Sunday, April 28, 2013

Doug Lewis - may he Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory

Doug in Sept 2012
My beloved uncle Doug died this month. Born in Hampton he lived there all his life (apart from a year spent travelling with his wife in the 1950s). His father left the family when Doug was young so he was something of a surrogate father to his younger siblings: my mother and her sister and younger brother.

He worked in a precision engineering factory, rising to be works manager and then a consultant, married his charming wife Pat when they were quite young and they had two sons now a successful businessman and a successful GP.

Doug was enormously kind, and enthusiastic about the achievements of others with whom he had a connection - whether it was family or though his Hampton connections. Julian Bream had been a friend in his youth, and indeed had played the guitar at Doug's 21st. Any success by a Hampton person or a family member was a cause for celebration.  He worshipped regularly at St Mary's Hampton which is (unless I'm much mistaken) where he was christened and married, and on Thursday it was his funeral to a packed Church.

When he found he had terminal cancer his first concern was for his wife. He made sure accounts were transferred to her sole name, that she could use internet banking etc.  He declined aggressive treatment and died at home in his sleep, having said farewell that day to his wife, sons and sister (his other sister had died aged 19) and his brother who lives in the Hebrides had visited recently.

We saw him a couple of weeks before he died and he asked that I play a piece at his funeral with my brother and sister who are both talented violinists. I told him it should be the slow movement of the Bach Double Violin Concerto and sent him the Podger/Manze recording. So that is what we did on Thursday, playing it somewhat faster than usual and with a note of triumph in the final reprise of the theme.  He has run the good race, he has fought the fight, the crown of victory is his!

Very appropriately the bible reading at the funeral was 1Cor 13:
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...
The second para is an excellent description of Doug.

May he Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!

Textual note:
I must confess I hadn't come across "so that I may boast" before! The "normal" reading "to be burned" is based on the Greek καυθήσομαι (that I may be burned) and the textual variant is καυχήσωμαι  (that I may boast) - a v few Byzantine MS have  καυθήσωμαι but that's clearly wrong. The NIV has "give over my body to hardship that I may boast" showing once again that it is a Targum rather than a translation because to hardship appears nowhere and is simply a gloss to make sense of this rather odd Greek.  Tom Wright has "if I give all my possessions to the poor and, for pride's sake, my very body."

There is little doubt that the better MSS have "that I may boast" and it's also such an odd reading that it is much easier to see how, especially in an age when Christians were being burned at the stake, later scribes might have un-intentionally "corrected" it to  "to be burned". "Boast" is a favourite word of Paul's and of the nearly 60 times it occurs 52-23 (depending on this one) are in plainly authentic Pauline epistles. To quote EDNT:
"the motif of trust is inherent in Paul's use of the term "boast." In boasting the individual declares what he relies on and which is his support in life...the Christian rejects any kind of boasting by which one is supported by the flesh, outward existence, other people or himself."
So what Paul seems to me to be saying is "even if I give away all my possessions, and even hand over my body, so that I may boast that I have done so much for the Lord, and seek to put my trust in that but have not love, it's no advantage to me at all.

Of course "body, to be burned" is infinitely more poetic and resonant. Maybe for a readable translation we should say:
If I give away all my possessions, if I can boast that I gave away my body, but do not love...

1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my bl;og