Friday, May 2, 2008

Anyone Interested in Learning a Little Hebrew or Greek?

As I was leaving the campus at which I work for lunch today I heard the voice of one of my students calling out to someone at the flagpole in the front of the school. She was saying something to the effect that she was coming to join the small group that was gathered there to pray and that someone or other was a "butt-hole" for not showing up. I had to laugh at what I view as the irony of the situation and words. Here is an individual of faith about to address her Heavenly Father in prayer and calling others of His children "butt-holes." Perhaps it is just me but I don't think that I would like to degrade a fellow son or daughter of God in such a manner, especially right before I address my Heavenly Father, who also happens to be the Heavenly Father of those whom I would have just demeaned.
Anyhow, I had this student in my class later in the day and I had mentioned to her that I heard her going to pray at lunch (I didn't mention anything more--I do not wish to either accuse or diminish one's faith to any degree and knowing the way in which teenagers think, even mentioning what I have written above in good humor would easily be misinterpreted as an attack on the student's character or belief. I much rather promote faith than to destroy it, even if it is a faith that is different than my own.
Needless to say, this student wanted to get into a religious discussion in class, which I cannot do (and which, in truth, she is more likely than not using as a means to get out of the day's lesson rather than engaging in such a discussion out of sincere interest). She also mentioned that she would like me to debate her pastor on Christianity and Mormonism. I simply smiled and continued my lesson on literary terms.
This brief exchange did cause me to think a bit upon my drive home (I have about a 30 minute commute, one-way) about fundamental and sincere differences that exist between most Christian faiths and restored Christianity (or Mormonism). There is a lot in common, but there are also some key differences that exist. Being an English teacher I am fascinated by the Biblical language of one particular concept concerning the Godhead and the relation of the pre-mortal existence of each human being and the role of the creation. Mainstream Christianity believes in the Trinity--that there is one God and one God only who embodies three roles: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And that this singular being is the sole Creator of the heavens and the earth. And that mankind did not exist in any form before this creation. Restored Christianity (Mormonism) believes the Godhead to be three distinct individuals: God, the Father; Jesus Christ, the Son; and the Holy Ghost. While they are three distinct and separate beings, we believe them to be one in mind and purpose. Furthermore, we believe that Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth under the direction of God, the Father. And that we (human beings) existed before the creation of the earth as spirit sons and daughters of God. I express this so that we might better understand where I am coming from as a teacher of the English language when I think and ponder upon the Old Testament scripture of the creation found in Genesis 1: 26, which states: "And God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness. . ." I have added the emphasis on the plural pronouns within the verse. I cannot understand how some in Christianity justify the use of the plural when God is speaking before the creation if God is in fact one singular being. To whom then is God speaking? It makes sense in the light of restored Christianity (Mormonism) that God, the Father, would be speaking with Jesus Christ (two separate and distinct Gods)--hence, the use of the plural pronouns "us" and "our." But then I thought, "What if the use of the plural is simply a matter of mistranslation from the Hebrew to the English?" So I decided to track down the original Hebrew and sure enough it uses the plural form also--it is not a mistranslation!
And this concept of going back to the original fascinated me, so now I am thinking about purchasing an Interlinear Bible with the original Hebrew and Greek alongside the English. And I am thinking about learning some basic Hebrew and Greek. So, I have sitting in my Amazon Books Cart the Interlinear Bible, and a couple of books on learning Hebrew and Greek. They are just waiting for me to click the button. I think it would be fascinating to learn the basics of these languages and to compare biblical passages according to language (I've also thought about purchasing German, Norwegian, and Latin Bibles to extend the concept further). Needless to say, the whole purpose of this post is to see if there is anyone that would be interested in learning a little Hebrew and/or Greek along with me? I figure if I get the books I could have a few people over, a couple of times a week, for a short amount of time (something that would fit our schedules, even if it is just 20 minutes or so--something doable) and learn the basics of the languages. Is anyone game? If so, I will click that button and get the ball rolling. I think it would be awesome! Let me know what you think.

7 comments:

Liz W. said...

Do you even have to ask if I would be in?

Of course!

Heather said...

I have often toyed with the same idea (reading untranslated versions)...although I never actually took the time to really do it! I've loved comparing the portuguese translations with english. the different words they use bring to light a different aspect which is like an amazing gift from about. I'd love to join you...

Rachel said...

I would definitely be in. I took a German class at BYU and one of our extra credit assignments was to do our scripture study out of the German Book of Mormon. Very interesting. It adds a whole new level to your understanding.

Ms. Liz said...

I'm game too. A little Hebrew and Greek goes a long way.

Empress of Venus said...

I'd love that! One of my bff's speaks both, I think. I'll ask him. I can already count to 5 in Greek, so Yay for no homework the first week

Mr. Hall said...

Awesome! I have "pushed the button" and submitted my order from Amazon (Super Saver Shipping so it may take a couple of weeks before arrival). Anyhow, I am available Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings if any of those work for you. Let me know which day or days and times work best for you all.

Liz W. said...

Any of those days work for me!