gospel, revelation and exodus

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Anya Smitty

Senior Member
Chinese
“Our opponents are engaged in a hopelessly uphill struggle, and they know it,” he chirruped, defiantly; “they’ve become possessed, like the Gadarene swine, with a whole legion of—”
“Surely the Gadarene swine went downhill,” put in Lady Caroline in a gently enquiring voice.
Henry Greech hastily abandoned simile and fell back on platitude and the safer kinds of fact.
Francesca did not regard her brother’s views on statecraft either in the light of gospel or revelation; as Comus once remarked, they more usually suggested exodus.

Could anyone explain these three words?
Source: The Unbearable Bassington by Saki
 
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  • dadane

    Senior Member
    English-London
    As nobody else seems to be replying. They are parts (i.e. books or a group of books) from the Bible. I can't really elaborate any further, this is not one of my strong subjects. :)
     
    Francesca did not regard her brother’s views on statecraft either in the light of gospel or revelation; as Comus once remarked, they more usually suggested exodus.

    The writer is being playful. He is saying the brother's views (as seen by the woman Francesca) are not very informed or sophisticated, though he [brother] thinks so. The New Testament begins with the Gospels and ends with Revelation. So the writer is saying the brother's views, from A to Z, to so say, are not respected by the woman. Further they are not "Gospel", an expression meaning 'truth.' Revelation means some special source of knowledge, so the author say the person is NOT seen as gifted with a revelation (revelation of God's will, as a prophet has).

    Exodus, is the second book of the Bible and OT (second book of the Jewish Torah) and the word, and topic mean "leaving" or going out from, in the Bible case, Egypt. I'm not clear how, but somehow the brother's views (as seen by the woman) suggest Exodus, meaning 'leaving behind,' or escaping. Perhaps the idea of rout is involved, as the swine analogy suggests. The brother thinks of politics in terms of routs? Or perhaps, since Moses led the Exodus, that idea of leadership may be involved? It's hard to say.

    Perhaps the idea is to contrast the alleged truths of the NT with the historical events of the OT, in this case, the Israelites' escape from Egypt (and receiving the Ten Commandments, also, by the way).
    So the author (that is the woman), has the view that the fellow doesn't have truth, just a historical account of an escape.

    Note that, overall, Greech was seeking to liven up his speech with a dubious Biblical reference, so some of his audience and we readers are treated to a 'send up' of the fellow, using Biblical terms.

    Here is a kind of analogy. It's near the end of a trial, and the prosecutor had made what he considers to be fine summation to an ably argued case. He says to a reporter, "I'm tearing towards the finish line in
    my Formula One automobile." The reporter is not so sanguine, and replies, "In that case, your engine is belching black smoke and your left rear tire is blown."

    ---

    Note: This is a bit like trying to explain why a certain Seinfeld monologue is funny: There are a wealth of allusions, word plays, and so on, and the 'explanation' detracts from the humor, or causes it to vanish.
     
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    asanga

    Member
    Indonesian
    The particular reference to Exodus is a joking reference to Henry's wish to ship off Comus to an island in the West Indies as a private secretary to his friend Sir Julian Jull.

    At the same time, as bennymix has pointed out, "gospel and revelation" suggests both "the absolute truth" and the New Testament as a whole, while Exodus is the most famous book of the Old Testament. In the Christian self-image, the morality of the OT is contrasted negatively with the NT.

    Famous passage from Exodus chapter 21:

    23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
    24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
    25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

    Christians contrast this with the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of St. Matthew:

    39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.
    41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
    42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

    So Francesca thinks Henry's views aren't necessarily true (doesn't take them as Gospel), and considers them uncharitable (more Old Testament than New).
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Francesca did not regard her brother’s views on statecraft either in the light of gospel or revelation; as Comus once remarked, they more usually suggested exodus.
    Statecraft means 'politics'. This is a facetious comment about her opinion of her brother's opinions.
    There is no need to overdo the three biblical allusions.
    The terms 'gospel truth' and 'gospel' are common expressions meaning 'guaranteed truth'.
    'Revelation' here means the concept of a body of (alleged) divine revelation (news from God), rather than the book Revelation (one part of the Bible).
    '[His] views ... more usually suggested exodus' means that when he started talking, people usually thought 'It's time to go'.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, I agree with wandle in interpreting gospel, revelation and exodus loosely - an attempt to be clever.

    The Bible was already brought into the discussion through Henry's reference to the Gadarene swine. (The account is of it is from Luke 8:26-39 where a legion of demons possessed a herd of swine causing them to rush to the edge of a cliff and plummet down to the sea and drown.) Frances does not consider Henry's comments insightful (like the gospel) or revelatory, but is more likely to cause an exodus (as explained by wandle).
     
    Yes, to the suggestions of Nat and Wandle. Upon reflection, some simple decoding of the Exodus reference seems appropriate. I thought of the term 'tumultuous', as perhaps being relevant to the person's alleged views about statecraft.

    As Asanga pointed out, the main idea seems to trade on the common Christian assertion of the superiority of the NT, as far as truth goes. (The author is indicating, however, that Henry's statements *lacked* this truth. ) Hence Exodus is suggested as being primitive, backward, tumultuous, complicated history of a rout/escape. (Such a point, however, may be a bit tendentious, since the NT mentions the 10C, and these are in fact, first laid out in Exodus, the allegedly backward book.)
     
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    Anya Smitty

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yes! I think your interpretation is more convincing!
    Statecraft means 'politics'. This is a facetious comment about her opinion of her brother's opinions.
    There is no need to overdo the three biblical allusions.
    The terms 'gospel truth' and 'gospel' are common expressions meaning 'guaranteed truth'.
    'Revelation' here means the concept of a body of (alleged) divine revelation (news from God), rather than the book Revelation (one part of the Bible).
    '[His] views ... more usually suggested exodus' means that when he started talking, people usually thought 'It's time to go'.
     
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