April 20, 2007

GREEK TO ME


Caption: These turkeys never read the Bible.

The guiding thread through this week's Goat Rope is a series of reflections on the Bible, along with other items of interest for the week. If this is your first visit, please scroll down to earlier entries.

In the Acts of the Apostles, on the feast of Pentecost, as the disciples were gathered in one room,


suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.


The story goes that the multitude of people from every known nation were bewildered to hear people speaking in their own native languages.

(It might spoil the effect of the story a little to point out that most of those assembled spoke the same languages, especially common Greek, probably in addition to some Latin, some Hebrew if they were religious enough to be in Jerusalem, and maybe some Aramaic.)

The point of the passage was probably that when people first heard the gospel message, it came to them in a familiar language.

Sometimes, though, I think we can let the Bible become too familiar. For that reason, I think it's good to try different translations and, if you're really feeling froggy, try it in another language.

Sort of a Pentecost in reverse...

A while back, El Cabrero made a not entirely successful assault on the Spanish language. One thing I did to practice was to try to read familiar sections of the Bible in Spanish translations. Sometimes if you know the story and the sayings, this can help you puzzle out the meaning or suggest something you may have missed otherwise.

Lately, I'm trying the New Testament in the "original" Greek. (Note: it's hard to say what's original when we're dealing with copies of copies of copies and when Jesus spoke another language than that used in the earliest written sources.)

The effort is somewhat complicated by the fact that I don't know much more than the alphabet. I'm crawling along at the pace of a couple of lines a day in an interlineal version with English under the Greek. My theory is that if I make it all the way through I'll have a working vocabulary and sense of grammar. (I'm only on chapter one of Mark, so the jury is still out.)

Jeez, do they have some long words...

CRISIS. The UN estimates that the deteriorating situation in Iraq is displacing 40-50 thousand people a month. Meanwhile, a study of primary school children in a Baghdad neighborhood found that 70 percent were suffering from trauma-related stress.


TAX CUT MANIA. On the domestic front, Antipode strikes again with a post on tax cuts and voodoo economics.


GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED

2 comments:

SparkleBrite said...

El Cabrero, it's all I can do to say my bedtime prayers, much less read the Bible in other languages!! You need to replace Don Imus and start a revolution of your own on radio. I think you'd garner quite an audience.

El Cabrero said...

Bedtime prayers--I knew I was forgetting something! I used to do a little radio, but think maybe I should try to get farther in the N.T. before taking that on. Thanks!