Fr Stephen Smuts

Archive for August 30th, 2011

Gaddafi and the Bible

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On the Bible Places blog:

A headline in the Jerusalem Post catches my eye: “Libya interim rulers set Saturday ultimatum for Sirte.” The first paragraph identifies Sirte as Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown. The name sounds familiar and I turn to Acts 27:17 where it says of the sailors carrying Paul to Rome: “Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along.”

Sirte sounds a lot like Syrtis and so I wonder if the city is perhaps along Libya’s northern shore. Google Maps confirms that it is…

I open up the article on “Syrtis” in the Anchor Bible Dictionary and learn that this is the name of two dangerous gulfs off the coast of modern Libya. In that article, Mark J. Olson identifies the Greater Syrtis with the modern Gulf of Sirte:

According to Strabo (2.5.20), the Greater Syrtis covered an area approximately 450–570 miles in circumference, and 170–180 miles in breadth. This is the modern Gulf of Sirte, off the coast of Libya. The Lesser Syrtis is the modern Gulf of Gabes off the coast of Tunisia. The ancient mariners’ fears of running aground while still far out at sea are echoed in Dio Chrysostomus’ warning: “Those who have once sailed into it find egress impossible; for shoals, cross-currents, and long sand-bars extending a great distance out make the sea utterly impassable or troublesome” (Or. 5.8–9)” (6: 286).

I don’t think this helps me understand the passage in Acts better, but it may help me to remember the name of Syrtis. And it does provide a modern connection when teaching students today.

A search on Google reveals that Peter Kirk has observed this connection. He wrote in March, “How appropriate it is that a biblical place of danger has now become a place of danger for Gaddafi.”

In January I recommended Gordon Franz’s article, “Why Were the Sailors Afraid of the Syrtis Sands (Acts 27:17)?

sirte-sands-of-syrtis

This screenshot from Google Earth shows Sirte in relation to Crete, Paul’s place of departure. The ship was not destroyed by the sandbars of Syrtis but instead sailed west and was wrecked on the island of Malta (Acts 28:1).

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 30, 2011 at 17:52

Posted in Church

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Man on Pilgrimage of Thanks after Recovery from Car Crash is Run Over

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And killed after only a mile into his journey. How very unfortunate:

A year earlier, he had been injured in a road accident and made a full recovery.

So the man decided to make a pilgrimage to a shrine to give thanks for his survival – only to be knocked down and killed by a car less than a mile into his trek.

The 40-year-old Spanish man died instantly after being hit by the vehicle just 20 minutes into his journey.

Two women walking with him were also killed in the accident.

The pilgrim left his home in the town of Ordes, in north-west Spain, on Saturday morning.

He planned to walk the 20 miles to Caion so that he could give thanks at the shrine of the Virgin Mary.

A spokesman for Ordes town hall told French news agency AFP: ‘He had been injured in a road accident a year earlier and wanted to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for making a full recovery.

‘But he was tragically hit by a car barely a mile into his journey and died instantly.

‘Two women walking with him, believed to be his aunts, were also killed.’

It is thought the three victims were making the journey as part of a group of six pilgrims.

An Ordes police spokesman said the driver of the car had probably fallen asleep at the wheel and that an investigation into the accident had been opened.

The above was here.

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 30, 2011 at 17:01

Posted in Culture

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ANC Youth League Riots

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But then again, you reap exactly what you sow:

The ANC has blamed its youth league for the “hooligan behaviour” by supporters of league president Julius Malema in Johannesburg’s CBD on Tuesday.

At least one policeman and five journalists were injured when youths threw stones, set bins alight and burnt images of ANC leaders ahead of Malema’s disciplinary hearing at Luthuli House, headquarters of the ruling party on the corner of Johannesburg’s busy Sauer and Pritchard streets.

The league itself also issued a statement condemning the scenes, broadcast live on eNews before parts of their camera crew’s equipment were believed to have been stolen.

“The African National Congress (ANC) strongly condemns as totally unacceptable, wanton acts of criminality and hooliganism we witnessed today outside our headquarters, Chief Albert Luthuli House, perpetrated by an unruly mob of people claiming to be ANC Youth League members,” the party said in a statement.

“The question we ask ourselves is whether these people who have the audacity to burn the ANC flag, posters with the face of ANC President Jacob Zuma and other leaders of the movement, launch attacks on police officers, hawkers and journalists, qualify to regard themselves as members of the African National Congress or any of its leagues.”

The movement was “totally shocked” by “unacceptable, criminal acts of violence” which included throwing rocks at motorists and members of the public.

The behaviour went against the values and discipline of the ANC…

I mean, look at this, an ANCYL sanctioned riot:

Hooligans indeed. The chaos even became a global trend on Twitter.

What a disgrace!

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

August 30, 2011 at 16:37

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