Jesus Christ is Cheese

Jim Bowman objected to the posting "Jesus Christ was cheese".  John Heelan comments: Perhaps Jim Bowman could give WAIS the benefit of his scholarly knowledge of New Testament Greek to confirm the following note on the phrase in question, - which obviously has confused other failed rocket scientists-  quoted in a study of St. Augustine's Confessions? [Unfortunately the transliteration of the Greek seems garbled.  The apparent original source, Lxx (Septuagint) renders the phrase as meaning "condense as if from cheese"]

 As the Encyclopaedia Britannica (2004) describes the text of the Septuagint as "contained in a few early, but not necessarily reliable, manuscripts" does that imply, from Jim's comments above, it is not an authoritative source of Jesus' sayings?

Note 19 Literally, In monte incaseato, "the mountain of curds," from the Old Ver. of Ps. lxviii. 16. The Vulgate renders coagulatus. But the Authorized Version is nearer the true meaning, when it renders Myenmnbn, hunched, as "high."

The LXX. renders it teturwme/noj, condensed, as if from cheese. This divergence arises from the unused root bag, to be curved, having derivatives meaning (1) "hunch-backed," when applied to the body, and (2) "cheese" or "curds," when applied to milk. Augustin, in his exposition of this place, makes the "mountain" to be Christ, and parallels it with Isa. ii. 2; and the "milk" he interprets of the grace that comes from Him for Christ's little ones: Ipse est mons incaseatus, propter parvulos gratia tanquam lacte nutriendos.

You can find the study in []- Book IX
RH: We enter here the murky realm of ancient theological comparisons; the Virgin Mary is called an ivory tower.  The Septuagint is also a murky story. It means seventy, and thus is referred to as LXX. Seventy because seventy Jewish translators in seventy days in Alexandria translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek.  It was then used by Christians to become the Old Testament, which of course does not refer to Christ as cheese or anything else. WAIS id deeply interested in history, where the roots of our present condition lie, but I wonder if these abstruse questions of ancient theological metaphors throw much light on our major concerns.  The obsession with such trivia has done the Jewish and Christian religions much harm.

I asked: What does Christopher Jones mean  by "Christ was born through the ear"?? I thought it was a typo. He replies: There are many depictions in Renaissance paintings of the birth of Christ through the ear of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  However, I have detected a complete (and un-WAIS) ignorance or rejection of the mysticism surrounding Christ, perhaps in an effort to strip him of his divinity, But another thing is to strip cheese of its divinity.  In particular, the Belmonte-born Spanish Augustinian monk, Fray Luís de Leon (1527-1591) wrote a treatise on the subject in a book titled De los nombres de Cristo (1585) and concluded that Christ was really a "mountain of cheese." Because I like cheese, I decided to research this unusual aspect of the Christ's character and if there is a relation to any one cheese in particular (a camembert, for example).  In fact, Christ himself is quoted as saying "Montanus Coagulatus, montanus fermentatus," by Saint Augustine, ref: Book IX of Augustine's Confessions in which he quotes Psalms 67:22-23 where the quote appears literally as a "mountain of curds."  It was Fray Luís who interpreted this to mean cheese or a mountain of cheese.  So dear WAISers, you should cross yourself, when you eat cheese, you are in the presence of the Lord!

RH: The dates for Luis de León are correct, but St. Augustine/ Christopher Jones are wrong in the reference to  "Psalms 67" (?). Neither Psalm 6,7, nor 67 has 22 verses, and I can find no reference to cheese or curds in the Bible. I therefore conclude that this is a hoax, like the spurious biography concocted by Lorca and forwarded by John Heelan.  Since we are so pressed for time and space and have to cover so many important subjects, hoaxes are declared unWAIS.  If I have wrongly judged Christopher's message, he should answer the question about the Psalms and give us the the precise quite from St. Augustine.

Jim Bowman expresses the feelings of the Christians who took offense at "Jesus Christ was cheese" by Christopher Jones. I said it appeared to be a hoax and that WAIS could not waste time on hoaxes. Jim writes:  My B.A. is in Biblical Studies with additional studies in seminary, totalling five years of New Testament Greek studies.   While I did not study Latin, I do know Spanish, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know the Greek equivalent of "Montanus Coagulatus, montanus fermentatus" is nowhere to be found in the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament, which as far as I know is the only authoritative place Jesus' sayings are to be found.   Jesus quotes quite a few verses from the Psalms, but not Psalm 67 or any mysteriously lengthened version of it.
It strikes me that the phrase "is quoted as saying," is a classic ploy of journalists who wish to avoid responsibility for passing on unresearched information.  We are given the interpretation of Fray Luis who interprets a saying Augustine attributes to Jesus.   "Informed sources quote the President as saying.."   I don't think, Ronald, that you would have let any of us working on the HAR get away with that kind of "research."   
In my strict Christian home we were not allowed "to use the Lord's name in vain," and thus we were not permitted to exclaim "Jesus!" as a term of amazement or surprise.   So we said something that sounded like "Jeez!" or "Cheese!"  Maybe this is really the root of the idea. 
RH: The HAR to which Jim refers was the Hispanic American Report, the journal I founded and edited at Stanford's Bolivar House, where Jim studied.  Of course we would would not have published  the piece "Jesus Christ was cheese". WAIS is different from HAR.  It is an exchange of information and ideas among people with a serious interest international affairs. WAISdom is limited by courtesy.  We do not post insults about other WAISers.  We encourage serious, informed exchanges about religion, since a dialog about religion is something the world sorely needs. In discussions of this most serious issue, joking  simply blocks an open discussion.

Your comments are invited. Read the home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: November 20, 2004