Saturday, 5 July 2014

Our Lord as Yokel

I have been re-reading Sheed's superb To Know Christ Jesus,  and have just been struck afresh by his point about Our Lord having been raised in Galilee, and therefore (doubtless) having a local accent.

Sheed writes: Provincial accents vary; some we admire, some we smile at. The Galilean was of this latter sort. The men of Juda mocked it, very much as St Augustine's African accent caused his Italian friends to mock his speaking of the Latin which he wrote so superbly. In synagogue services, it was customary for a member of the congregation to give an explanation of one of the Scripture passages just read: in Judea, Galileans were discouraged from giving it: to have the congregation giggling would not have been seemly.

In other words, Our Lord is likely to have spoken with the kind of provincial accent which we tend to laugh at. 

At first, that seems almost an irreverent thought, Our Lord talking Mummerset... But on further reflection, it is perhaps typical. Not only did he descend from the Heavenly Heights to become Man, but he became Man in poverty, in a stable; and not only that, but chose to be male, rather than female ( Sts Augustine and Thomas Aquinas both saw the female as God's masterpiece). And not only that, but he chose to present as a rustic...

All of which led me to reflect on how quick I am to judge people by how they talk rather than by what they say.  And who does that remind me of: 'Can anything good come out of Galilee?...'

1 comment:

Marc said...

Useful insight, and Frank Sheed needs a wider readship, doesn't he.

The more unusual it becomes to have anything personally to do with the vita rustica, it is interesting to see what sorts of 'otherness' have replaced it (in the 60s in the US, TV was full of urbanites-- rather gently-- mocking rural, country folks, who always spoke in an artificial but instantly recognisable 'rural' voice).

Who does the popular culture mock these days (perhaps not gently?) for habits of speech (and who knows what else)? I don't know. Conservative and/or traditional people, perhaps; but we don't usually give ourselves away by accent. Certainly the groups that wear 'otherness' like a crown today most definitely can't be mocked at all.

Yet most of the world lives much closer to the agrarian Holy Land in the first century than we in the developed, high tech West do, I think.