Monday, 9 December 2013

The Bible is not very grey!

I searched the word grey in the Bible:

2 Machabees 6:23

But he began to consider the dignity of his age, and his ancient years, and the inbred honour of his grey head, and his good life and conversation from a child: and he answered without delay, according to the ordinances of the holy law made by God, saying, that he would rather be sent into the other world.

At ille cogitare coepit aetatis ac senectutis suae eminentiam dignam, et ingenitae nobilitatis canitiem, atque a puero optimae conversationis actus: et secundum sanctae et a Deo conditae legis constituta, respondit cito, dicens praemitti se velle in infernum.

Osee (Hosea) 7:9

Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knew it not: yea, grey hairs also are spread about upon him, and he is ignorant of it.

Comederunt alieni robur ejus, et ipse nescivit; sed et cani effusi sunt in eo, et ipse ignoravit.

Isaias (Isaiah) 46:4

Even to your old age I am the same, and to your grey hairs I will carry you: I have made you, and I will bear: I will carry and will save.

Usque ad senectam ego ipse, et usque ad canos ego portabo; ego feci, et ego feram; ego portabo, et salvabo.

Ecclesiasticus 25:6

O how comely is judgment for a grey head, and for ancients to know counsel!

Quam speciosum canitiei judicium, et presbyteris cognoscere consilium!

Ecclesiasticus 6:18

My son, from thy youth up receive instruction, and even to thy grey hairs thou shalt find wisdom.

Fili, a juventute tua excipe doctrinam, et usque ad canos invenies sapientiam.

Five more, but on gray (the alternative spelling) I find only three:

Genesis 42:38

But he said: My son shall not go down with you: his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if any mischief befall him in the land to which you go, you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to hell.

At ille: Non descendet, inquit, filius meus vobiscum: frater ejus mortuus est, et ipse solus remansit: si quid ei adversi acciderit in terra ad quam pergitis, deducetis canos meos cum dolore ad inferos.

Genesis 44:29 & 31

[29] If you take this also, and any thing befall him in the way you will bring down my gray hairs with sorrow unto hell.

Si tuleritis et istum, et aliquid ei in via contigerit, deducetis canos meos cum moerore ad inferos.

[31] And he shall see that he is not with us, he will die, and thy servants shall bring down his gray hairs with sorrow unto hell.

Videritque eum non esse nobiscum, morietur, et deducent famuli tui canos ejus cum dolore ad inferos.

In the five I omitted also, gray/grey (or rather precisely grey, since that is the spelling for them) is the colour of hair between black/brown/whatever and white or may even include white hair.

No verse in the Bible describes a donkey as grey or a wave as grey or a shirt of wool as grey.

The concept of grey as a colour is perhaps pretty modern. Younger than New Testament (in which it does not occur). At least as far as the cultural range of the Latin Vulgate is concerned. I checked out the parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15, I searched on "I have sinned"), but though the father is worried his "cani" or "grey hairs"/"grey head" is not mentioned.

Grey is thus a haircolour, like blonde, not a colour like shining pale yellow.

Steel and silver are grey, but their colour is not described apart from the metal in all of the Bible. And Douay-Rheims include a few books more than the 66 Book versions.

Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

Neque per caput tuum juraveris, quia non potes unum capillum album facere, aut nigrum.

That was Matthew 5. God is telling people that colouring white hairs black doesn't count. The real age of hairs is in God's hands, not ones own. But here white - which is a more splendid colour is used rather than the rare grey.

OK, yellow is only four lines in all of the Bible. Twice "yellow hair" is a symptom of "leprosy of the head and the beard" (not same thing as healthy blonde, I suppose, and not same as leprosy in classical meaning, of the skin, which is Hansen's microbe and where an artificial cure takes half a year to a year and there is no natural cure, but then it is among other symptoms. The other two places are "yellow wine" and "yellow faces". Also not found in New Testament.

Leviticus 13:30 & 36

[30] And if the place be lower than the other flesh, and the hair yellow, and thinner than usual: he shall declare them unclean, because it is the leprosy of the head and the beard;

Et si quidem humilior fuerit locus carne reliqua, et capillus flavus, solitoque subtilior, contaminabit eos, quia lepra capitis ac barbae est.

[36] He shall seek no more whether the hair be turned yellow, because he is evidently unclean.

Non quaeret amplius utrum capillus in flavum colorem sit immutatus, quia aperte immundus est.

Proverbs 23:31

Look not upon the wine when it is yellow, when the colour thereof shineth in the glass: it goeth in pleasantly,

Ne intuearis vinum quando flavescit, cum splenduerit in vitro color ejus: ingreditur blande,

Jeremias (Jeremiah) 30:6

Ask ye, and see if a man bear children? why then have I seen every man with his hands on his loins, like a woman in labour, and all faces are turned yellow?

Interrogate, et videte si generat masculus: quare ergo vidi omnis viri manum super lumbum suum, quasi parturientis, et conversae sunt universae facies in auruginem?

Here the Latin has "all faces converted to gold-flush" (did not look up in dictionary). Unless aurugo is spelling mistake for aerugo which is patina on bronze. But that is green rather than yellow. So I do not think it is. The other two occurrences are flavus - a word as little surviving into modern languages as canus.

Brown occurs even less:

Genesis 30:32-33

[32] Go round through all thy flocks, and separate all the sheep of divers colours, and speckled: and all that is brown and spotted, and of divers colours, as well among the sheep, as among the goats, shall be my wages.

Gyra omnes greges tuos, et separa cunctas oves varias, et sparso vellere; quodcumque furvum, et maculosum, variumque fuerit, tam in ovibus quam in capris, erit merces mea.

[33] And my justice shall answer for me tomorrow before thee when the time of the bargain shall come: and all that is not of divers colours, and spotted, and brown, as well among the sheep as among the goats, shall accuse me of theft.

Respondebitque mihi cras justitia mea, quando placiti tempus advenerit coram te: et omnia quae non fuerint varia, et maculosa, et furva, tam in ovibus quam in capris, furti me arguent.

Canticles (Solomon) 1:5

Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept.

Nolite me considerare quod fusca sim, quia decoloravit me sol. Filii matris meae pugnaverunt contra me; posuerunt me custodem in vineis: vineam meam non custodivi.

Here Latin has furvus for the sheep colour and fuscus for the skin colour. Also not in whole New Testament.

The colours of the Bible are rather WHITE (58 lines found), but not black (13 lines found), which is same number of lines as grey/gray, then RED (55 lines found), but not blue (10 lines found, none NT), and thirdly (unless I missed one) GREEN (45 lines found, both Testaments).

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
St Peter Fourier
(one of four canonised curates)

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