Sunday, June 02, 2013

Scrambled Brain

The current ideal protestant theology training requires learning both Greek and Hebrew.  Many of the Masters programs have the students studying both Greek and Hebrew at the same time.  If you are a Roman Catholic, than Latin must be added, although I believe that Hebrew gets dropped.  Something has to give.  We also have sanity as one of our trade off options.

Yesterday I finished the first of three term papers for my last semester of the Hebrew sequence, but I have been listening to Greek tapes on the side preparing for the next phase.  My brain, however, is starting to rebel as attempts to form a Greek sentence result in a mishmash of Hebrew and poorly pronounced Greek words.  How to keep it all straight?  Somehow I am not surprised that the surveys state that less than 20% of seminary students retain an ability to understand Hebrew.  I had thought this statistic to be something lamentable when I first read it, although a retained but scrambled understanding is potentially the worse outcome.

7 comments:

Delirious said...

Not to be offensive, but I have always bucked at the idea that you need to have all of this training to be a minister. Many of the original twelve apostles were mere fisherman, not men of high education. The Savior chose them because of their quality of heart, not because of their training. I think you are already the kind of person who would be a great church leader. Sorry, I'm a little rebellious, but I just had to add my two cents. :)

Looney said...

No need to be sorry! I would much rather listen to someone with a mediocre education but a heart that is in line with God's heart.

Rummuser said...

I have no intentions of becoming a preacher or a priest but went through a lot of problems learning Sanskrit. It was challenging and I now have a working knowledge which enables me to understand many of our scriptures better than when I used English as the language. I still use both, but am better equipped to understand.

When I was going through the difficulties in learning, I was told to abide and that it would all fall into place.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

Like we spoke before: the only way for you to retain Hebrew is to visit Israel and put what you learned to use. It's either that or participate in Hebrew Webminars.

I always wanted to learn Greek: it is a beautiful language. I might one day.

I admire your will to learn: כל הכבוד
Cheers

Russell Norman Murray said...

'Somehow I am not surprised that the surveys state that less than 20% of seminary students retain an ability to understand Hebrew. I had thought this statistic to be something lamentable when I first read it, although a retained but scrambled understanding is potentially the worse outcome.'

I have taken Greek, not Hebrew. My main PhD advisor (UK) had not taken Hebrew.

Once one arrives to a MA-PhD level there is a distinct difference between Biblical Studies and a Biblical Theologian, if he/she is even a legitimate Theologian and a Philosophical Theologian or Philosopher of Religion. With the first track more emphasis would be placed on languages. This is why for example some linguists may know many languages but be fuzzy on the philosophical concept of eternal vs. everlasting in translating, based on same root Greek word. Whereas this is something I would key on.

The historical track would likely be more similar to the Biblical Studies one, but there can be crossover.

I reason that it is better to take the languages, but much of it can be researched by textbooks and unless one is up on it daily/weekly for the reason you noted Looney, one would be very dependent on outside help such as texts.

Looney said...

Russ, thanks for the comparison. I was hoping to be on the Theologian track more and avoid the languages, but God has compelled me otherwise. My instincts tell me that a professional translator would be vastly better than my own efforts, especially since I have had to live and work in non-English speaking countries. Over the last semester, however, my Hebrew professor has been forcing us through comparisons (original texts vs peer publications) where the professional scholars were hopelessly in error and/or so misleading that it would have been better if they had said nothing.

A typical example might be the famous claim that the Hebrew word for day, yom, can be translated as a period of time. After doing a word study, I found that this was sort-of true: "days of Harvest" in Hebrew would be rendered as "Harvest time" in English. Thus, the translation of yom into "period of time" turns out to be an artifact of English, rather than of Hebrew. In other words, what the Darwinists have been saying is totally misleading.

The Hebrew professor assured us that we really weren't that bad off compared to the experts, which is scary. I am hoping that my experiences with modern foreign languages keep me from getting too over-confident and/or conceited in these matters. And hopefully I will be able to keep using the languages daily.

Russell Norman Murray said...

Thanks for help to fill my Blog comments with humans.;)

And in the summer pageviews sag.

Did a little more research and think my latest comment sheds more light.

God bless to you and family...