Sorry to interrupt, but I must be going. The ides of March have come; this, by painful count, is Communication No. 162 from Eutychus, and it’s time for a change. My inclination is to loiter a bit, hat and doorknob in hand, but the Eutychus image seems to call for a more abrupt departure, by another exit.

I need only insist, in tribute to the astonishing patience of the editor and my kin, that I wasn’t pushed.

My successor, Eutychus II, will make the windowsill fully pseudonymous once more, which is a Good Thing. You will understand the attractiveness of a pseudonym to a man called Clowney. Now that I must relinquish it, perhaps I should have my name legally changed.… Why not Edmund P. Kennedy?

Should I leave a note pinned to the windowsill for the next occupant? He won’t need my two embroidered pillows: “Well begun is half done” and “All’s well that ends well.” He doubtless knows already that only the middle of a column can be expected to write itself.

I could enclose a list of choice targets for his “lover’s quarrel with the church” (the phrase is Robert Frost’s epitaph rendered in Ecclesian). But, then, he will have his own way of dealing with Mrs. Fixture in the Sunday school or Dr. Eugene Ivy in the manse. The ambitious pseudo-surveys conducted by Eutychus Associates are his at the stroke of a pen.

A note won’t be necessary. A greeting card will do: a card to encourage Eutychus II to keep his balance, for Eutychus’ windowsill seems narrow at times. Between profane mockery and pretentious sobriety, there is a whole new world, but somehow we have difficulty finding even sitting-room.

My greeting to Eutychus is one that I know he will understand. It is the sign of the laughter of grace. It forms the coda for all service of Christ: not a bang or a whimper, but a shout of joy.

On the card I shall write, ISAAC.

One Great Peril

Your editorial in the February 1 issue … states the case with reference to the atheists in very strong terms.… I believe we are in great danger of the American heritage disappearing. The almighty secular state without moral absolutes and a transcendent judgment is one great peril of the hour.…

The National Presbyterian Church

Washington, D. C.

Re the editorial “What About the Atheists?”: I believe the challenge of James Russell Lowell still holds. He said, “When the microscopic search of skepticism, which has haunted the heavens and sounded the seas to disprove the existence of a Creator, has turned its attention to human society and has found a place on this planet, ten miles square, where a decent man can live in decency, comfort and security, supporting and educating his children unspoiled and unpolluted; a place where age is reverenced, womanhood defended, and human life held in due regard; where skepticism can find such a place ten miles square on the globe where the gospel of Christ has not gone and cleared the way and laid the foundations and made decency and security possible, it will then be in order for the skeptical literati to move thither and ventilate their views. But so long as these men are dependent upon the religion they discard for every privilege they enjoy, they may well hesitate a little before they seek to rob the Christian of his hope and humanity of its Saviour.”

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The Rector’s Roost

Fair Haven, N. Y.

William F. Albright

In the January 18th issue Dr. W. F. Albright commented that he was unable to accept any of Dr. Cyrus H. Gordon’s “three successive decipherments” of Minoan Linear A. It is misleading to speak of “three decipherments.” In the course of deciphering any ancient language there are always many trials and many “false starts” before the solution is achieved. And even when that point is reached, there are some critics who will never acknowledge it. The late Michael Ventris worked for many years on the assumption that Linear B was Etruscan until he was confronted by conclusive evidence that it was in fact a very early form of Greek. His brilliant decipherment of Linear B is accepted now by the majority of classical scholars. Yet there are still some, such as Dr. A. J. Beattie of Edinburgh and Dr. E. Grumach of Berlin, who remain totally unconvinced by his evidence.

In Gordon’s case it would be more correct to speak of “three stages” in his progress toward a solution of the riddle of Minoan Linear A. In an article in Antiquity, Vol. 31 (1957), entitled “Notes on Minoan Linear A” he first proposed that the language was “a Semitic dialect from the shores of the East Mediterranean.” At this point he did not attempt to define more precisely its classification within the Semitic family of languages.

Later in the same year in another article in the same journal he took the next step. On the basis of many lexical identifications and a few syntactical observations (the conjunction u seemed to point to an East Semitic identification) Gordon tentatively proposed that the tablets were written in Accadian, the lingua franca of the Near East in the mid-second millennium B.C.

Up to this point evidence had been largely isolated lexical items with only a few syntactical clues. When early in 1962 he came upon an entire sentence of a dedicatory inscription incised on a stone altar with pure West Semitic vocabulary and syntax, it is to his credit that Gordon quickly retracted his earlier, tentative identification of the language.

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Meanwhile his conclusions regarding the earliest stages of the Minoan language were receiving corroboration from simultaneous work on the later stages of the language of the Minoans, the in triguing Eteocretan inscriptions composed in a hitherto unrecognizable language written in Greek uncials. Gordon found that these latter inscriptions were also composed in a West Semitic language! The two astounding discoveries were presented together at the Spring meeting of the American Oriental Society and published in the July issue of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies.

Gordon’s treatment of Minoan grammar is scheduled to appear in a forthcoming issue of Orientalia, and further evidence from a sixth century B.C. Eteocretan-Greek bilingual will appear in a coming issue of the journal of Semitic Studies. We would venture to prophesy in words similar to those penned by Dr. Albright in a 1946 review article of Gordon’s Ugaritic Grammar that his future work on Minoan grammar and texts will be of greater lasting significance for O. T. and Homeric Greek research than any dozen assorted recent commentaries taken together.

Department of Mediterranean Studies

Brandeis University

Waltham, Mass.

Dr. Albright’s phenomenal scholarship together with his sincerity and candor of mind have caused many to look to him for leadership in research. Bible-believing Christians may be grateful that he has not advocated the views of some of the more liberal critics.

Serious objection, however, must be raised against the position which, as an “empirical historian,” he espouses (cf. From The Stone Age to Christianity, 1957 ed., pp. 390, 399). First, what ultimate authority is there to validate this viewpoint? Does it not assume the ultimacy of the human mind as capable of judging in such matters? Is it not, therefore, diametrically opposed to genuine Christian theism? Second, logically this position allows for the views of radical scholars as well as for those of Dr. Albright. It is only by a happy inconsistency that, having adopted this standpoint, Dr. Albright does not go as far as others. For this inconsistency we are grateful, but we wish Dr. Albright would examine the basis upon which he stands as an “empirical historian.” Indeed, we would sincerely say to him, Cum talis sis, utinam noster esses.

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Westminster Theological Seminary

Philadelphia, Pa.

All of us are indebted to Professor Albright and to CHRISTIANITY TODAY for the exceedingly interesting interview.… Those of us who have been working with Cyrus H. Gordon feel that in addition to Albright’s concise remarks some further points may be made.

When asked what he thought of Gordon’s statement that the decipherment of Linear A was “more important to historians than the Dead Sea Scrolls” (news release, April 4, 1962), Albright replied that: (a) he could not accept Gordon’s decipherment; (b) the Dead Sea Scrolls surpassed all other discoveries for biblical studies. It should be noted that:

1. Gordon himself has stressed the importance of the Scrolls: “While Ugarit is revolutionizing the problem of Old Testament origins, the Dead Sea Scrolls are doing the same for the New Testament” (Adventures in the Nearest East, 1957, p. 11).

The Scrolls are indeed important. But it may be asked: Important for what? and important in what respects?

2. Gordon has said: “The numerous Old Testament documents found at Qumran are of importance for the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible” (The Reconstructionist, May 4, 1956, p. 10). “Normative Judaism in Greco-Roman Palestine can explain some, but not all, of the background of the New Testament; the sectarian Jewish background (of Qumran) is also of great significance” (p. 11).

3. Albright similarly said in his introduction to From the Stone Age to Christianity, 1957, p. 1, “There have also been some utterly unexpected discoveries, such as that of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which revolutionize our knowledge of the text of the Old Testament and of the Jewish background, time of composition, and historical position of the New Testament.”

4. Two pages further Albright added: “My approach to the Hellenistic and New Testament periods remains the same in all fundamentals, though the Dead Sea Scrolls have revolutionized details” (italics ours). So also Miller Burrows of Yale declared: “For myself I must go farther and confess that, after studying the Dead Sea Scrolls for seven years, I do not find my understanding of the New Testament substantially affected. Its Jewish background is clearer and better understood, but its meaning has neither been changed nor significantly clarified” (The Dead Sea Scrolls, 1955, p. 343).

To summarize, the Scrolls are most important particularly for Old Testament textual study and for New Testament backgrounds, not so much in essentials but in details.

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For readers who are not familiar with the terms, we might explain that: “Linear A is a syllabic script that was used by the Minoans of Crete from 1750 to 1450 B.C. Linear B which uses many of the same symbols as the former, nonetheless represents a different language. It was used from 1450 to about 1100 B.C. Eteocretan, which employs Greek letters, was used by remnants of the original Minoan population until at least 300 B.C.” (cf. further my article on the subject in the August, 1962, issue of Eternity).

5. Albright clearly recognized the importance of Linear B. In the same introduction to “From the Stone Age …” he said: “The most striking advance in decipherment is without doubt the decoding of the Minoan-Mycenaean Linear B script.… To the surprise of most scholars it turns out that the language of these tablets … was an early form of Classical Greek” (p. 5).

6. Before the decipherment of Linear B, the Bronze Age of Greece was not illuminated by any contemporary records. Professor Palmer of Oxford hailed Ventris’ feat as “a turning point in the study of the Late Bronze Age of the Aegean (that is 1550–1100 B.C.).”

7. Thus if we are to grant Gordon’s decipherment of Linear A-Eteocretan as Semitic—along with a growing number of outstanding scholars at home and abroad—we must admit that this development is as revolutionary if not more so than the decipherment of Linear B. Indeed the decipherment of Linear A gives us an altogether new understanding of the intertwining early roots of Western civilization.

8. What this would then show is that the early phase of Greek civilization was built on an essentially Semitic Minoan civilization. This leads to the observation, in Gordon’s own words, “that Greek and Hebrew civilisations are parallel structures built upon the same East Mediterranean foundation” (p. 9 of his latest book, Before the Bible, recently published by Harper, in which he sets forth in detail the evidence for this thesis; Arnold J. Toynbee in his review of this book in the London Observer, December 16, 1962, fully accepts Gordon’s historical reconstruction).

We may conclude that both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the decipherments of Linear A and Linear B are of outstanding importance: The Scrolls, on the one hand, contribute to biblical studies with a wealth of details in a more direct fashion; the decipherments, on the other hand, affect classical and biblical studies of the second millennium B.C. with more radical implications.

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Department of Mediterranean Studies

Brandeis University

Waltham, Mass.

Dr. Albright’s statement regarding “authentic mysteries” still leaves me unsure of his attitude. Granted that biblical miracles are usually not “the kind of truth that an archaeologist can validate,” did they actually occur as recorded? The Feeding of the Five Thousand is recorded in all four Gospels as a “work” of Jesus, witnessed by a great multitude, many of whom were without spiritual discernment; but “they ate of the loaves and were filled.” Does Dr. Albright accept this miracle as an actual event, regardless of archaeology? When he says, “God is just as active … in the world as ever,” does he mean that such miracles as are recorded in the Scriptures have occurred in post-apostolic times and are occurring today?

Wayne, Pa.

Separation Of Covenants

I’ve just read the editorial (“The Winds of the Spirit”) in the January 4 issue and am delighted with it.…

My basic concern, apart from destroying the false legend about early America, was to emphasize the creative power of the great revivals and call for a new burst of evangelical strength (you are quite right that “culture-religion” is as much a curse of the liberal wing, historically speaking, as it is of the radical right). My own ancestors came to Massachusetts very early—1620, 1639, 1659—and the only section that wasn’t here before 1700 was the Huguenot line from which I got my name. All of them came for religious reasons so I’m quite aware, having been raised on it, of the devotion of some of the early settlers. The fact remains, however, that the colonists as a whole were unchurched and came for other reasons. The “Half-Way Covenant” was a concession to economic and political reality, and there were plenty of other examples in the colonial period of the fact that the facts of life were working against the high ideals of the early fathers. We should give them every honor where honor is due, but I think we need to avoid delusions as to what the masses of the people believed or didn’t believe.

I don’t think that we have a “wall of separation,” or have ever had it, or that it is necessarily a good thing if we should. This is what irritates me so, in the dogmatic secularism of Mr. Justice Black—which I think is just as contrary to good American principles as the romantic nonsense of Mr. Edwin Walker. What the first amendment raised up was the separation of the political covenant from the religious covenants, that is, a principle of religious voluntaryism. This we should affirm and strengthen.

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To strengthen it means to strengthen the principle of religious liberty, but more than that to strengthen the voluntary support of the churches which makes this workable.

The Chicago Theological Seminary

Chicago, Ill.

Brother Daniel’S Exclusion

The ruling of the highest tribunal of Israel in the case of “Brother Daniel” (Editorial, Jan. 4 issue) brought to a focal point a series of anti-Christian attacks … here in our own land as well as in Israel.…

Why should a Jew who believes in Christ not be eligible to all the rights and privileges to which any other Jew is entitled? The answer … reads more like an excuse or an evasion. By adopting Christianity, the judges ruled, “Brother Daniel” has severed all his ties with the Jewish people. On what ground could they have based such a decision?… “Brother Daniel” came of Jewish stock.… I am sure that the judges … do not really believe that some baptismal water or some recitation of certain words is so potent as to magically transmute a person of one race into that of another. And “Brother Daniel” denied ever having severed his connection with the Jewish people. Biologically there was no change in Daniel, and so the only change involved was certain conceptions of religion for which he could be charged.…

One of the judges said that the nation cannot forget the persecution which Christendom has meted out against the Jewish people. They cannot forget this because the leaders have hammered into the Jewish brain the fiction that Christianity has been responsible for all the suffering of the Jews through all the ages.… It is extremely difficult to grasp why the intelligentsia of Israel should perpetuate such ludicrous falsehoods. There they have free libraries where history books can give the true facts which the leaders in the ghettos withheld from the people. Even the New Testament is no longer taboo in Israel. Everyone has access to it.…

Why keep on reminding the people about the horrors of the Inquisition, for instance? The Inquisition was no more Christian than it was Jewish. It burned more Christians (even bishops) who fell into its hands, than Jews. Most of the Jews whom it killed were converted Jews who, according to the ruling of the Israeli court … were not Jews at all. We might add here that the Inquisition was not based on … the New Testament, but on the teachings of the Old Testament with its laws of rooting out heretics.…

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Why should Jews hold every Christian today … responsible for deeds of which he is altogether innocent? Is it not only because of the false conception that all people confessing one faith are responsible for each other’s deeds? Who more than the Jews should know how wicked such an idea is? Have they not experienced horrible tribulation because malevolent people have accused and punished them for deeds which some Jews, somewhere, sometime have done or were supposed to have done?

… The greatest crime ever perpetrated against the Jewish people was the slaughter of 6 million Jews by the Germans. Yet, the State of Israel has already established cordial relations with the German people.… It seems to be easier to overlook and forgive the Nazi crimes because it is not so easy to ascribe them to Christianity, although some Jewish fanatics attribute even these horrors to Christianity because (as I read recently in one of the American Jewish publications) “these butchers were nurtured in Christian homes”.…

The State of Israel came into being with the help of Christians. There was little if any help from non-Christian countries or individuals; and up to date the State has been kept intact only with the help of Christians.… Only Christians who believe in the Bible as the Word of God also believe that the Jews have a right to possess the Land of Israel. Non-Christians consider the Jews as usurpers in Israel, and feel that the dispossessed Arabs should be assisted in regaining their land.…

These are facts well known to many of the important leaders of Israel, but … they are pressured by a small minority of obscurants who … are gaining more and more power and pushing the people back into medievalism: (1) by forcing upon the majority laws which they detest; (2) by indoctrinating hate and contempt against the civilized world which is identical with the “Christian World.”

May the Lord bless the leaders of Israel and grant them grace and courage to lead their people to reconciliation with God and mankind.


International Board of Jewish Missions

Atlanta, Ga.

I must confess that I am a little surprised at your reaction to the Israeli High Court decision regarding Father Daniel.…

I suspect some of the reaction in the Christian community regarding this decision springs from a theological view of the continuity between Judaism and Christianity which Jews do not share. Because of my close, fruitful, and gratifying relationship with Christians, I have a sympathetic understanding of their views, … but I believe that a sympathetic effort should also be made on the Christian side to appreciate the widely held view that a Jew who converts to Christianity has disassociated himself from the Jewish people.

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I would agree with you that the situation was different in the first century; I am sure we would not agree about the reasons for this.

Interreligious Affairs Department

The American Jewish Committee

New York, N. Y.

I am writing you in response to your comments on the recent important Israeli Court decision concerning Father Daniel which raises “the provocative question—‘who is a Jew?’ ” I certainly recognize your right to your opinion and to your interpretation, but I trust that you also recognize the possibility of other views, and if not agreeing, will at least try to understand. I cannot help but feel that your conclusion: “the Hebrew-Christian is twice rejected: he is disowned because he is a Christian, and on this ground is viewed further as legally not a first-rate Jew”—does a gross injustice to the entire controversy. (I can certainly understand from your theological position why you would want to maintain a unity between the term Jew and Christian but what is at stake here from a Jewish view is the realization that the terms Jew and Christian are mutually exclusive.) The issue in the Israeli Court decision is as follows:

1. Orthodox religious law takes the position that essentially, “once a Jew always a Jew”; even the apostate remains a Jew on the basis of the hope that at some stage in his life he may see the error of his ways and return to his true faith.

2. It is true that a non-orthodox Jew does not have equal religious status as yet, but there are signs of the beginnings of a liberal Jewish movement in Israel, which indicate that it is only a matter of time before this equality is achieved. The Israeli Court decision, contrary to Orthodox law, is a sign, of this trend.

Whereas the Orthodox religious Jew could conceivably accept Father Daniel under the broadest definition of “who is a Jew?,” for non-orthodox such a definition is not conceivable. The Reform and Conservative Jew would stress that the term Jew is meaningful not as a mere identity tag, but because it stands for a specific ever-evolving religious spirit and heritage. When one becomes a Christian (whatever he was at birth) he enters a separate religious heritage. The Israeli Court was simply making this clear. Father Daniel has every right to enter Israel as any other Christian would enter.… This was all the decision meant to accomplish.

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Jewish Chaplain

Sepulveda Veterans Administration Hospital

Sepulveda, Calif.

The verdict of the Israeli Court and its motivation is unfair, unreasonable, and arbitrary. It is based chiefly on prejudice against Christianity and on religious fanaticism. Christianity is as much an offspring of biblical Judaism. No one should be denied his national status merely because he chooses this or the other form of Judaism.

The implication of the verdict is that any Jew, regardless of the fact that he may deny God or scoff at all the laws of rabbinic Judaism, is, in the eyes of the Court, still a Jew, but a God-fearing, upright man like Father Daniel, born of Jewish parents, who has shown his devotion to his Jewish kinsmen by risking his own life to save theirs—such a man “desecrates the concept of Jew,” just because he believes in Jesus who was also a Son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

Just before the decision of the court, in a personal letter, Father Daniel stated: “I believe in the fairness and objectivity of the Judges of Israel.” We did also.…


Philadelphia, Pa.

Philadelphia, Pa.

New York, N. Y.

• All are associated with the Hebrew Christian Alliance of America.—ED.

The Israel Law of Citizenship makes provision for those who wish to become citizens of Israel to do so on the basis of three years of residence in the country, not necessarily continuous residence but over the period of the previous five years. I understand that Brother Daniel, to whose case before the Israel Supreme Court you refer, has applied for naturalization as an Israel citizen under the Law of Citizenship. It is therefore quite incorrect to state … that the Israel High Court denied citizenship to Father Daniel.

First Secretary

Embassy of Israel

Washington, D. C.

• CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S editorial stressed that though a Jew Father Daniel was denied citizenship under the Israeli Law of Return, because he is a Christian Jew. He has since applied for, but has not yet received, naturalization under the Israeli Law of Citizenship.—ED.

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