Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Language and the Bible

I had a great time at the LC/NA assembly this past weekend, Let Justice Roll. It was great to be with all those people and the speakers were awesome! Good times.

I only have one more week (after this one) of Hebrew left. I am glad of that, means I'll only have two classes to work on then. I would prefer it be my Romans class ending instead, but alas. Some weeks I feel swamped with work, and others I feel like I must have forgotten to do something. Not sure why. Hebrew leads me to something else I've been thinking about, though. Language. After looking at the Bible in its Greek and Hebrew origins, and realizing just how gray translating is, it's sort of a wonder we find these texts normative at all. For example, in my Romans class, the prof is pretty into telling us that maybe Luther misunderstood Paul. This week, this misunderstanding centers around a prepositional phrase, διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, (from Rom. 3:22) the controversy being over whether it means, as a genitive phrase, through faith IN Jesus Christ, or through faith OF Jesus Christ. If taken in certain theological directions, it apparently has significant implications over works and the role of our faith and how that happens and where it comes from and there seem to be attempts to overthrow entire theological frameworks through this one phrase. To a certain extent, I think, holy crap dude, who says either of you is right? Sometimes it just makes me wonder if we aren't making mountains out of molehills, and is this really what we need to think so hard about? Does it not lead to the same conclusion? That may be next week's answer... Sigh. But overall, it makes me think, since the prof is so concerned about getting to what Paul was actually saying...I don't know that that is possible. At all. And even if it is, how important is that? Language evolves, cultures evolve, and none of those things translate completely across borders and time. This raises significant questions about how we use the Bible and how we should. Understanding is always good, and I certainly don't want to claim that we should wander around ignorant and throwing the Bible unwittingly at people, but at the same time, are we asking more from it than it is capable of giving? Is this another way to worship the creation rather than the Creator? It starts to feel like one needs a master's degree just to be able to read the Bible properly. Just a few thoughts that have been chasing around inside my head. Maybe that's just my own prejudices getting in the way, who knows. Thoughts?

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