"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 10, Number 11, November 2007

 

“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.

For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;

Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.

I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.

I will show partiality to no one.  Nor will I flatter any man.”

Job 32:17-21

 

“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”

Earl of Kent

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34

 

[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek.  Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God.  The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.

 

AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com.  You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address.  Back issues sent on request.  All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org]

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A Pressing Appeal

 

Though it most assuredly will never be noted in the secular news media, and in fact gets scant mention even in the conservative religious press, our missionaries are broadly speaking in considerable financial distress.  Most of them are too modest to boldly declare the facts of the situation, so I will speak on their behalf, and for their benefit.

 

We have all noticed in recent weeks and months the sky-rocketing price of crude oil--$60, $70, $80, and now over $90 per barrel.  This steep increase is largely due to the collapse of dollar relative to the value of other currencies.  The Euro-dollar, when it came out half a dozen years ago or so, was valued 1:1 with the American dollar.  In short order, the Euro dropped in value to around 87 cents, but since then has risen steadily, and greatly, so that now it takes over $1.40 to buy one Euro.  The British pound sterling which not so many years ago was worth little more than $1.50 is now over $2.00.  Even the Canadian dollar which was a weak sister to the American dollar just two or three years ago--worth only 75-80 cents--is now on a par with the American dollar for the first time in decades.  This pronounced weakness of the American dollar is caused in large part by the huge trade deficits we have with foreign nations, particular China and the oil-exporting countries.  The supply of dollars exceeds the demand, and the value drops.  This makes American exports more competitive, but those who live or die by the exchange rate are getting pummeled.

 

Briefly stated, just about everywhere that people must regularly exchange American currency for local currency (particularly missionaries living abroad), their American dollars are buying less and less of the local monetary unit, and as a result, more dollars are required by them to buy the same amount of gasoline, electricity, water, rent, and every other expense.  It is, in effect, a continuous pay cut, over which they have no control, but which week by week, month by month, squeezes them tighter and tighter, and hinders the ministry to which they are called.  In the past 3 to 4 years, the average missionary has lost 25-40% of the purchasing power of his income due to the weakness of the dollar.  There is very little the missionary can do to address the matter--he cannot work more hours on the field, or get a second job (in most cases, he is prohibited from working for pay at all); he cannot realistically reduce expenses to match his dramatically lower relative income.  All he can do is look to God and his supporters--churches and individuals--in the States.  Yet most American Christians and most churches seem completely unaware of or indifferent to the financial distress the missionary is currently, right now, enduring.

 

To just stay even, the average missionary would need to increase the number of supporting churches and individuals by 25% or more immediately.  The truth be told, however, missionaries very rarely pick up new supporters after they get to the field.  Rather, it is just they opposite.  A slow hemorrhage of the support base sets in as now one, now another church or individual drops their support (usually without even notifying the missionary!  Such ethics!), and the missionary dies the slow financial death of a thousand paper cuts.

 

The solution to the problem is for churches and individuals to significantly and immediately increase their level of support.  I believe that American fundamentalist Christians are a generous people if properly informed of the need.  The ball could be set rolling by church leaders becoming informed of the situation themselves.  Write to each missionary, ask him about how he has been specifically affected by the weak dollar.  Then pass that information on to the people of the church.  Make a special Christmas appeal to give gifts to the missionaries in distress.  A goal of the equivalent double or triple average monthly support for each missionary is both realistic and reachable, and perhaps I aim too low.  But whatever is given, give it all to the missionaries.  Have we ever given sacrificially, that is, have we given to the degree that it caused us to “do without” even temporarily?  With reddened faces and heads hanging low in shame, we must honestly admit that no, though we expect the missionary to sacrifice, we wouldn’t think of doing so ourselves.

 

But even if we succeed well in this special offering enterprise, it is admittedly only a temporary fix to a longer term problem.  The missionaries need a permanent raise of regular support levels.  I suspect that in most churches, the pastor, the staff, even the janitor gets periodic raises to compensate for inflation, at the very least.  But rare indeed is the missionary who gets notice from a supporting church that they are increasing his monthly support by 5%, 10%, 20%.  Probably not one supporting church in ten ever gives the missionary a raise while he’s on the field.  And, incredible as it may seem, many are the cases where a missionary was started out at $25 per month 15 or 20 years ago by a church--and that is where his support level sits today!!!  Brethren, these things ought not to be.

 

The weak dollar seriously threatens the effectiveness and continuance of the American mission enterprise worldwide.  Our indifference only aggravates the matter, discourages the workmen, and makes us accountable to God for our inaction.  Let us inform ourselves, and others, and pray and give.  And soon.

---Doug Kutilek

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And My Students Think I’m a Demanding Hebrew Teacher!

 

“Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander [1809-1860; professor at Princeton Seminary] . . . was by no means a patient teacher of the elements of Hebrew.  He learned languages himself with marvelous facility, and could not sympathize with, or patiently endure, the slow mental movements of the ordinary student.  One day, when some fellow had made a very bad [mess?] out of his Hiphil forms of the verb, the professor threw down his Hebrew grammar on the table, and angrily said, ‘Gentlemen, I can’t spend any more time on these elementary matters. Learn them for yourselves.  I shall begin lecturing on Genesis tomorrow.’ . . . It is somewhat frequently the case that a great linguistic or mathematical genius proves ill-suited to elementary instruction in the subjects he masters with such facility; and a teacher, in whatever department or grade, must constantly strive to maintain intellectual sympathy with his pupils.”

John A. Broadus,

Memoirs of J. P. Boyce, p. 70.

(New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1893)

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Wisdom from the Nineteenth Century

 

“Dr. H. A Tupper [1828-1902; brother-in-law of J. P. Boyce] would have made an uncommonly accurate and enthusiastic instructor in Hebrew and other Biblical studies.  He mentioned in New York to the famous Dr. T. J. Conant  [1802-1891], who had been his teacher at Hamilton, that he had been asked to consider a Hebrew professorship, and had declined, because [he was] no Hebraist.  Dr. Conant gave a noteworthy reply: ‘You made a mistake.  No professor knows much of his chair when he first takes it.’  Doubtless every professor feels thus, whether he begins teaching in youth or in later years.  We may add a companion saying of Dr. Gessner Harrison [b. 1807; John Broadus’ first father-in-law] of the University of Virginia: ‘A man ought to stop teaching a subject when he stops learning it.’ “

John A. Broadus,

Memoirs of J. P. Boyce, p. 107

 

“Our ignorance of the future is often, under the leadings of God’s providence, a necessary condition of our worthiest undertakings and largest success.”

Ibid., p. 150

 

“Rev. Thomas Curtis, D. D., a member of the convention, and Principal of the Limestone (S.C.) Female institute, was an Englishman, a man of commanding appearance and abilities.  He said, with sonorous English tones and rolling r’s, ‘The requisites for an institution of learning are three b’s--bricks, books, brains.  Our brethren usually begin at the wrong end of the three b’s; they spend all their money for bricks, have nothing to buy books, and must take such brains as they can pick up.  But our brethren ought to begin at the other end of the b’s.’”

 Ibid., p. 153

 

“No man is fit to be a theological professor who would not really prefer to be a pastor.”

Ibid., p. 245

 

“The main thing in any educational establishment, and especially in what are called professional schools, is always the teaching.  Sooner or later, good teaching is recognized, and bad teaching is detected.”

Ibid., p. 258

 

“If the Darwinian theory of the origin of man has been accepted, then it becomes easy to conclude that the first chapter of Genesis is by no means true history.”

Ibid., p. 260

 

“All the advice I can give you is to go by the New Testament always, Baptist usage to the contrary notwithstanding.”

Quoting a letter by J. P. Boyce

Ibid., p. 303

 

“The class-room presents great advantages; but through life a man must be his own teacher, his own pupil, his own fellow-student, and bring all the energies of his being to bear upon the persistent effort to fill each of these positions worthily.”

Ibid.,, p. 311

 

“A strong character is not the gift of accident, nor is it the work of a day.  It is not only the condition precedent to greatness of achievement, it is itself achievement, and at the same time the accompanying and ever developing power to achieve.  The fundamental elements of strong character are a clear mind, a pure heart, and a powerful will.”

Quoting Dr. E. C. Dargan

Ibid.,, p. 369

 

“While our great leaders are alive, we cannot do without them.  We could not have done without Boyce.  But when they die, we can do without them.  God never takes them away until their work is done. . . . When we need another Boyce, God will give him to us.  Now the cause needs us; and whether we be great of small, it cannot do without us.  Therefore, let us renew our zeal and consecration.”

Quoting H. H. Tucker

Ibid.,, p. 371

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James 3:1-4, AV: a Study in Translation Obscurity

 

I recently was ear-and eye-witness to an exposition of James 3:1-4.  The message was well prepared and well-presented.  With it, I take no issue; indeed, I am grateful to have heard it and benefited by it.  However, at the beginning of the message, as the Bible text was read in English, I was struck with how absolutely obscure and puzzling the archaic language of the King James Version--for that was the version used--was and must appear to the modern English speaker and particularly anyone not thoroughly versed and long exposed to antique, Shakespearean-era English.  In short, the contemporary American Christian, and the great body of the unchurched and unreached masses will draw small benefit from such a text as this in this translation.  It is viewing “through a glass darkly” (to quote another KJV obscurity).

 

I am a devoted student of language--a “linguistic,” if you will--, particularly of English.  I am a writer as well as a frequent public speaker as both teacher and preacher.  I succeed or fail by whether I can effectively communicate my thoughts to those who read and hear what I say.  Regularly deliberately seeking to find the best word, the best phrase, the best sentence to communicate my own ideas, I tend to consciously or unconsciously evaluate everything else I read or hear as to its own success or failure in attaining effective communication.  On the score of achieving clear and accurate transference of information from the original Greek to the English reader, I would grade James 3:1-4, KJV, as follows: v. 1 an “F,” v. 2 a “C-“ at best, v. 3 a “B” and v. 4 a low “D.”

 

That text reads:

 

1. My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.  For in many things we offend all.  2. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.  3. Behold, we put bits into the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body.  4. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

 

This text, not untypical of the KJV as a whole, is plagued with quaint-sounding obscurities that utterly fail to express the meaning of the original Greek in a fashion that is likely to be understood by the present-day reader.  What may have been clear in 1611 has become afflicted with obscurities that simply must puzzle the modern average reader, leaving him at best uninstructed and at worst misled, and more than likely discouraged from trying to read the Bible for himself.

 

Coming to specifics--

 

In v. 1, “brethren” though “current” in usage in Christian jargon is of course archaic, with the modern equivalent being “brothers.”  And though in some Biblical contexts it is used generically, referencing both male and female fellow-believers (“siblings” or “brothers and sisters”), in this particular place, it seems to be male-specific, as the rest of the text apparently requires (see below).

 

“Be” here seems to indicate an existing state, while the idea is rather “become,” the entrance into a state or condition. 

 

“Masters” in modern English means a variety of things: one highly accomplished in a skill or craft; a boss or supervisor of some activity (as in “master of ceremonies”); and owner (whether of an animal or a person).  What “master” does not call to mind is its archaic meaning of “teacher,” even though “teachers” is precisely what the Greek here does mean.  “Master” is from the Latin magister, which has as one of its primary meanings “teacher,” (the only current parallel use to this that comes to my mind is that of “head-master,” an uncommon synonym for the principal or administrator of a school).

 

“Condemnation” here implies only a negative outcome.  The Greek word, rather, indicates evaluation, scrutiny, examination (with the outcome for good or ill to be determined by this examination.  Notably, the KJV margin offers the alternate rendering “Or, judgement.”

 

In v. 2, the Greek word represented by “offend,” (the English being based on the Latin word in the Vulgate at this place), carries more the idea of “stumble” or “falter” or “fail,” and inadvertence rather than a deliberate or willful act, as “offend” may suggest.  Even with the best of intentions, we mess up.

 

 “All” in the phrase “in many things, we offend all,” seems to be the object of the verb, that is, “we offend everybody.”  However, in Greek, “all” is in the nominative (subject) case, and therefore part of the subject, that is “we all stumble.”  Very few, if any modern readers of the KJV would rightly discern the use of “all” here.

 

“Man. . . man” would suggest to the reader the repetition of some Greek word; however, the first “man” is an indefinite pronoun (tis, masculine singular nominative) meaning “anyone, someone.”  The second “man” is aner, the word commonly used in Greek for male-specific persons, particular a full grown male of the human species.  It cannot be said with absoluteness that James intended a male-specific reference (since the word in question is occasionally used in a more general way to refer to adults, both male and female), but if he did so, this would certainly harmonize with Paul’s teaching concerning men--males--being the teachers in the churches (I Corinthians 14:34-5; I Timothy 2:11-2; 3:1-2).

 

“Perfect,” a frequently appearing word in the KJV, has been misunderstood and regularly seized upon by those who teach sinless perfectionism in support of their doctrine.  Of course, the Greek word here, and elsewhere, does not mean sinlessly perfect or faultless, but mature, complete, full-grown.  The misguided charismatics might be drawn back from this folly by simply substituting the non-misleading word “mature” (just as eliminating the italicized--and admittedly KJV translator-supplied--“unknown” in the often-repeated phrase, ”unknown tongue” in 1 Corinthians 14 might help rescue them from the “tongues” error).

 

Verse 3, as with v. 4, begins with “behold” (idou in Greek).  “Behold” is absolutely archaic, and is completely unused in contemporary written and spoken English (I faulted the recent English Standard Version in my review of it for not updating this English word; see As I See It 6:6, June 2003).  A variety of contemporary English equivalents exist, depending on context: “Look”; “Consider”; “Note”; or even “Take for example” or “Think about.”

 

In v. 4, “great” suggests several notions--“wonderful” or “terrific”; “impressive”; and “large” or “big”; only the last idea is present in the Greek.  To avoid possible misconstruing of the sense, “big” or “large” is the preferred modern term.

 

“Of” was put for the Greek preposition hupo, which is used to express direct agency, for which we today employ “by.”  “Driven by fierce winds.”

 

“Helm” as currently used (as throughout the word’s history) has meant the on-board apparatus for steering a boat--the “wheel” or the “tiller” (the handle attached to the rudder on smaller craft), or more generally, the region of the boat at which the steering took place.  However, the Greek pedalion, occurring but twice in the NT, means a rudder, that part that actually rests in the water and directs the flow of water this way and that off the stern (rear) of the boat to control direction.  It seems that the KJV was imprecise and incorrect from the start with its word “helm” (the 1557 Geneva NT has “rudder”); “helm” certainly does not express the meaning of the Greek in today’s usage.  “Rudder” does, and therefore should be used instead.

 

“Governor” (taken from the vocabulary of the Latin Vulgate here) today invokes first of all in my mind notions of the chief executive officer of the state’s government, then of a mechanical apparatus that controls engine speed on lawnmowers and other powered machinery.  It can even suggest the British use as a term of address of one gentleman to another, “Guvnuh.”  But it never brings to mind the man steering a boat--the helmsman or pilot (the Greek word here, euthunon, is a participle used as a noun, literally meaning “he who directs” or “makes straight.”)  The English “governor,” (ultimately derived from the Greek word kubernetes--not the Greek word here used, though found in Acts 27:11 and Revelation 18:17), did, like its Greek ancestor, originally mean “pilot” or “steersman” but the Oxford English Dictionary a century ago labeled that usage “obsolete.”  If obsolete then, it is yet more so today.

 

And finally “listeth.”  With reference to boats, the verb “list” today means to tip or lean to one side due to improper loading or taking on of water--“she’s listing badly to port, sir”).  Not in a hundred years of searching modern books, newspapers and magazines is anyone likely to come across the wholly obsolete use of “list” found here.  The Greek is plain enough--“to wish, want, desire.”  So the translation ought to read--and many readily available translations do so read it.

 

 (Interestingly enough, some of the obscurities of the KJV in this passage are directly derived from its dependence on the Roman Catholic Rheims NT of 1582, which was translated from the Latin Vulgate, rather than the Greek text.  This dependence on the Rheims version--and no other printed English version--includes “many masters,” and “offend all.”   Other examples of dependence on the Rheims in this passage are also evident, though not involving the obscurities and inaccuracies here discussed.)

 

In contrast to the murky slough of words that the KJV presents at James 3:1-4, consider (“behold”) the Holman Christian Standard Bible’s translation (for our purposes here, we could have just as easily referenced the NIV, NASB, or ESV as great improvements over the KJV, though each of these fails fully to correct all the faults pointed out here)--

 

1 Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment; 2 for we all stumble in many ways.  If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control the whole body.  3 Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses, to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal.  4 And consider ships: though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

 

(Incidentally, I do not doubt that one of the things for which Bible teachers will receive the closer scrutiny is on whether they willing and wholly unnecessarily imposed on their hearers a traditional but communication-wise often very ineffective translation such as the KJV has become.)

 

For the person who wants the most direct access to the precise teaching and content of the original Greek and Hebrew texts obtainable through the medium of an English Bible translation, the King James Version is beyond question the poorest choice among readily available translations produced by theological conservatives.  This is first of all due to its rampant and growing obscurity, as the vocabulary and syntax of English, a living language, departs further and further from what it was four centuries ago.  The passage from James noted here is just one of literally hundreds that could have been seized upon to illustrate this point.  Second, judged by the standard of the original text--yes, and even by the standard of the textus receptus Greek,--the KJV is simply inaccurate in a thousand ways.  Often, but not always, these are minor matters, but that they are inaccuracies and imprecisions cannot be honestly denied. 

 

The greatest general defect in the KJV is a repeated failure to adequately and accurately express the force of the Greek definite article in English.  The next most common failure is the failure to adequately express the meaning and force of Greek verbs in English.  Then comes inaccuracy in giving the precise meaning of specific words, and then the use as a base text, in the New Testament especially, one which frequently has readings which cannot be defended as the precise original form of the NT as written by the apostles.  True enough, none of these textual variants affects the theological content of the NT, but nevertheless, if the evidence is compelling, for example, that the Greek originally said “tree of life” in Revelation 22:19 and not “book of life” as the KJV and textus receptus have it (and ALL extant Greek manuscripts read “tree of life”), then what possible reason can justify continuing to follow a reading which we KNOW with certainty is not what the Apostle wrote?  And there are many hundreds of such places in the KJV NT, to say nothing of the KJV OT in comparison with the Hebrew text.

 

While the King James Version served its own day and generation (and also later ones) well, the fact of the matter is that its day has passed.  Not “is passing” but has passed.  It is often obscure already and becomes increasingly so as time passes, and is too often inaccurate--mostly in details, but sometimes in matters of larger moment,--and to continue employing it for personal study or pulpit reading is to voluntarily deny oneself, and those taught from it, a clearer, more accurate and fuller comprehension of God’s revelation.  The more I have learned of Greek and Hebrew and linguistics, the less satisfactory the KJV has appeared to be.  Because numerous other English versions have much more faithfully and intelligibly rendered the original texts into English, I have long since adopted other English translations of the Bible and have not used the KJV for regular personal study in more than thirty years.  Indeed, I consult it only when answering questions as to why the KJV says one thing and other versions say another.  I do not preach or teach from it, ever, unless expressly required by a church’s policy or a pastor’s direct request.  I’d rather give a sight translation from my Romanian Bible, as I have occasionally done.

 

If we had no other English version but the KJV, yes, we could make do.  But we do have and have had better English versions for 125 years and more, and some translations produced in recent years are far better than those of a century ago.  I could not go back to the KJV under any probable circumstances (short of being marooned on an island or placed in solitary confinement with no other Bible).  I’d frankly rather have the Reina-Valera Spanish of 1960 (or the LBLA, the Spanish equivalent of the NASB), or one of several Romanian Bibles, and no English Bible at all, if compelled to choose one or the other.

 

I cringe and shake my head when I receive, as I did this week, a request for money to provide copies of the KJV for children in central Africa.  I am sure of this--if native American speakers of English (including children in AWANA struggling to memorize the archaic KJV wording) very often cannot understand the KJV, how much more obscure and unintelligible it is and must be to those who are learning English as a second language!  We Americans can be so “undiscerning” (not the word I wanted to use) at times.  I have had experience in this very thing in Romania--English-speaking Romanians who were given KJVs by well-meaning but misguided Americans.  Their uniform reaction: “I can’t understand this.  It is very difficult.”  But when I supplied them with copies of the Bible in contemporary English--the NIV--they responded, “Hey, this makes sense!”  Some years ago, I received a report regarding American Christians--independent Baptists, no surprise--sending 10,000 KJVs to Kenya or somewhere thereabouts for use by the national Christians.  What a colossal waste of money and effort.  The nationals there would have been far better served had they been given NIVs or the New Living Translation--or even the Living Bible (or, what would be far better, a translation of the Bible in their own language; spend your time and effort providing that).

 

Translations are a means to an end, not the end in itself.  The KJV deserves to be honored (not “idolized”) for its historic importance, as we honor the earlier English versions of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Coverdale, the Geneva version, and others, but like them, it is time to consign it to the shelf next to these in the reference section, while we at last turn with inexplicable and unjustifiable hesitation to the regular use of one of the numerous English versions that are more accurate, clearer, and much more comprehensible.  Why have we waited so long?  What can possibly be gained by hesitating longer?

---Doug Kutilek

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BOOK REVIEW

 

City of Heroes: the Great Charleston Earthquake of 1886 by Richard N. Cote.  Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Corinthian Books, 2006.  542 pp., paperback.

 

The attentive visitor to Charleston, South Carolina will soon hear mention of--especially if he takes one of the horse-drawn carriage tours of the city--the 1886 earthquake that struck the city and the surrounding low country region of South Carolina.  He will notice--or have pointed out to him--the many old buildings which sport “earthquake bolts” used to repair and restore the structures after the quake.  I myself first became consciously aware of this famous earthquake only after visiting the city for the first time in 1997 (I have been back often, though not as often as I would like).  What is particularly notable about the 1886 quake was the fact that it was wholly unexpected.  Charleston had endured numerous calamities in its previous 200-year history: hurricanes?  Sure.  Several major fires?  Naturally.  And of course, wars.  But never a destructive earthquake. 

 

Indeed, it was widely believed that the Carolina coast, and in fact, the whole of the American Atlantic coast, was geologically rather stable and earthquake free.  In three hundred years of English/ American settlement and occupation of the Atlantic coast region, no such devastating earthquake had occurred.  Yes, a series of three terrific earthquakes had struck the boot heel region of Missouri in December 1811-February 1812 (see The New Madrid Earthquakes by James L. Penick, Jr., reviewed in As I See It, 7:5), and they had been slightly felt in Charleston, but they occurred half a continent away and even a recurrence there would prove no threat here.  (Subsequent research has demonstrated that the Charleston region has suffered earthquakes comparable to that of 1886 on at least 8 previous occasions, at intervals of about 500 years).

 

At precisely 9:51:15 p.m. on August 31, 1886 an earthquake that would have measured an estimated 7.3 on the Richter scale occurred at a point about 18 miles north of Charleston, close to the town of Summerville, and some 8 to 12 miles beneath the surface of the earth.  A second shock hit about 30 seconds later, with very numerous aftershocks and associated tremors, some violent, recurring over the next hours and days and weeks and months and years (they still occur to the present).  The brick structures of Charleston (to say nothing of other nearby towns)--businesses, houses, government buildings, churches--were hardest hit.  Nearly every brick chimney in Charleston was toppled, as were numerous brick walls and building facings.  Wooden structures fared much better, though they too were often twisted and wracked by the horizontal and vertical jars and jolts and undulations of the shifting “terra firma” underneath.  Those killed and injured by the quake (more than a hundred of the former, and hundreds of the latter) and its aftermath were harmed more by falling brick and plaster than from all other causes combined.

 

With no FEMA to encumber the survivors with help, and receiving no financial assistance (or interference) from either the federal or state government, but aided by the outpouring of generosity by private citizens throughout the country and even from abroad (over $1 million was given--equal to more than $20 million today), Charlestonians immediately took the initiative to help themselves: to treat the injured, feed and shelter the displaced, restore public services and commerce, and repair and rebuild their shattered city (as they had just finished doing, following a devastating hurricane the previous year).  They did not assume the posture of dependent helplessness and blame-shifting which characterized the residents and both city and state officials of New Orleans following the hurricane of 2005.

 

In less than a week, a well-organized and efficient system of food and temporary shelter was completely in place and sufficient to meet the pressing requirements of those most in need.  Public services--water, gas, trolleys and roads--were restored in short order, commerce was re-established, and the city began to rebuild, a task largely completed by the following summer.

 

Cote has mined contemporary accounts (newspapers and magazines, letters, journals, government records, etc.) and subsequent studies to produce as full and informative a narrative as the reader is likely to need.  Period photographs, engravings and maps abound.  Endnotes, extensive bibliography and a thorough index complete the book.

---Doug Kutilek

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