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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Spell checking the Bible

Posted on May 27, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Last night I made it to the halfway point in my quest to read through the Bible cover to cover this year, putting me at Psalm 84 and at page 765.


One thing you *really* pick up on reading the Old Testament is that death and tragedy were never very far away. Never was the phrase "here today, your entire people gone tomorrow" truer. If you think thatwe have global overcrowding issues today, then thank the Old Testament for the ma-hillions that aren’t around due to smiting, cutting off, pestilence, pillars of fire from the sky, famine and generally the constant back and forth of epic battles between the Israelites and virtually everyone else. To say that the Jews were God’s people because clearly NO ONE else liked them might not be much of an overstatement.


But no one seemed to hate the Jews with the same white hot, special hatred sauce cooked up and then reduced down over hours of careful simmering by the Philistines. It seems like things will be rolling along fine and then some new king  (Jew or Philistine, it really just depended on how the winds of anger were blowing those gritty gets-in-your-shorts sands of rage) would come in to power and decide it was ass whoopin’ time. He’d roust up his army (usually a few hundred thou or so), armor up, jump into the war chariot and then head off for some smiting. Seriously, if Israel vs Philistine battles were made into movies, they would be legendary 4-hour, 10-parters that would continually see-saw back and forth over centuries with hundreds of thousands wiped out on each side.


But it hasn’t been all death and battles. There have been lots – and LOTS – of scriptures written in poetic verse that I’ll not lie (hey,we’re talking about the Bible!) and say I’ve fully distilled every bit of. So last night I came across a scripture that jumped out at me amidst the many songs of Psalms. What the…?! Is that a...typo? A TYPO?!  In the Bible! Sure, this may seem like a petty thing (Hi. We haven’t met. My name’s John.) but it was pretty stunning to find one.  Here’s the scripture:


(Psalm 78:59) God heard and got to be furious, And so he contemned Israel very much.

“Contemned”? Is that a rogue “t” that should be a “d”? Had Israel made God SO angry that merely condemning them (again) wasn't enough? He had to kick it up to a whole new, I'm-so-angry-there's-not-even-a-word-that-exists-to-tell-you-how-angry-I-am!


I shouted out to Dana in the other room (no doubt disturbing a mad couponing session that was going to save me just enough money to offset the gallons of printer ink and paper used to print said coupons). “HEY! I THINK I FOUND A TYPO! IN THE BIBLE! GOOGLE CONTEMNED. LIKE CONDEMNED BUT SPELLED WITH A T INSTEAD OF D!”


So she does, and turns out that there’s just no tripping up the Holy Scriptures. It is a word. (And even MS Word is smarter than me, not even bringing out paperclip guy or highlighting it as a possible misspell. Damn you Microsoft! Damn you to the Bill Gates of Hell!)  So, here’s your word of the day, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:


Main Entry: con·temn

Pronunciation: \kən-‘tem\

Function: transitive verb

Etymology: Middle English contempnen, from Middle French contempner, from Latin contemnere, from com-+ temnere to despise

Date: 15th century

: to view or treat with contempt : scorn

synonyms: see despise

— con·tem·ner also con·tem·nor\-‘tem-nər, -‘te-mər\ noun

So, thanks, Bible! Now I know that I didn't hate the ending of Lost....I merely contemned it.

Categories: May 2010, Books

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1 Comment

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3:59 PM on May 28, 2010 
Your dad is checking the Bible ane the Dictonary as I am writing this. It's in there both books. But good reading and paying attention to what you read and not just skipping over words.