I have just returned from Washington, DC, where Susie and I had dinner with my big sister, Barbara [she who periodically puts me onto splendid books on Biology] and my son, Tobias, who was in town for the Supreme Court hearing today on same-sex marriage. Tobias wrote and submitted a lead amicus brief on the second question before the court [whether same-sex marriages in one jurisdiction must be recognized in other jurisdictions], and as this may be the triumphant culmination of a struggle in which he has played an extremely important part, he wanted to be on hand for the oral arguments.
While I was away, several people offered very interesting comments on my two-part Auerbach post that call for some response from me. Jerry Fresia in part says this: "This strict separation of styles seems to be a manifestation of the utter
contempt that ruling people have had for the lowest of the low that in their
(ruling types) [eyes] have rendered common people historically invisible." He gives several examples, prompting me to tell [or is it re-tell?] a story of my own experience in South Africa.
In 1986, while I was lecturing on Marx for five weeks to the second-year Philosophy students at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, I was invited by the Chair of the Department, Jonathan Susman [nephew, I believe, of the famous anti-apartheid member of Parliament Helen Susman] to dinner at the Rand Club -- a downtown Johannesburg institution that is exactly what it sounds like. I rented a tux [no kidding] and went along. There were perhaps eight of us at dinner, all men of course, including business leaders and the editor of one of the most important newspapers in South Africa. The apartheid government had just carried out a series of bombing raids in Mozambique targeting the military wing of the ANC, and the editor was sharing some information not widely known about the raids with those of us around the table. We were served at the dinner by a number of silent, efficient, tactful Black men. I recall wondering, "Which of these waiters will be reporting everything that is being said to a local ANC representative just as soon as the dinner ends?" Even Jonathan Susman, who counted as one of the "liberal" Whites in the South Africa of the time, seemed utterly oblivious to what was really going on.
Jerry also asks whether it could have been possible for the Gospels to have been written in Greek if they were written by common people. The following very interesting discussion courtesy of Google suggests that the answer is yes. Greek was apparently not, at that time, a language solely or even primarily of upper classes. But this is a matter about which I know virtually nothing, so you cannot rely on what I say!
Magpie calls our attention to a very important strain of revolutionary thinking that drew both on the Bible and on the writings of Marx, especially, but by no means exclusively, in Latin America. The ways of the Lord are strange indeed.