Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bibliophagi: Book-Eaters

Apocalypse of St. John
Orthodox Icon (16th century)
Note Angel Offering Book
(Image from Wikipedia)

Speaking of men becoming books, I ought to also note that Holbrook Jackson speaks similarly of books becoming men . . . through being ingested, but the proof in the pudding at times fails to agree with the bibliophage:
Books (argues the Critic in Petrarch's treatise on Fortune) have led some to learning and others to madness, when they swallow more than they can digest; for sometimes the best of them are sweet in the mouth but bitter in the belly, as St. John the Divine found after he had ate up that little book which he took from the open hand of the Angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. (Jackson, Anatomy of Bibliomania, 162)
Perhaps a closer reading of St. John's 'own' words is necessary, and since this is a literary entry, let's quote the Authorized Version of Revelation 10:
1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow [was] upon his head, and his face [was] as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: 2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and [his] left [foot] on the earth, 3 And cried with a loud voice, as [when] a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. 5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer: 7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. 8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go [and] take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. 9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take [it], and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. 10 And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. 11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
With the multiplicity of voices, this passage can rather readily overwhelm the reader. We overhear an angel crying out, seven thunders uttering their voices, a voice from heaven speaking, John narrating it all, and a little book about to make John prophesy. A bit noisy, actually, almost cacophonous!

The intriguing point is that John has to eat the "little book" (βιβλαριδιον, i.e., biblaridion), which tastes like honey (manna?) but makes his stomach bitter (πικραινω, i.e., pikrainō), in order to prophesy! Or so it seems. Apparently, he will vomit forth the little book of God's words -- the Book of Revelation itself, perhaps? -- even if merely metaphorically.

That might explain the many, many half-digested interpretations of this bitterly baffling book . . .

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At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where's Cran when you need him?


At 8:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

When I saw 'Anonymous', I was expecting Uncle Cran . . . but he must be rather busy with farm and life.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:52 AM, Blogger Sa-Rah said...

Was the book that the angel gave to John was sweet in the mouth but bitter in the stomach because he ate somthing that he couldn't digest?

Is that something like me overeating Outback food which tastes really good, but was too much to eat?


P.S. Uncle Cranford is Anonymous?
Cool!! But I guess he's busy as you said so.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Sa-Rah said...

I had to delete my first comment because it had to be corrected... or maybe the first comment was correct?

Please correct anything wrong for me^^


At 12:11 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sa-Rah, I've further deleted the deleting notice. Other corrections:

. . . something . . .

. . . busy as you said.

Other than these two, the comment looks correct to me.

The book itself was apparently indigestible.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The little book is the Bible and its message. There is coming a day when God will pour his wrath out on this world, The Rapture of the Church. The Message "is no one is righteous, no not one, for all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The Good News is the Gospel of God. Have your ever received Christ by faith into your heart ? Here is a short prayer. Lord I know that I am a sinner, I also believe that your son Jesus died on the cross for me, I asking you to come into my heart and save me from sins, in Jesus name amen. You either accept or Reject Christ. If accept Christ eternal life and the forgiveness of sins, if you reject the message eternal seperation from God. The message of the Cross. There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. The angels are rejoicing in heaven and God is happy to have you joined in the Family of God, you are his child. Free Grace . For by grace are you saved thru faith and not of works lest any man should boast tis a gift from God. A gift is freely given, cant work for, cant earn it. Just receive it by faith. The word of faith we preach. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. My Gods grace be with you.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If the little book is the Bible, then it would likely refer only to the Old Testament since the New Testament didn't exist as canonical text in the time that Revelation was written.

Jeffery Hodges

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