‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Google Translate's Sermon on the Mount

Another exercise after the manner of this. Since Matthew chs 5-7 are amongst the most famous in the entire New Testament, I might have expected there to be many-many online renderings of them out of which Google Translate could confect a smooth and recognisable English version. Apparently not. Still: there's quite a lot in this that's interestingly estranging. I like 5:14 and 5:27, and that thou hast cast upon thy right jaw, turn it up, and thou shalt be glorious is surely good advice. The Greek text I used is here.


1 And when he came to him, he came to him: and these were his disciples.

2 And when he had spoken this word, he said,

3 Blessed are the poor of the spirit, that these are the kingdoms of the heavens.

4 Blessed are the martyrs that they are called.

5 Blessed are the hands that they inherit these things.

6 Blessed are the hungers, and they are afraid of the righteousness, that they are satisfied.

7 Blessed are the wives, that they are worshiped.

8 Blessed are the pure ones, that they are seen.

9 Blessed are the sworn men, that they are called unto thee.

10 Blessed are the founders of righteousness, that these are the kingdoms of the heavens.

11 Blessed are ye, when ye reproach, and forgiveness, and forgiveness, for the wickedness of their foolishness;

12 rejoice, and magnify, that the wages of many of those who are in the flesh have done their prophets to the earth.

13 And thou shalt be the glory of thy womb, and shalt thou go down to thee; it is true that they are being abused and abused by human beings.

14 Thou art the sons of the world. that the city may be hiding above the text;

15 which shall be lighted, and shall be upon them, in the light of the lamps, and shall shine upon them in the earth.

16 And I will shine upon the faces of the people before men, as the work of the good works, and the glory of the fathers of them that are in those overseers.

17 Do you think that you are the law of the prophet? You have come to be fulfilled.

18 And I say unto you, By the passage of the Oranas, and by the presence of an ear that passeth from the law, until it is ever glorified.

19 But if these wicked men are wounded, and they have taught these men, at least they are called into the kingdom of the nations, and they do not teach, nor teach, which is called unto the kingdom of the nations.

20 I say to you, that there is a surrender to the righteousness of the secretaries and the Pharisees, that you have come to the kingdom of the heavens.

21 Thou hast heard that the wicked is come, thou hast killed; that thou wilt not kill, that thou art judged.

22 I say to you that the fallen brother of this fellow is judged; for he does not know his brother, and he is the judge of the congregation, and he is blameless, he is blamed for him in the time of the fire.

23 Thou shalt offer thy servant for the altar, that thy brother hath whatsoever he hath done;

24 Thou hast done this thing before the altar, and thou hast first changed thy brother, and thou hast offered thy servant.

25 Wherefore thou art contrary to thee, that thou art with him in the throne, that thou shalt not go to the strange tribe, and that thou hast judged the servant, and that thou hast taken prisoner;

26 I say unto thee, Thou shalt be said, Thou shalt take away thee Kojan.

27 You heard that it was, You adulterated.

28 I say that the woman of the sight of whom thou hast said, that she hath already done this unto her heart.

29 If thou hast the right eye, thou shalt scourge thyself, and thou shalt make thyself good: thou shalt make good unto thy brethren, and with all thy souls thou hast come to pass.

30 And if your right hand chasten to them, cut them off and set them up for good; and your members shall be with you, and all your souls shall come to pass.

31 And it came to pass, that this woman rescued it, and gave it to me.

32 I say that the wife of the woman who has been disobedient to this prostitution is forgiven, and that the woman who is forgiven is baptized.

33 Thou didst say that the wicked was come, Oec, the rebuke, and the reward of thy rulers.

34 I say that I am exceedingly worthy of thee, neither of the throne of the god:

35 nor of the throne of his feet, nor of the city of the great king,

36 nor of thy head that you can have a white hair that was left over.

37 Let the word of the wrath be unto them, which hath more than these of the wicked one.

38 Thou hast heard that he was come, and that he looked upon the eye of the eye, and of the diadem.

39 But I say that I am defiant of the wicked, but that thou hast cast upon thy right jaw, turn it up, and thou shalt be glorious;

40 and thou shalt be judged, and thou hast taken away thy daughters, as thou hast, and thou hast;

41 he loves you a mile, and then he goes with that two.

42 Thou hast done unto thee, and whosoever will, he shall dare thyself uproare.

43 Thou hast heard that it is gone, that thou hast loved thee, and hate thee thine enemy.

44 I do not say unto you, love enemies you and pray for you: the persecutors,

45 genisthe as sons of the Father of you in heaven, that the sun rises over this evil and the good, and rains on the righteous and unjust.

46 Do you love that which thou hast loved? and shall they be finished?

47 And if you abhor the cousin of the wisdom only, what more are you? whiskey and its nationalities?

48 Thou art as perfect as the father of the righteous.


  1. Good heavens. Is it very idiomatic first-century Greek?

    I was puzzling over

    "Blessed are the martyrs that they are called."

    (5:4 is a fascinating verse however you translate it - I've written a bit about it here and in subsequent posts)

    but that's actually one of the better renderings here; at least you can see how they got there ("martyrs" = witnesses = people who have seen suffering; "called" = called upon = visited).

    1. That is interesting, isn't it (as is your post, or, I should say, are your posts, on this verse). Martyrs seems *just about* possible as a reading, since the Grk is οἱ πενθοῦντες, from πένθος which does quite simply mean 'grief, sorrow; mourning; a misery, misfortune'.

    2. Right. I was thinking (vaguely & irrelevantly) of the etymology of the word 'martyr', which originally meant 'witness'.