Friday, April 29, 2016

What do Fight Club and the Gospel of Jesus Christ have in common?

Fight Club - brutal but surprisingly Biblical

New words are invented every day, because when people think of new things to say, they need new words to do so. That conversely means that certain ideas that have been around since time immemorial are known by words that are very old. And we know when words are very old when they are used over vast language areas. The general rule is: the older, the wider its spread, and the wider its spread, the older it is.

Take the word "you" for instance. People have addressed other people for a while now, so the earliest word for "you" has remnants in all Eurasian languages. It obviously exists in the north European languages since English is one of those (together with German, Dutch and a few others), but also in the Latin rooted south (the French tu), and the Slavic east (the Serbian ti). It even occurs in Vedic Sanskrit (as yuyam), which demonstrates it's really fantastically old.

Slightly less intuitively is the prevalence of the word "soap".

We've been told that our ancestors were unrelenting barbarians until roughly the invention of the DVD, and shouldn't be expected to have ever washed, let alone have a word for such a commodity as refined as soap. Turns out that tradition is wrong, and the ancients talked about soap pretty much as long as they talked about someone in his face.

To quote our exhilarating article on the mysterious Hebrew word 'ezob:

"Our English word "soap" probably comes from an old Germanic stem, with a root so old that it also existed in Latin (as sebum) and lives on today in most European languages (Basque: xaboi; Bosnian: sabo; Danish: saebe; Dutch: zeep; German: Seife; Estonian: seep; Spanish: jabon; French: savon; Finnish: saippua; Icelandic: sapa; Kurdish: sabun).  
Its prevalence across such a wide language base makes linguists suspect that our word existed in pre-Indo-European (probably sounding like seib), and that would make it not only contemporary with our word 'ezob; it may very well be its cognate, and thus that of the Greek noun hussopos (hyssop).

The link between soap and hyssop (a plant) lies probably in the fabrication of the earliest sponge or shrub, namely from a bundle of fine twigs or a grass-like wad.

It turns out that the ancients were obsessed with cleanliness. Texts from the very dawn of recorded history speak of soap and the importance of keeping things clean. This was obviously long before the advent of proper germ theory (of which the first proposals were made in the 16th century, but proof came only a century later) and the observable effects of cleanliness were deemed miraculous.

Dirtiness of body and dirtiness of conscience became expressed in similar imagery, which led to the familiar but controversial "washing away" of moral sins with physical water and soap (Psalm 51:7). Still, the amazing properties of soap were rightly so tied to the divine. Soap demonstrably warded off disease, stench and even death; it purified and strengthened, just like the very Word of God.

And the best part was that it came natural, as element of creation. Natural soap can be found around the organs of mammals, where it is often produced as the result of some bodily injury (hence Tyler Durden's interest in producing soap, get it?).

In the translated Bible there is an additional theme of washing items such as pots and pan and even white garments in blood (Numbers 19, Revelation 7:14), which is obviously rather curious. But since blood, like soap, is a natural bodily fluid, the solution to this conundrum comes when we allow the word for blood (dam) to cover all fluids, including soap.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 

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