Flowers and Plants of Hawaii and Tropical Trees of Hawaii, two little books by Paul Wood and Ron Dahlquist - teaching myself botany now! and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society a book about the occupation of Guernsey during the second world war. And finally Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, a book with rather better policy direction and fulfillment than war allows.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Is there any word for meaning? People think that meaning is important, and sometime will use understanding as a synonym. But meaning itself seems to be a word not used in older translations of the Bible. In an English-Hebrew dictionary I found these glosses: רב משמעות, משמעי; שמשמעותו One can see that these are all derived from hearing.
How important is meaning?
It occurs to me that meaning may be deceptive. It may make us think we understand when we don't. It drives us to abstraction! rather than to reality. Of someone it is said (Isaiah 11:3) - how do I dare read this!
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I pushed the wrong buttons and published Samech after Ayin instead of before. Then today I read our Rector's invitation to imagine a teaching program that would introduce the unchurched to the Gospel. My initial thought is that it could all fit into the circle of Samech. What topics would you include in such an introduction?
I am by the way somewhat opposed to course programs that work from a confessional stance without the grounding of the more ancient narratives in the 'Old' Testament. I also think that the 'unchurched' may have more to offer than expected.
What would I fit into a Samech program? One might begin with the meaning of Samech סמך - to sustain. That captures time, life, and relationship in a word. (Psalm 145:14 - it's the 15th letter but there is a letter missing in the acrostic of Psalm 145.)
By the time I return from Hawaii, will there be a complete outline of a new program - maybe in the comments - for learning about the dwelling of God with us?
Or is this a meme - consider yourself tagged. What is the most important thing - or three most important things you would teach or present or whatever to the unchurched or to someone who had never heard the Gospel - or just what is the most important trio of things that you have in your tradition?
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Samech is rare. The letter occurs only nine times in Ruth. Three of those are in the word חֶסֶד - kindness among other things, and one in a related root, חָסָה take refuge, or shelter, or trust.. E.g. Ruth 1:8
Ayin, in contrast to Samech, is not rare. The ancients liked this guttural. Naomi נָעֳמִי and Boaz בֹּעַז both have ayin in their name. Also Orpah עָרְפָּה. It also begins some common prepositions and words.If one was to include ayin in the grammatical team, it would be a strong player and bring in the heavy usage of the two character prepositions, עַל and עִם
Many verses repeat in these exercises - it is a reading game. If one actually reads all these posts here and on Bob's Log - (click the links to the letter by letter series on the sidebars) - one will begin to recognize both form and word in Hebrew. There is no substitute for repetition - it builds ze little grey cell connections. (Actually some of those cells might be green.)
Distinguish the differing words in the following verses. There are enough examples to learn all sorts of pronomial and personal suffixes.
BDB P 768 as if alone and in one's own consciousness whether of knowledge or memory or purpose.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
On words beginning with nun, like na`ar and na`arah - see lads and lasses
Grammatically, nun is used in the second person feminine plurals
e.g. Ruth 1:7
and Ruth 1:8
I can't avoid the word for 'giving'. It is a very commonly used verb with nun in both the first and third position of the radical. It occurs 8 times in Ruth: Ruth 1:6, 1:9, 2:18, 3:17, 4:7, 11, 12, 13. Can you find the word in the following?
לָתֵת לָהֶם לָחֶם
אִשָּׁה בֵּית אִישָׁהּ
אֵת אֲשֶׁר-הוֹתִרָה מִשָּׂבְעָהּ
הָאֵלֶּה נָתַן לִי
וְזֹאת הַתְּעוּדָה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל
Meaning can be mean, slighting the searcher, evading the evangelist, withdrawing itself from view. Why do we search for meaning and can we find it in text?
Why? - even the poet did not know?
No. The poet knew and wrote from knowledge, but it was not so mean a view as we would impose on the poem.
The meaning was not necessarily in natural or easy language. The idea was not the point. The point was engagement with mystery.
So meaning is not first able to be anything but potentiality till it is found by the reader. Then the poet rejoices.
Readers too might rejoice - but the real risk is that they will be cheated by preachers, carrying them to heights of fancy rather than joy.
Preachers are not the word, but its ministers, and the word does not have a meaning that can be taken away by observation as if we have control over it.
The meaning is in the interaction. The word is like a mirror which deflects the individual: either to life or not, to darkness or light. So the human diffracts by the word when engaged by it. Don't look away.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Mem doesn't have pages in BDB about itself - it's מן that does and the preposition when it clings on to a word loses its nun most of the time. This losing of letters cannot be ignored any more. Vav and yod appear and disappear as helpers of reading in full and defective spellings and 'nun' and 'he' appear and disappear if they are part of the root. Will we find examples? Just consider, if I were to look for nun - it wouldn't be there - so how will I find it? I am sure the weak consonants will appear when we need them.
Some things that we do with our gums, lips, teeth and throat are common to all tongues. I bet there is stuff on the web somewhere about sibilants (sounds like s), gutturals (from the throat), dentals (from the teeth), and labials (from the lips) and a bunch of other special terminology. How do the Hebrew letters stand in this area?
These are distracting question so I have pushed my meandering answer to the bottom of the post. Continuing with Ruth ...
Mem as a leading letter meaning 'from' is common
לָגוּר בִּשְׂדֵי מוֹאָב
to stay in the fields of Moab
Ruth 2:1 (similar to 3:2) has an mem prefix to the word know יָדַע thus forming the noun acquaintance.
Ruth 3:4 (sim 3:7, 3:8, 3:14) This word in the plural is again derived from the verb or even the singular noun together with a mem. (In this form only used in Ruth and once in Daniel 10:6)
Addendum - letters and their sound classifications
This summary from Gesesius will save me some thinking - notice the distribution of the first 11 - the green grammatical group. I have a theory that they are 'easier' to pronounce and they make pronunciation of other letters easier especially when things need to be elided (like 'a' and 'an' in English).
|(a) Gutturals||||א ה ע ח|
|(b) Palatals||ג כ ק|
|(c) Dentals||ד ט ת|
|(d) Labials||ב פ|
|ז שׁ שׂ ס צ|
|ו י | ר ל | נ מ|
א - guttural like a glottal stop in English - light
ב - must be a labial
ג - palatal - I can feel the palate 'g'
ד - dental
ה - guttural - light
ו - sonant - never seen this word before and neither has my dictionary! Sounds like it is missing a con as prefix. I think I know it as a voiced consonant. Most of the others are unvoiced except zayin, dalet, and gimel.
ז - sibilant
ח - guttural - heavy duty
ט - dental like its brother taf
י - sonant
כ - palatal (guttural?)
ל - sonant - the middle pair
מ - sonant - the last pair
נ - sonant - the last pair
ס - sibilant
ע - guttural - heavy
פ - labial (fricative?)
צ - sibilant
ק - palatal (guttural?)
ר - sonant - the middle pair - like the gutturals never takes a dagesh
ש - sibilant - ambiguous pronunciation without the diacritical mark
ת - dental
Doug Chaplin again has an intriguing post on the nature of Jesus related to Article XV of the 39 articles.
The article starts off with this phrase: Christ in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which he was clearly void, both in his flesh, and in his spirit.
Void is a curious term for today - sounds like a method definition in a C# or java module. Meaning today - I don't return a value when executed. So when Jesus earthly life was executing (= running), with respect to sin, he did not return a value. Exactly the opposite is what I would expect. If the Father is doing the 'running' by the Spirit, then a continuous return = communications would be expected. Relationship never broken. Now this communication of mine is not in English.
It raises for me a question as to what our humanity is and what is the nature of sin in terms of my experience with systems and machines. The 19th century Frankenstein approach to humanity was that we are a clockwork finely tuned machine. This leaves no room for sin at all. It is pure determinism. Modern physics after quantum theory leaves no room for determinism of this sort. So what are we? (I have been reading some popular books on Entanglement, Infinity, and Quantum theory - so be prepared for some more strained analogies!)
Who am I and who is he - this Jesus whom Peter called the Christ, the son of the Living God? (Mark 8:27 and par.)
This is not a theological post (yet), but an anthropological one. A few weeks ago when reading Psalm 90, a teacher said to me. We are reading too much at once. How can God prosper the work of our hands when we are but a machine? We did not follow this comment up, but it has stayed with me. I think the notion that our humanity is mechanical is too simplistic. If indeed we are a wavefunction as quantum theory implies, then there are two of us as Paul noted, the old and the new. When we have passed through the split beam produced by our birth in the flesh and our birth in the cross, we are splattered into a diffraction pattern. The question is then - who will measure us that we might collapse the wavefunction and know who we are?
Our warning is not to collapse the wavefunction in the wrong way: Judge not, lest ye be judged, as our Lord said, and note also the envelope that Paul uses for his letter to the Romans (yes that letter to the Romans has a complex envelope: who are you to judge your sibling? Romans 14 closes this part of the envelope and the opening portion is in chapter 2. As I said elsewhere
When I read the closing bracket in chapter 14 - why do you judge your brother? I find the best answer is given by the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov - "because the people cannot stand the freedom You have placed them in". That is why we misread Romans. We have no capacity to judge till we have died.In this life and the life of the world to come, we must respect the outer envelope of this letter - the obedience of faith. (Romans 1:5, 16:26) Yes I know there are disputes over the last chapter. There are lots of people who open letters and rip the envelope and toss it away.
So given the requirement of faith, is there any good news about our humanity to be gleaned from this article of religion? Here it is: the Anointed is without sin in the spirit and in the flesh. So how does this affect me or you? Can I participate in the unbroken and unbreakable communion that Jesus has? (He is implicitly being talked about here as the author and finisher of our faith.) Yes we can. (Someone else said that recently.) Does our choice effect a collapse of the wavefunction? Yes it does. Is that good news? Yes it is. Try it and see. You will discover a change in judgment. Here I quote a note from Ken Schenck this morning,1897. No church that is acquainted with the Holy Ghost will object.
So we have a measurement that we have measured. We have looked at the life of Jesus and it was good. We do not de-create ourselves as Job did, because this source of our light has appeared to our Leviathan and has made the beast acceptable. The accuser can no longer stand to accuse. This same Anointing is from the beginning and is thoroughly manifest in the canon. Time itself changes its character in our eyes, much as it changed when Einstein demonstrated dilation. Do not think it is imaginary. Negative numbers, complex numbers, and the probability cloud, in spite of the fact that no one understands them, have produced technological marvels. Enter then this marvelous cloud of unknowing by the door of faith and be thereby known. You will not find it void.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I switched my orientation from left to right so I could use the new page gadget. I have annotated my current blog list so I might get to know the people I am reading a bit better. Please let me know if you have a blog you think I should read.
I have also started using Google Analytics. So far, I am impressed with their features.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Today's lesson is brought to us by the letter ל from the scroll of Ruth מגילת רות
This is another letter with several roles. Let us look at the examples to see the roles. A good place to start is with a phrase we saw in several earlier posts
The preposition occurs frequently and is most often translated by 'to' in English. So in Ruth 1:7
כִּי-אִתָּךְ נָשׁוּב לְעַמֵּךְ and they said to her
for with you we will return to your people
and so on.
Well - doesn't it just mean 'to' then. Not so fast. BDB lists more than 25 differing uses. We are just on the surface. We have two uses: with the verb - but infinitives don't require a preposition, so it is not exactly like English, and with nouns and pronouns. The correspondence between English and Hebrew verbs and their use of prepositions is varied. Sometimes it seems that Hebrew requires the preposition and English doesn't and sometimes it is the other way around. Lots of examples below for reading practice.
Ruth 1:12 and a similar use of לְאִישׁ in Ruth 1:13
Ruth 1:20 has the use of the preposition where we omit it in English and a separate preposition I have translated as 'to' also
אַל-תִּקְרֶאנָה לִי נָעֳמִי
קְרֶאןָ לִי מָרָא
כִּי-הֵמַר שַׁדַּי לִי מְאֹד
do not call me Naomi
call me Mara
for bitter is the Sufficient to me - greatly so
Ruth 2:1 has two more examples which I would render 'for' or 'of' in a awkward moment. 'Of' is a common usage particularly in the headings of the psalms.
Ruth 2:14 has one attached to a time word
Ruth 4:3 has an interesting pair
Ruth 4:6. These examples make me ask why the second verb does not take a pronoun as object directly. There's a feel for the language here that I don't yet have. One exercise that might be useful is to list all the various ways one might say the same thing.
Ruth 4:13 almost at the end of the whole story
וַיִּתֵּן יְהוָה לָהּ הֵרָיוֹן וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן
and he came to her
and יְהוָה gave her conception and she bore a son
Ruth 4:16 a final example - I think there is no correspondence between the preposition and 'his'. It just came out that way!
and set him in her lap
and became for him his support
Note 1: Henceforth no more transcription. (There are transcriptions in the previous posts in this series from dalet to kaf. ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ. And there are transcriptions in the series on Psalm 119 א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט י כ ל מ). John Hobbins even wants to wean us from נְקֻדּוֹת the nikkudot, all those little dots and dashes, but I am not going there yet. Maybe after I have visited Israel in the fall but I doubt it even then - you can generally hum and haw between letters and beats but the diacritics help me see some patterns that are otherwise invisible (like most of that piel conjugation).
Note 2: I will continue to put my translations close to the Hebrew. That's the state I am in at the moment with respect to understanding. Reading is easier than a year ago, but memory is lagging. I don't want to trouble my readers with more difficulty than I can manage.
Begin soapbox. By the way, I might be wrong. Where I remember an acknowledgment, I will note it. If I forget you, shout. Hitherto note also - I am a devoted servant of the Beloved whose Name is blessed and who makes me happy in the midst of trouble. Happy as written in Psalm 1:1 and Proverbs 8:34, confident as noted in Psalm 91:15. There is no arguing this even if I fall away into depression and skepticism. Therefore I am not first a scholar, if indeed I will ever be one. I study the Bible but I am not first doing Biblical Studies because I am not disinterested. Professionals, squirm if you must. I have been trained in recognizing my errors and I know how to leave things incomplete but do not hesitate to correct me. I like interaction and I don't get much of it. It may be that the Bible in the hands of amateurs is like loaded weapons in the hands of children, but perhaps that is the nub of our problem. I make no apology to those who are objective and distanced from text or life. I don't see either as an option. End soapbox.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
|Does not wisdom call|
and understanding give her voice
|from the hilltops|
on the way
where the roads meet
she takes her stand
|right by the gates|
at the mouth of the town
from the entrance of the doors
|To all humanity I call|
my voice to the children of humus
|understand, O naive, shrewdness|
O simpletons, understand a heart
|hear, for princely things I will speak|
and from the parting of my lips things that are upright
|for truth I muse with my gums|
and an abomination to my lips is wickedness
|of righteousness are all the words of my mouth|
there is nothing in them twisted or perverse
|all of them transparent to one who understands|
and upright to those who find knowledge
|receive my discipline and not silver|
and knowledge rather than gold of choice
|for better is wisdom than rubies|
and all things to be desired are not to be compared with her
|I, wisdom, live with shrewdness|
and knowledge of purpose I find out
|The fear of יְהוָה|
to hate evil
Pride, arrogance, the way of evil
and the mouth of falsehoods I hate
|To me is counsel and success|
I am understanding
to me is strength
|by me kings reign and rulers decree righteousness|
|by me leaders lead|
and princes, all the judges of righteousness
|as for me, I love all those loving me|
and those who seek me will find me
|wealth and glory are with me|
substance of old and righteousness
|better is my fruit than gold or fine gold|
and my coming than silver of choice
|in the path of righteousness I walk|
in the middle of the roads of judgment
|to allot to those loving me what is|
and their storehouses I will fill
|יְהוָה acquired me as the beginning of his way|
before his works of old
|from everlasting I was poured out|
from the beginning
from before earth
|when there were no depths I was begotten|
when there were no fountains heavy with water
|earlier than the mountains were sunk|
in the presence of the hills I was begotten
|as yet he had not made earth, the outside|
or the beginning of the dust of the world
|when he established the heavens, there was I|
when he inscribed a circle on the face of the deep
|when he encouraged the clouds above|
to strengthen the fountains of the deep
|when he set to the sea his decree|
that the waters should not pass over his bidding
when he inscribed the foundations of earth
|then I was beside him - faithful|
and I was his delight
day by day
at play in his presence
at all times
|at play in the world, his earth|
and delighting in the children of humus
|So now children, hear me|
for happy they that keep my ways
|hear discipline and be wise|
and do not let go
|happy is the human who hears me|
keeping watch at my portals daily
guarding the posts of my doors
|for who finds me finds life|
and will obtain acceptance of יְהוָה
|but who sins against me does violence to self|
all hating me love death