and the New World Translation

John 1:1, the Word was a God, by Charles Voysey 1871

On the Use of Jehovah in Translating the Bible by Francis Denio 1927

Sakae Kubo, Walter Specht & Byington's Bible in Living English

Jesus as the LOGOS/WORD by Joseph H Crooker 1890

The Lie of Sola Scriptura

"...and the Word was LIKE God?"

The Charge of Bias Against the New World Translation

"And the Word was a god," article in Manford's Magazine 1887

An Argument for the Divine Name in the New Testament

Doctrinal Arguments against MONOGENHS QEOS (John 1:18)

What a Difference a Word Makes in Translating the Bible

Jesus Christ-The Wisdom and Logos/WORD of God John 1:1

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Headless Derbyshire Ghost by Elliott O'Donnell 1919

The Headless Derbyshire Ghost by Elliott O'Donnell 1919

Some few years ago, two men were trudging along a road, not twenty miles from Sudbury, swearing heartily. It was not the first time they had sworn, not by any means, but it is extremely doubtful if either of them had ever sworn before quite so vehemently. There were, one must admit, extenuating circumstances. Having missed the last train, they were obliged to walk home, a distance of twelve or more miles, and having been overtaken by a rainstorm, they were soaked to the skin. True, the rain had now ceased, but as they had covered only six miles, they still had six more to go, and at every step they took, the water in their boots soaked through their socks and squished between their toes. Just as they arrived at a spot where the road swerved a little to their left and took a sudden dip, a clock from a distance solemnly chimed twelve.

The younger of the two men came to a halt and lighted his pipe. “Hold on a minute, Brown,” he shouted; “I can’t keep up this infernal pace any longer. Let’s take an easy.”

Brown turned and joined his companion, who had seated himself on a wooden gate. Below them, in the dip, the darkness was sepulchral. The hedges on either side the road were of immense height; and high above them rose the trunks of giant pines and larches, the intertwining branches of which formed an archway that completely obliterated the sky. A faint speck of light from afar flickered occasionally, as if through a gap in the foliage; but, apart from this, the men could see nothing—nothing but blackness.

“A cheerful spot!” Brown remarked, “as gloomy a bit of road as I’ve ever seen. And how quiet!”

The other man blew his nose. “Not so quiet now,” he laughed, “but how everything echoes! What’s that? Water?”

Both men looked, and, apparently, from the other side of the hedge, came the gentle gurgle of quick flowing water.

“Must be a spring,” Brown observed, “flowing into some stream in the hollow. The darkness suggests the Styx. A match, if you please, Reynolds.”

Reynolds gave him one, and for awhile the two men puffed away in silence.

Suddenly something whizzed overhead; and they heard the prolonged, dismal hooting of an owl.

“This is getting a bit too eerie, even for my liking, Brown,” Reynolds remarked; “supposing we move on. I always associate noises like that with a death.”

“I wish it were my mother-in-law’s,” Brown laughed, “or my own. But there’s no such luck. I’m cold.”

“So am I,” Reynolds replied. “Deuced cold! Come on, do!”

He slid off the gate as he spoke and strode into the centre of the road.

The moon, temporarily unveiled, revealed as wet a landscape as one could possibly imagine. Everything dripped water—bushes, trees, ferns, grass, hats, clothes—whilst every rut of the road, every particle of soil, shone wet in the moon’s rays. A deep, settled calm permeated the atmosphere. It was the stillness of night and moisture combined.

“What’s the matter? Aren’t you coming?” Brown asked impatiently.

“One moment,” Reynolds replied. “I believe I heard footsteps. Hark! I thought so, they’re coming this way! Someone else lost their train, perhaps.”
Brown listened, and he, too, distinctly heard the sound of footsteps—high-heeled shoes walking along with a sharp, springy action, as if the road were absolutely hard and dry.

“A woman!” he ejaculated. “Odd hour for a woman to be out here.”

Brown laughed. “Pooh!” he said. “Women are afraid of nothing nowadays except old age. Hullo! Here she comes!”

As he spoke the figure of a woman—slight and supple, and apparently young—shot into view, and came rapidly towards them.

Her dress, though quaint and pretty, was not particularly striking; but her feet, clad in patent leather shoes, with buckles that shone brightly in the moonlight, were oddly conspicuous, in spite of the fact that they were small and partially hidden ’neath a skirt which was long and frilled, and not at all in accordance with the present fashion. Something about her prevented both men from speaking, and they involuntarily moved nearer to one another as she approached. On and on she came, tripping along, and never varying her pace. Now in a zone of moonlight, now in the dark belt of shadows from the firs and larches, she drew nearer and nearer. Through the hedge, Brown could dimly perceive the figure of a cow, immensely magnified, standing dumb and motionless, apparently lost, like he was, in spellbound observation. The silence kept on intensifying. Not a breath of air, not a leaf stirring, not a sound from Reynolds, who stood with arms folded like a statue; only the subdued trickle, trickle of the spring, and the hard tap, tap, tap of the flashing, sparkling shoes.

At last the woman was abreast of them. They shrank back and back, pressing farther and farther into the hedge, so close that the sharp twigs and brambles scratched their faces and tore their clothes. She passed. Down, down, down, still tripping daintily, until the sepulchral blackness of the dip swallowed her up. They could still hear her tap, tap, tap; and for some seconds neither spoke. Then Reynolds, releasing his clothes from the thorns, muttered huskily: “At last I’ve seen a ghost, and I always scoffed at them.”

“But her head!” Brown ejaculated, “where was it?”

“Don’t ask me,” Reynolds replied, his teeth chattering. “She had no head. At least I didn’t see any. Dare you go on?”

“What, down there?” Brown said, nodding in the direction of the dip.

“Well, we must, if we are to get home to-night,” Reynolds retorted, “and I’m frozen.”

“Wait till that noise ceases, then,” Brown answered. “I can’t stand seeing a thing like that twice in one night.”

They stood still and listened, until the tapping gradually died away in the far distance, and the only sound to be heard was that of the water, the eternal, never ceasing, never varying sound of the water. Then they ran—ran as they had never run since long ago Rugby days—down through the inky darkness of the hollow and out—far out into the brightness of the great stretch of flat country beyond; and, all the time they ran, they neither looked to the right nor to the left, but always on the ground just ahead of them.


For a week the horror of what they had seen was so great that neither of the two men could bear to be alone in the dark; and they kept a light in their respective rooms all night. Then a strange thing happened. Brown became infatuated, he did nothing but rave, all day, about the ghost. She had the prettiest figure, the whitest hands, the daintiest feet he had ever seen, and he was sure her face must be equally lovely. Why couldn’t he see it? There was nothing about the neck to show she had been decapitated, and yet the head was missing. Why?

He worried Reynolds to death about it, and he gave no one else any peace. That waist, those delicate white fingers, those rosy, almond-shaped nails, those scintillating shoe buckles! They got on his brain. They obsessed him. He was like a maniac.

At last, at the suggestion of Reynolds, who wanted to get rid of him for awhile, he came up to London and paid visits to most of the professional mediums and occultists in the West End.

Some advised him one thing, and some another. Some immediately went into trances and learned from their controlling spirits all about the headless phantom, who she was, why she paraded the high road, and what had become of her head. But it was significant that no two told him alike, and that the head he so longed to see had at least a dozen different hiding-places. At last, when he had expended quite a small fortune, and his brain was much addled with psychic nomenclature, with detailed accounts of the Astral Plane, Karmas, Elementals, Elementaries, White Lodges, and What not, he interviewed a woman, living somewhere in the Bayswater direction, who suggested that he should hold a séance in the haunted hollow, and who promised, with a great show of condescension, to act as his medium if he would pay her the trifling sum of twenty pounds.

At first Brown declared the thing impossible, since he did not, at that moment, possess twenty pounds, which was literally true; but the prospect of seeing the ghost’s face at length proved too much for him, and he decided to pawn all he had, in order to gratify his longing.

He closed with the offer. When the night fixed for the séance arrived, the weather conditions were all that could be desired; the air was soft and calm, the moon brilliant, the sky almost cloudless, and promising only the finest weather for days to come. As the medium insisted upon a party of at least four, Brown persuaded a Mr. and Mrs. de Roscovi, Russians, to come, and they all set out together from Sudbury shortly after ten o’clock. Brown had made many inquiries in the neighbourhood as to the phantom figure, but he had only come across two people who would tell him anything about it. One, a farmer, assured him that he had on several occasions seen the ghost when driving, and that, on each occasion, it had kept abreast of his horse, even though the latter was careering along the road half mad with fright. But what terrified him most, he said, was that the apparition had no head.

The other, a blacksmith, said he had seen the woman twice, and that each time he had seen her she had been carrying something tucked under her arm, which he had fancied was a head. But he had been too scared to look at it very closely, and he only knew for certain that where her head should have been there was nothing. Both he and the farmer said they had heard all their lives that the road was haunted, but for what reason they had never been able to discover, as within the past sixty years, at any rate, neither murder nor suicide was known to have taken place near the hollow. This is as far as Brown had got with his investigations when he set out from Sudbury on the night in question. The de Roscovis did not think, for one moment, that the ghost would appear. They said, few people apparently had seen it; its visits in all probability were only periodical; and weeks, months, or even years might elapse before it put in an appearance there again.

“That may be, but then we have a medium,” Brown argued. “I engaged her to invoke the ghost, provided it would not come of its own accord. You can invoke it, can’t you, Madame Valenspin?”

Madame Valenspin now seemed rather dubious. “I have never tried in the open before,” she said, with a slight shiver, “but I will do my best. The conditions seem favourable; but I can’t say definitely till we arrive at the exact spot.”

Brown, however, could not help observing that the farther they advanced into the country, which became more and more lonely, the more restless and uneasy Madame Valenspin grew.

Once or twice she halted, as if irresolute whether to go on or not, and the moment she caught sight of the hollow she came to a dead stop.
“Not down there,” she said. “It’s too dark. We’d better stay here.”

It was frightfully still. Brown listened for the murmuring of water. There was none. The recent hot sun had probably dried up the spring. Through the same gap in the hedge he saw a big cow—possibly, so he thought, the same cow—and he took it as a favourable augury for the appearance of the ghost that the animal, as before, was gazing fixedly into the open space, as if momentarily expecting to see something.

Behind it, away back in the broad expanse of field, were other cattle, their skins startlingly white; all motionless, and all in attitudes suggestive of a sense of anticipation, of a conscious waiting for something. The sepulchral hush was uninterrupted saving by bats, assuredly the biggest and blackest Brown had ever seen, wheeling and skimming, with the faintest perceptible whiz, whiz, whiz, in and out the larches; and the soft intermittent fanning of the leaves as the night breeze came rustling over the flat country and continued its career down into the hollow. A rabbit scurried across the road from one gate to another, its white breast shining silver, and some other small furry creature, of a species undetected, created a brief pandemonium in a neighbouring ditch. Otherwise all nature was extraordinarily passive.

“The figure went right down into the hollow,” Brown said. “I think we ought to try there. What do you think, Mrs. de Roscovi?”

“I am of the same opinion as Madame Valenspin,” Mrs. de Roscovi replied, glancing apprehensively at the dip. “I think we had far better stay where we are.”
“Very well, then,” Brown said, “let’s begin. You are mistress of the ceremonies, Madame Valenspin. Will you tell us what to do?”

Madame Valenspin moved to one side of the road, and stood with her back resting against a gate. “Keep quite close to me,” she said, “and I will try and go under control. Ah!” She ejaculated the last syllable so sharply that Brown and Mrs. de Roscovi both started. She then began to mumble something, and then, breaking into a shrill, high-pitched key, stated that she was no longer Madame Valenspin but a spirit called Anne Heathcote, who was her temporary control. Anne Heathcote, so the audience were informed, was the ghost of a girl of very great beauty, who had been murdered in an adjoining field, close on a hundred years ago. There was no apparent motive for the deed, which was accomplished in a peculiarly barbarous fashion, the head being cut right off and thrown in a pit that had long since been filled in. The criminal was never caught.

“Can’t you appear to us with your head on,” Brown asked, “just as you were in your lifetime?”

“No,” the alleged spirit replied. “I am forbidden to do so. My visits are only periodical, and I shan’t be able to materialise again here for at least ten years.”

“Then there is little hope of my ever seeing you,” Brown said, bitterly disappointed.

“None,” was the somewhat abrupt answer.

“But why should you haunt this place at all?” Mr. de Roscovi asked. “What reason is there for your being earth-bound?”

“My sins,” the control replied. “I was a very wicked girl.”

“I don’t care whether you were wicked or not,” Brown put in mournfully. “I want to see you. If your face is in keeping with your limbs and figure, it must indeed be lovely. Is there no way of seeing you—just for a second?”

“None,” the control answered. Then, with much more emphasis, “None.”

But hardly had the alleged Anne Heathcote spoken, when far away in the distance came the sound of footsteps. Tap, tap, tap!

“Why! By Jove!” Brown shouted, “there she is! I recognise her step. I should know it in a million.”

For a minute everyone was silent, the tapping growing more and more audible. Then Madame Valenspin, in quite her own voice, exclaimed excitedly: “Let us be going. The spirits tell me we mustn’t remain here any longer. Let’s go back by the fields.”

She fumbled with the latchet of the gate, against which she had been leaning, and hurriedly tried to raise it.

Mrs. de Roscovi said nothing, but gripped her husband by the arm. The steps approached rapidly, and presently the same dainty form, Brown had previously seen when with Reynolds, once more figured on the horizon.

“It is—it is she!” Brown whispered. “Look—the waist, the arms, the hands, the shoes. Silver buckles! How they flash!”

An exclamation of horror interrupted him. It was from Mr. de Roscovi. He had moved to one side of the road, dragging his wife with him, and the two were standing huddled together, their eyes fixed in a frenzied stare at the phantom’s neck. Brown, forcing his attention away from the long slim hands which so fascinated him, followed their glances. The neck was not as he remembered it, white and slender as far as it went, but it ended abruptly in a grey nothingness, and beyond this nothingness Brown fancied he discerned the dimmest of shadows. He was appalled but fascinated, and intense curiosity far outweighed his fear. He was certain she was beautiful—beautiful to a degree that immeasurably excelled any feminine loveliness he had hitherto encountered. He must see her face. He did not believe her head was missing; he believed it was there on her body right enough, but that for some specific reason it had not materialised. He turned to Madame Valenspin to inquire the cause, and was greatly astonished to see her beating a hasty retreat across the fields. The figure had now come up to where he was standing, and tripping past him, it sped swiftly down the dip. Brown at once gave chase. He had not gone many yards before the darkness of the dip was on him; and the only clue he had to his quarry’s whereabouts was the sound of the shoes—the constant tap, tap, tapping. On and on he went, however, and at length, emerging from the darkness, he perceived a wooden stile and beyond it a tiny path, threading its way through a clump of firs that gradually grew thinner and thinner till they finally terminated in what appeared to be a broad clearing. Mounting the stile and springing off on the other side, the woman tripped along the path, and, turning for a moment to beckon Brown, disappeared from view.

The intense loneliness of the spot, emphasised a thousandfold by the eerie effect of the few straggling moonbeams that fell aslant the stile and pathway, and the knowledge that he had left his companions far behind made Brown falter, and it was some seconds before he could gather up the courage to continue his pursuit. A light girlish laugh, however, proceeding apparently from the spot where the figure had vanished, determined him. He saw once again vividly before him that willowy waist, those slim, delicate fingers, and those coquettish little feet. Were the devil itself to bar his way he must see her face. Sweating with terror, and yet withal obsessed with a passion that defies description, Brown mounted the stile and hastened in the direction of the laugh. Again it rang out, charged to overflowing with innocent fun and frolic, irresistibly girlish, irresistibly coy. This time there was no mistaking its locality. It came from behind a small clump of trees that bordered on the clearing. Wild with excitement and full of love madness, Brown dashed round the clump, and then halted. Floating in mid-air was a head, a head that looked as if it had long since been buried and just disinterred. The eyes alone lived, and they were fixed on Brown’s with a mocking, baneful glitter. Hanging on either side of it was a mass of long fair hair, suggestive of a woman.

Every detail in the face stood out with hideous clearness in the brilliancy of the moonlight, and as Brown stared at it, petrified with horror, the thing laughed.