[B-Greek] The continuum of history - of a language and generally

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Mon Apr 19 10:50:43 EDT 2010

The old curmudgeon (Laudator Temporis Acti) in his blog this morning cites E.R.Dodds, _Pagans and Christians in an Age of Anxiety: Some Aspects of Religious Experience from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine-- (1965)

I'm reminded of another classic on the same subject, lectures delivered in 1912 and published in 1935, Gilbert Murray's _Five Stages of Greek Religion_. Both of these are illuminating books, but the snippet cited from Dodds states so precisely and clearly what I have often attempted to say about diachronic perspective and about Biblical Koine Greek as "a language in flux":

"The practice of chopping history into convenient lengths and calling them 'periods' or 'ages' has of course its drawbacks. Strictly speaking, there are no periods in history, only in historians; actual history is a smoothly flowing continuum, a day following a day. And even when hindsight enables us to cut it through at a critical point, there is always a time-lag and an overlap."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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