Essay / Misc.

Font of Every Blessing

Jesus says in Luke 16:17, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

Other translations say, instead of “one dot,” things like “one stroke” or, as the KJV has it, “a tittle.”

The greek word used here for dot/stroke/tittle is keraia, literally a little horn. Most translations take this to be a mark that actually distinguishes one letter from another (the dot or line that turns what might be a lowercase “L” into a “t” or an “i”). These are tiny pen-strokes, but they carry meaning, and their absence could conceivably convert one word to a different word. A Q without a tail is an O, for instance.

But some commentators think that a little horn on a letter might be more ornamental than semantic. I. Howard Marshall, for instance, in his big Luke commentary, says that the “keraia” Jesus mentions here should probably be thought of as a minor decorative flourish used to make the writing attractive, but not signifying any difference of meaning. Perhaps it’s more like the foot of a T than the tail of a Q, and that, even that, is what Jesus is saying will not pass away.

A possible (but not very responsible) translation would be, “Not a serif of the law will pass away.”

Which raises the hypothetical and unedifying question, what font would God use? Surely not anything sans seraphim.

See where this is going? Put your own font jokes in here, it’s easy. I shall now go and compose an entire liturgy beginning with the stately place-holder Latin of “lorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci…”

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