Ferdinand WHO?

I posted this in 2013 on my Ticker blog, but recently ran across it again and found it so funny that I had to use it again.
No doubt many of you have had experiences like this one, but having it actually happen to me in person sort of brought it home.

Yesterday I went out shopping for a new desk for the ministry. I decided on a relatively inexpensive but sturdy one produced by a company named “Magellan”. When I brought my ticket to the desk, the clerk there – who will remain unidentified in any way – asked for help from one of the other clerks, and in the process pronounced the name, “Maggellin”. That’s with a hard G sound, not the J sound as is proper.

Wondering at this, I later asked the clerk if they knew who “Magellan” was. The answer was no, they didn’t.

Oh boy.

I then gave them a very short version of the story – of the expedition which circumnavigated the globe, the general date of the expedition, and how Magellan himself didn’t make it all the way around, having been killed by hostile natives in what is now the Philippines. As I related this information, the clerk’s mouth alternately dropped open and gave off exclamations of wonder. Clearly, they had never heard of any of this before – and were more than a little pleased to be made aware of the information.
In light of this sort of thing, one wonders what good it can do in some settings to offer historical apologetics. No doubt I’ll eventually run across someone who doesn’t know who Jesus is – or thinks he lived in Magellan’s time. The further problem was illustrated by a rebuttal vid I just posted this afternoon (see below) responding to some claims made by a fundy atheist (who was plagiarizing David Fitzgerald!) concerning the Roman statesman-philosopher Seneca. Each of the claims made were laughable in the extreme, and a couple that related to what Seneca said (as reported by Augustine – Seneca’s actual work on the matter is now lost) were easily debunked with a simple check of the source material.
The problem: Given this sort of historical ignorance, if a patent crackpot like Fitzgerald gets to these people first…it’s going to make our job as apologists that much harder.

So, one more thing to think about. Meanwhile, in observance of this tragic event, I ordered a used copy of a book on Magellan’s expedition which I’ll eventually review here... 

Maybe that’ll help someone else learn what they’ve been missing, too.


that's one o the real problems of doing apologetic now days in the post human era;what's the point doing apologetic when thye ignorance level is so high it makes no difference if anyone has an intellectual argument or not.
Anonymous said…
An atheist was plagiarizing David Fitzgerald. Was his name Papalinton, by any chance?
Jason Pratt said…
Welllllll.... since Magellan was Portuguese, neither hard G nor soft G is the right way to pronounce his name anyway. (And both are attested in English dictionaries.) It's supposed to sound like an English h! {lopsided hard g}

For that matter, strictly speaking his name wasn't Magellan at all. Or Ferdinand. It was Fernao de Magalhaes.

This has some relevance to how much apologetic detail is enough apologetic detail. I'm a picky detail oriented guy, who likes granularity, so (to pull an example from my recent article series) I'm likely to point out when talking about Peter that his name sounds like KEH-fahs, and not SEE-fahs. But does the pronunciation of a name really matter? Maybe a little out of cultural respect, but I think I have to admit not as much as I enjoy making it matter. (And for all I know, I'm wrong about the emphasized syllable in Aramaic!)

So similarly, as long as we know from context who we're talking about, it doesn't really matter much (except for cultural respect) to call Jesus JEE-zus, or HAY-zeus, or ee(ih)-AY-sous or YEH-shoo-ah or yeh-HAH-shoo-ah or IHSS-ee or JAH-shoo-ah. What matters is what he said and did, or in some cases chose not to do, what he succeeded at or failed at. Just like all of us.

(Except of course in Jesus' case, infinitely much moreso.)

Jason Pratt said…
(And yes, I know there are supposed to be tildes over some of those vowels; I don't know how to make them with this keyboard. Granularity! {g!})


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