February 14, 2010

When Words Are Not Enough

A language is a way of thinking, not simply a set of words or a unique way of structuring sentences. It is physical thought in that speech is a vocalization of thought. Becasue it is physical thought it can limit how we communicate with others. This also limits the amount of words of ideas we can communicate to God (at least from our side of the conversation). Thankfully God can communicate beyond the limits of our language. Language is the speaking face of the heart, of the soul. This is why Biblical language is so important. The Greek and the Hebrew represent ways of seeing things. The fact that the Bible was written in known languages attest to its humanity. It attests to God's love for us that he would chose to communicate to us in way that we could understand and read over and over and over. The psychology of the Old Testament is very physical. Bodily organs often stand in for emotions. Fear of distress was often described as "my liver is poured out" or "my bones melt". The key is that reader must enter a different "thought world" when trying to understand the Old Testament or the Old Testament Hebrew. Without getting into the correct mindset the translation of expressions gets destroyed.

The books of the New Testament were written in Greek and they reflect a linguistic environment that left its imprint on the Koine of the New Testament. The Greek was strongly influenceed by the Hebrew of the Old Testament. The syntax and meaning of New Testament words are colored by their semitic background. The word "glory" in classic Greek "doxa" meant "opinion", then "reputation" or "honor". But when the New Testament uses the word it uses it in the Old Testament sense of "glory" or (kabod) where it stood for the manifest power, splendor, majesty & holiness of God.

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