Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ideal Languages

This past week in our Christianity study, Pastor Mark challenged us to a quick writing assignment during the class.  The question he posed to us was "how are the Biblical languages ideal for God to reveal himself to us?"  We went around the table and most everyone discussed or shared a little bit about what they wrote.  So, to kind of memorialize what I managed to slap down on the paper, here is what I had.

In order for God to reveal himself to us, he had to make sure the message would get to us.  This meant, among other things, that the Bible and all of the information in it had to survive over numerous centuries, peoples, technologies, and cultures.

To get things started, Hebrew was used and was ideal because it is a language that I call "pictoral based".  That is, it is good for describing the world - things, basic actions, this happened, that happened.  To some extent, it is a good storytelling language that would have been especially useful in a time when written words were rare and people relied instead on a spoken tradition.  And if you've ever done the whisper exercise, you know that keeping things simple is important.

I also tend to think of that time period as an "infancy" period for God's people.  In relative terms, those who believed in God were in a young period in history - like a little child.  Having had little children, I know that when teaching them to communicate, you have to start with basic words.  Mama. Papa. Ball. Apple. Dog. Run. Walk. Sit.  That is, words that describe the world and what the young child sees and experiences.  Much like the Hebrew language.  So this was ideal in preserving God's revealed message for the first few thousand years.

With the arrival of Jesus, a new language became necessary.  Greek.  Of course there were practical considerations that made it an ideal language.  It was a language that most people in that part of the world could communicate with, which helped in spreading the Word.  But for my "construct", a key component is that Greek was a language that could express higher level concepts and thoughts.  As our Portable Seminary text indicates, Greek was a very nuanced language that could convey lots of information (if I can get started on my Greek study, maybe I'll figure that out).

This new language was important as God's people (both Jew and Gentile) had reached a new age and to some extent had grown up.  With Jesus, it was now time for us to start to learn how to think about applying God's laws and revelations in a way beyond mechanical adherence to an ordinance.  So being able to describe and communicate how we think and feel and what motivates us became important.  Again, this is similar to a child growing up.  As they get older, at least in school, they start getting into abstract concepts and ideas.

OK, I think that is probably all I'll get to tonight.  Seems like I had something to wrap this up with, but my brain has spaced out on me.  I'll have some more entries later this week - a little something from our A Guide to Prayer that we use in Sunday School and I need to start a bit about my lifestyle change (yeah, that's a fancy way to discuss losing weight!).  And no, I haven't proofed this before hitting the Publish button.

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