The early Jewish Christian Gospel of the Ebionites said that John ate ἐγκρίς rather than ἀκρίς. The latter means “locust” and that’s what we have in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew (Luke omits this detail). The former? You’ll often hear it rendered into English as a “pancake” made with oil and honey. That definition seems to be heavily influenced by the fact that the word occurs in the LXX (Greek translation) of Exodus 16:31. The term actually appears to be essentially synonymous with λουκουμάδες, what Italians call struffoli, tiny balls of dough fried in oil. They are then soaked in honey. What the Greek word ἐγκρίς denoted, therefore, was not what any modern English-speakers think of when they hear the word pancake. Notice that it is common, indeed standard, for these to be soaked in honey. Thus eating these with honey would make perfect sense in a way that neither “locusts and honey” nor “pancakes and honey” would. That doesn’t mean that the Gospel of the Ebionites is right, though, historically speaking. Just as the harder reading is judged more likely to be original by textual critics, the same applies here. It is hard to imagine anyone starting with the natural-sounding struffoli and honey and mistakenly getting to locusts.
In other news, I have given Bard a try. I told it that I am writing two books about John the Baptist and asked what the most interesting facts about him are that I ought to include. This is how it responded:
John the Baptist was a fascinating figure. He was a prophet, a preacher, and a baptizer. He was also the forerunner of Jesus Christ.
Here are some of the most interesting things about John the Baptist:
- He was born in the wilderness.
- He lived a life of asceticism.
- He wore a camel-hair robe and ate locusts and wild honey.
- He baptized people in the Jordan River.
- He was imprisoned by Herod Antipas.
- He was beheaded at the request of Herodias.
- His death was a catalyst for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
John the Baptist was a man of great faith and courage. He was willing to speak out against injustice and to challenge the religious leaders of his day. He was also a man of great humility. He recognized that he was not the Messiah, but that he was simply preparing the way for the coming of Jesus.
John the Baptist is an important figure in the Christian faith. He is the one who baptized Jesus, and he is the one who proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah. He is also the one who prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.
If you are writing two books about John the Baptist, there are many interesting things that you could focus on. You could focus on his life, his ministry, his death, or his impact on the Christian faith. You could also focus on his relationship with Jesus, or his role in the Jewish tradition.
No matter what you choose to focus on, John the Baptist is a fascinating figure who is sure to generate interest from your readers.
Clearly one or two of these may have to be challenged, if John was in fact the master of ἐγκρίς – or if you prefer, struffoli, gulab jamun, pignolata, vermiculi, or טייגלעך. If we could prove he invented him, that would clinch my case that John’s influence continues to be felt all around the world…