Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sunday school lesson 2

I've got my next 5 minute Hebrew lesson - here it is. Just became clear in the last 5 minutes. But it has taken longer than 5 minutes to write it out - and I wouldn't normally do this in advance! I wonder what's happening to me.

Last week we learned ki-tov from this one verse.

וירא אלהים את-האור כּי-טוב And God saw the light, that it was good.
And we read the words va-yira - he saw. And Elohim, God, and the special word 'et' and the word ha-or, the light. So that's a review - and it all sounds and looks so different from English words in the Latin alphabet. But ki-tov - it was good.

This week I have another verse where we see that the LORD is good. So we have from last week a creation that is good. You showed me the image of the light and the darkness that you had made. Now in this verse we have an invitation to know the goodness of the One who is the creator. And here you will hear and see - that we have only read one verse in the Bible in Hebrew - and right away there are two words in this next verse that are the same as words in the verse we read last week.
טעמו וראו כּי-טוב יהוה. O taste and see that the LORD is good.
Taste - ta-'amu - an invitation, and see ure'u, that is good ki-tov the LORD. It's a little hard to recognize the similarity in the words for seeing but God sees yira - and we see re-u. Something else too - there are two different words, as in English, that are used of the one LORD God who created the heavens and the earth - the special name that you can see in letters but which a reader does not normally say, but substitutes Adonai or Ha-Shem, the name, and the word Elohim in last week's verse.
The special name of the Lord God is not spoken. Hebrew readers substitute ha-shem (the name) or adonai (the Lord) instead of speaking the name. In the Jewish tradition, the name is spoken once a year by the High Priest at the feast of Atonement.
Knowing that this is your first seeing and hearing of a whole new writing system, I am going to give you a handout of all the letters. Some day, we will construct our own alef-bet book too.

Any predictions as to how much I will get through of this in 5 minutes?

A Jihad for Love continuing

Sandi DuBowski continues the with the NY premiere of his new film

Friday, May 30, 2008

Reading vertically did I miss any?

I think this makes as much sense as Sesame Street's abcdefk, jklmnop, qrstuvxyz (if you are young enough to remember that song.) Can you make a sentence or two with the following words - father, great, save me, gold, wheat, all, king, sign, dust, righteousness, horn, oil of gladness, instruction.

This challenge can go beyond the Hebraists to English speakers. The letters in red below - if they don't get messed up in publication - are the letters of the Hebrew Alef-Bet in sequence. I bet I could have chosen a little better to make the sentence easier or more meaningful.

Father, in your great mercy, save me.
With golden wheat, feed us all.
Your king, a sign in the dust of righteousness,
raises our horn with the oil of gladness,
making present your instruction.


Alef is for apple and opple, and epple, and oopple

[Update: continuing the challenge here.]
My first draft of an alef-bet book is advanced from my last post. I am thinking it might also inform a sentence (or maybe a paragraph) which would help remember the sequence of the alef-bet. That and grammar are still the bane of my memory!

If any care to comment - please help me correct any typos or other errors of judgment (even).

Here is (most of) the text extracted from the image:

A first draft of an alef-bet book סֵפֶר אָלֶף-בֵּית עִבְרִי‎ Sepher alef-beit Ivri
Alef is for
אַבְרָהָם Abraham, pronounced Avraham The first part of the word, אַב, is father
Bet is for
בַּת שָׁבַע Bathsheba, pronounced Batshava The first part of the word, בַּת, is daughter
Gimel is for
גָּדוֹל Great, gadol, Psalm 96 כִּי גָדוֹל יְהוָה For great is the LORD
Daleth is for דָּוִד David. The vav and the bet (vet) can both make the v sound
He is for הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי Save me, hoshieini, Psalm 3:8
קוּמָה יְהוָה הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱלֹהַי Arise LORD, save me, my God
Vav is for וַשׁתִּי Vashti. Esther 1:9
גַּם וַשְׁתִּי הַמַּלְכָּה Also, Vashti, the queen...
Zayin is for זָהָב Gold, zahav, Psalm 19:11
הַנֶּחֱמָדִים מִזָּהָב More to be desired than gold
Chet is for חִטִּים Wheat, chittim, Psalm 147:14
חֵלֶב חִטִּים, יַשְׂבִּיעֵךְ A fatness of wheat he gives you
Tet is for טַעַם Taste, ta`am, Psalm 34:9
טַעֲמוּ וּרְאוּ, כִּי-טוֹב יְהוָה Taste and see that the LORD is good
Yod is for יָדְךָ Your hand, yadeka, Psalm 139:10
גַּם-שָׁם, יָדְךָ תַנְחֵנִי Even there your hand would lead me
Kaf is for כָּל All, kol, Psalm 65:3
עָדֶיךָ, כָּל-בָּשָׂר יָבֹאוּ To you all flesh will come.
Lamed is for לָמָה Why, lamah, Psalm 22:1
אֵלִי אֵלִי, לָמָה עֲזַבְתָּנִי My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
Mem is for מֶלֶךְ King, melek, Psalm 24:10
הוּא מֶלֶךְ הַכָּבוֹד He is the King of glory
Nun is for נֵּס Sign, nes, Psalm 60:6
נָתַתָּה לִּירֵאֶיךָ נֵּס You give to those fearing you a sign
Samech is for סְעָרָה Sustain me, S'arah. Psalm 119:117
סְעָדֵנִי וְאִוָּשֵׁעָה Sustain me and I will be saved
Ayin is for עָפָר Dust, 'apar, Psalm 103:14
זָכוּר, כִּי-עָפָר אֲנָחְנוּ He remembers that we are but dust
Peh is for פְּצֵנִי Rescue me, petsani, Psalm 103:11
פְּצֵנִי וְהַצִּילֵנִי Rescue me and deliver me
Tsadi is for צֶדֶק Right, tsedek, Psalm 23:3
יַנְחֵנִי בְמַעְגְּלֵי-צֶדֶק He guides me in paths of righteousness
Qof is for קֶרֶן Horn, qeren, Psalm 132:17
אַצְמִיחַ קֶרֶן לְדָוִד I will cause to sprout a horn of David
Resh is for רְשָׁעִים Wicked, rashaim, Psalm 1:6
וְדֶרֶךְ רְשָׁעִים תֹּאבֵד but the way of the wicked will perish
שׁין / שׂין
Shin / Sin is for שֹׁשַׁנִּים and שָׂשׂוֹן gladness and lilies, Psalm 45:1 and 7
עַל-שֹׁשַׁנִּים At the place of the lilies שֶׁמֶן שָׂשׂוֹן the oil of gladness
Taf is for תּוֹרַתָוֹרַת Teaching, Torah, Psalm 19:8
תּוֹרַת יְהוָה תְּמִימָה The teaching of the LORD is complete

Thursday, May 29, 2008

An Alef-Bet Book

I'm thinking about a theological alef-bet book - the first one for learning some basics, the second for harder stuff. There are infinite possibilities except for Vav for which there are nearly no words at all! What a letter! And you have to be careful with aleph and yod and taf since many of the 'words' they begin are due to their role as prefixes. And you have to be careful with those prefixed prepositions Bet and He and Lamed (not to mention Mem and Kaf) since many of those 'words' begin with the second letter. Here's a first cut at the easy alef-bet book. [Update: to make learning by inspection possible, I think every one of them should have a Hebrew verse and translation...]

Here are all the two letter combinations as the first and second letters of a lexical 'word' in the Psalms. I am putting it on this blog since the template on the psalms blog is too narrow. The first letter is down the left column. The second letter is the transliteration in the header row. Read each cell right to left of course. (I should have reverse the order of the cross tab!) Now you can see clearly which subset of letters is used second less often. And you can see - Vav is used with every other consonant except itself - but not one of them - zero - is a word beginning with Vav.

אב אג אד אה או אז אח אט אי אכאל אמאנאס אע אפאצאק אר אשׁ אשׂ את
ב בא בב בג בד בה בו בז בח בט בי בכבל במבנבס בע בפבצבק בר בשׁ בשׂ בת
ג גא גב גג גד
גו גז גח
גל גמגנ
גע גפ

גר גשׁ

ד דא דב דג

די דכדל דמ

דע דפ

דר דשׁ
ה הא הב הג הד הה הו הז הח הט הי הכהל המהנהס הע הפהצהק הר השׁ השׂ הת
ו וא וב וג וד וה
וז וח וט וי וכול ומונוס וע ופוצוק ור ושׁ ושׂ ות
ז זא זב
זד זה זו

זי זכזל זמזנ

זק זר

חב חג חד
חו חז
חט חי חכחל חמחנחס
חפחצחק חר חשׁ חשׂ

טה טו

טל טמ

טע טפ


י יא יב יג יד יה יו יז יח יט יי יכיל ימיניס יע יפיציק יר ישׁ ישׂ ית
ככא כב כג כד כה כו כז כח כט כי כככל כמכנכס כע כפכצכק כר כשׁ כשׂ כת
ל לא לב לג לד לה לו לז לח לט לי לכלל למלנלס לע לפלצלק לר לשׁ לשׂ לת
ממא מב מג מד מה מו מז מח מט מי מכמל מממנמס מע מפמצמק מר משׁ משׂ מת
ננא נב נג נד נה נו נז נח נט ני נכנל נמנננס נע נפנצנק נר נשׁ נשׂ נת
סב סג

סח סט סי סכסל סמ

סע ספ


עב עג עד
עו עז
עט עי עכעל עמענ

עפעצעק ער עשׁ עשׂ עת

פד פה פו פז פח
פנפס פע
פצפק פר פשׁ
צצא צב
צד צה צו
צל צמצנ
צע צפ


קד קה קו

קט קי
קל קמקנ

קר קשׁ

ר רא רב רג רד רה רו רז רח
רי רכ
רע רפרצרק
שׁ שׁא שׁב שׁג שׁד שׁה שׁו
שׁח שׁט שׁי שׁכשׁל שׁמשׁנשׁס שׁע שׁפ
שׁק שׁר שׁשׁ
שׂ שׂא שׂב
שׂח שׂט שׂי שׂכשׂל שׂמשׂנ
שׂע שׂפ
שׂק שׂר
ת תא תב תג תד תה תו תז תח תט תי תכתל תמתנתס תע תפתצתק תר תשׁ תשׂ תת

Monday, May 26, 2008

A New alef-bet song

Here is a challenge to the Hebraists out there.

Can you write a coherent sentence using all the letters of the alef-bet in sequence?

Can you write a sentence using a minimum of words that have all the letters of the alef-bet in sequence and would be memorable and singable by children?

Here are some starting points: words beginning with
alef-bet like אֲבָרְכֶךָּ
gimel-dalet like גְדֹלוֹת
he-vav הוֹלֵךְ
zayin stands alone,
chet-tet-yod חִטִּים
kaf-lamed-mem כְּלִמָּה
nun-samech נִסְתָּר
ayin-peh עָפָר
tsade stands alone,
qof-resh קָרָאתִי
resh-shin - it's hard to escape רְשָׁעִים
sin stands alone, tav stands alone

(When I say stands alone, it means there are no words I can find in the Psalms that combine that letter with the next in the alef-bet. You need not confine yourself to the Psalms.)

Friends - if such I may call you - try me a riddle please.
To the Better Bibles Blog - Peter, Suzanne and others...
To John Hobbins the incomparable poetry master
To Duane Smith of abnormal imagination
To Tim Bulkeley the traveller in far-away places
To Chris Heard - the creative interpreter of functions and structures
To Iyov - master of the Shakespearian and collector of innumerabilia
To DLC - the Hebrew Language Detective

The purpose is to have a mnemonic for order and meaning - it can include a dash of theology if it is good - Can you work in the Schema in a triple rhythm?

I promise to read your blogs - I do I do.

Sunday School lesson 2

Feedback from lesson 1 from the adults was very positive. I had pre-arranged the blocks to read from Genesis as in this image and I had printed several copies of the image of ci-tov as noted in the prior post here. As I talked a bit about different writing systems, and read the verse in Genesis 1 to them, I got them to cut out a section of the ci-tov image so that they each had one for themselves.

What some children enjoyed the most was wrapping the paper around their fingers or rolling it up into a cylinder - next time maybe I will do a mobius strip with them in class.

What's my next word to teach going to be? I thought maybe אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) but I am stuck for a few things - what to do with the 'idea' of God in letters - the plural form, the difference between a name and an unnamable. I wonder about making a bit of Psalm 82 in the blocks then showing that Elohim occurs 36 times in Genesis 1-2:4 alone. I don't think the children will 'get' a graph of the usage of Elohim verses the tetragrammaton.

And I thought also that if any one of them is keen to learn more outside of 5 minutes a week, they need some names for the letters - so I will have a one page handout on the letters and let the letter names teach themselves. See the image to the left for the idea. (And feel free to use it for teaching or learning if you like.)

To make that image work, I will get the children to find the letters from week 1 in it, and then get them to find the letters from the rest of that verse and maybe another verse like Psalm 82 verse 5.

I will avoid diacritical marks for a while (except the mater lectiones and the necessary dagesh and marks to distinguish shin and sin). Then I don't teach again till mid June. The first lesson was fun for me. I wonder what will come of these lessons.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lesson 1 for Sunday School

I have five minutes at the beginning of Sunday School - mixed ages - to introduce them to their first Hebrew word - well not one word but two: כִּי-טוֹב (ki-tov).

I also have my full set of Bob's Blocks made with mactac. Should be fun. If you think of anything I should say in this play - do let me know.

Round the World in 80 Blogs

Lingamish has tagged a Round the World in 80 Blogs

A nice tag - I will include:

7475 that awesome film that Stephen (aka Q) pointed out. And here's some more:

7374 Irshad Manji - Advice to atheists, from a Buddhist Muslim

7273 These days I am enjoying learning how to count in Hebrew from Iyov's pointers to the (H)Omer site.

There's three - Lingamish has tagged everyone on his list - and counting backwards will be a curious exercise!

Update - here's twothree more - I am looking for the views of all on theological and hermeneutical matters

72 and 71 Phil Sumpter and Michael Bird tend to write on these things.

70 Here's a blog I have troubles with - and an entry I find problematical - talk about lack of complementarity: Akram's Razor

Winner of the Cannes short film competition

Don't miss this

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Daimoniacus in synagoga

The Sabbath meeting is disturbed by an unclean spirit. The spirit knows who Jesus is. Here is the first part of Mark's focus: who is this Jesus? Are we to believe the unclean spirit? Are we to be more than impressed by the authority of the teaching and of the actions which we have portrayed in front of us?

The spirit asks a question that is not answered: are you come to destroy us? The fear we know in the presence of authority invites self-protection whatever our technique might be. The spirit has exposed itself. Does it truly know that Jesus is the Holy One of God? Do we know the spirit that is in another or do we project our own fears onto the one we see?

I want you to know, Beloved, that the task laid out for me is too difficult. I have researched only a small portion of these texts and already the complexity of differences leaves me wondering how they were created, and I born so close to the places where the events happened and the child of one of the secretaries. Perhaps I will not reach the appointed end of my task, but bit by bit I will continue.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In synagoga Capharnaum docet

Galilee is a backwater to Judeans, Beloved. The scribes taught there in the hopes of bringing the redeeming value of Torah to the illiterate north. Now Jesus astonished them with his teaching.

What kind of authority do we need that we might know we have found what we seek? Whether Greek or Jew, Samaritan or Galilean, Italian, Spanish, from Libya, or Asia, there is a certain common question in us that seeks a real author. Not one who argues over each word, but one who sounds a note that vibrates with our spirit or one whose words may be tried and found to be reliable. Such a one will inspire trust.

In this passage, uncle Mark switches from Matthew's order to Luke's. His story does not need long sermons and he avoids them. I have a different problem in my reconstruction of all four witnesses together. I have to discover if these 12 tables with their paper and coloured thread will - after all - yield to me their precious ointment, so that my tears as meat will cease and my joy in having been fished out of my confusing seas will be complete.

Vocatio discipulorum

- it's not my fault. All is a mist. Darkness. I see nothing. Stay with me.
- I've been where you are... in darkness, then seeing men without form. It too will pass. I must go to Perga with my uncle and that other man.

How strange that God would send Mark, who saw others as trees walking, with Paul, himself so afflicted in his eyes. And they would fall out - for Paul made one blind who thought he saw. Two weak vessels with the more mature Barnabas made the first journey to the Diaspora and to the Gentiles in Asia. Then uncle Mark returned to Jerusalem.

- venite post me et faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum

Whether we are weak or strong, we are called to follow. As we follow, we learn slowly how to show the journey to others. And sometimes the weak find they can give strength to the strong. And sometimes the strong find they are not so strong and learn a gentler rebuke. When I was 6, I remember uncle Mark came with us when we moved from Jerusalem to Alexandria. He was nearly 10 times my age. I loved to sit on his knee as our vessel moved over the waters. He told me of bar Jesus and of his own blindness.

As for fishing, I was intrigued with the metaphor of us as fish and I a great netter of fish. That too was a long time ago. Fishing seemed a powerful sort of thing and that use of language seemed so creative. Fish? We might not cook so well or taste as good as fish. But they followed him, expecting just such a call. And uncle Mark learned also to follow him and taught me for a time when I was very small.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Proud Dad 2

Ballerina Daughter-in-law, Jennifer, left for London yesterday and for Toulousse where she has auditions. Daughter, Sarah, will meet her in London tomorrow on her way from Cambridge to lunch at the House of Lords. She and her acting Dean of Chapel are on their way to Lambeth where she will play a service in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of Selwyn College and meet the three Archbishops - Canterbury, York and Wales. All three will be at the service.

My wife Diana and I have just come from a Hamam - the second awesome thing we have done in Winnipeg (besides the Ballet) - The first awesome thing was yesterday's visit to the St John's Bible at the Art Gallery - a wonderful display.

I hope you all are enjoying my short holiday. We are on our way to Jasper by train in a few hours and will spend a couple of nights at the Lodge before heading back to Victoria.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tchaikovsky and

Last night I watched dance with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, my daughter-in-law on stage, my son in the pit. It was an all Balanchin program:

PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY Serenade in C Major for String Orchestra
PAUL HINDEMITH Theme with Four Variations for String Orchestra and Piano
BACH Double Violin Concerto in D Minor

I suppose it is OK to have heard the Bach, but Tchaik! No way - he was another of those miserable folk whose life is unacceptable to some. They say they love sinners - but I say they do not know who or what they are talking about.

I am first an evangelist. I also happen to be a lot of other things. But so what. I am known by my Saviour who understands the Law of Requisite Variety - Only variety can absorb variety. My God knows how to save in all sorts of situations and is not dependent on either good or bad Law.

I expect there are many who might sympathize with the Evangelical Manifesto that some are looking at this week but who would consider that all that beautiful young flesh and its lithe and supple coordination on stage, whether male or female, should be more fully covered.

They too - bound by their own conceit and prejudice - do not know to what extent their God has gone to rejoice in his own - who delights not in the strength of any man's legs (look for me somewhere in the later psalms) - but who makes his people a joy in the dance, and knows the discipline needed to grow a company of dancers who praise with the best member that they have (look for me somewhere in the earlier psalms and the middle of Jeremiah).

How can you be an evangelist and reject the Evangelical Manifesto? Well -it is .... too many syllables. John Hobbins gives a few notes here. I have captured a few random thoughts below, each one following a sound bite in italics from the Manifesto. Words do not escape words.

live the way he taught, and believe as he believed.
I would say live the way he teaches and believe as he directs now. As he said himself by the pen of his Evangelist John, I have many things to teach you but you cannot bear them now. The Spirit ... will take what is mine and give it to you and will teach you all things. (Look for me in the farewell discourse John 16ish and don't rubbish me with your interpretation.)

Christian faithfulness and moral integrity
Morals had to get in there - didn't they. It is sufficient that faithfulness to the Spirit, in the Spirit, by the death of Christ determines action and thought. The Law and the so called Christian judgment of behaviour cannot take precedence or become an add-on to faithfulness. The letter kills and has no power to make alive. Of course moral integrity will follow commitment to Christ - but not your idea of it.

his attitude toward the total truthfulness and supreme authority of the Bible
Jesus attitude towards the supreme authority of the Bible - what!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Bible did not exist in the days of this child of the dust on the earth. You mean the Bible as I, my tradition, a failed Christendom used to preach (witness the treatment of the Jews by the Church, the appalling attitude to and abuse of power with respect to sex - not to mention slavery and ownership of women) . This is the Bible and the preachers who knew nothing about the love of God as it expressed itself in someone different from themselves and their cultural tradition. This is the Bible of the abusing power mongers whose own desires they could not manage or comprehend and who preach Christ without knowing the power of his crucifixion for them.

yet our first allegiance is always to a higher loyalty and to standards that call all other standards into question

Here it is in their own electronic letters - standards we have that no one else has. When you live with these, I will start listening to you. The first is that you not reject those who come to the Church for blessing. Though they are believing in Christ, you reject them. He came unto his own and his own received him not. Fair enough if you refuse your blessing to those who have rejected you and your version of Christ or Church. But to those who say they are Christ's - don't you trust your own risen Saviour to correct them to agree with you? Or maybe you aren't so sure of your standards after all.

“good news” by definition, is overwhelmingly positive, and always positive before it is negative.

Now that takes the cake - I would be better off, eh, if I had never heard your good news. Some Evangelism that is. It is no wonder that my children have nothing to do with 'religion'. Let your Saviour do His job - get out of His Way - for surely He is coming to judge the earth - and it will be with righteousness - not of your making.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Proud Dad

My daughter Sarah has conducted, played for, or produced over 25 CDs to date. Here is a link to her latest press release : Stunning recording of sacred music, released by Selwyn College Chapel Choir.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Secundus on vacation

Do not be disturbed, Beloved, with any rumour that may emerge that I cannot fulfill my promises to you of a continuing story. I have been delayed these past 6 weeks with work on the estate - such that I have been unable to consider adequately what I will say concerning the fulfillment of Isaiah that our Lord spoke of proleptically in Luke's manuscript that I have. Luke is always in the habit of speaking of something before he introduced it and so he did here too - speaking of works at Capernaum before he describes them later on. (Don't let this fool you into thinking that Luke is copying from Mark!)

What we must note, however, is where Jesus stopped reading. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

He did not read the next phrase et diem retributionis- a day of vengeance for our God. Why? Because, Beloved, he took that day of vengeance on himself and swallowed it up as a counterbalance of the Day of Creation in which we are. The Day, Beloved, this day - today is the day of the acceptable year of the Lord. This is the day in which the Lord God creates a temple meet for his own dwelling - even you and - yes I must include me. You may wish not to include me - but it does include me and even my enemies whom I love and who will be my judges. But not until they too come to see the acceptable Year of the Lord - the Day in which the Lord God created heaven and earth.

So it is that we will enter into his rest - all and sundry.

Those manuscripts - and I have such a one here at the estate - which say that he proclaimed the Day of vengeance - are harder to read - for they focus on judgment which is God's and not ours. Yet if we are judged - even by our enemies - and if we judge our enemies, our judgment is just for while we were enemies, our Lord Christ died for us to bring us to himself that we might indeed be just judges on whatever day or issue we are required to judge.

May you recognize the presence of our Lord so that he does not pass through the midst of you and go away.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

From Saturday

A sleepless night - sciatic impossibility of lying down - took up Ian Mcewan's novel Saturday - set on the eve of the second war against Iraq. Read it mostly standing up. Some of the best writing I have read in a while. Shows that I should stop being buried in other people's scholarship and enjoy life a little.

There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself. Out in the real world there exist detailed plans, visionary projects for peaceable realms, all conflicts resolved, happiness for everyone, for ever - mirages for which people are prepared to die and kill. Christ's kingdom on earth, the worker's paradise, the ideal Islamic state. But only in music, and only on rare occasions, does the curtain actually lift on this dream of community, and it's tantalizingly conjured, before fading away with the last notes.