The Jowett grafitto

From: Edward Hobbs (
Date: Wed Oct 30 1996 - 10:48:08 EST

From: LUCY::EHOBBS "Edward Hobbs" 30-OCT-1996 10:47:06.74
To: IN%""
Subj: RE: Pronouncing Liddell

   Next on the docket will be the
> mispronunciation of the old Oxford master, Benjamin Jowett (most famed for
> his [mis]translations of Plato). (Anyone know the grafitto about his name?)
> Edward Hobbs
> Wellesley

Jeffrey Gibson responded:

I believe the grafitto runs something like:

     My name is Benjamin Jowett.
     I'm master of Baliol College.
     I know everything that there is to know
     and what I don't know isn't knowledge.

Not NT Greek indeed. But Oxford lore and therefore (tangentally) related.


Delightful! The version I heard and learned had a different third line,
which was in fact emphasized as a major clue to how his name was pronounced
at Oxford. It went:

        My name is Benjamin Jowett;
        I'm master of Balliol College.
        If there's ought to know, I know it,
        And what I don't know isn't knowledge.

This was often quoted as a correction to Americans who insisted on calling
him JOWett, rhyming with HOW-it, whereas his name was JOE-ett, long O.
But here we are doing FormCriticism, while on the Biblical Greek List.
I slap my own fingers for that.

Edward Hobbs

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