Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Language and culture

"When people want to study the Bible seriously, one of he steps they take is to learn the language. As I teach language students, I am still always faced with the challenge of persuading them that they will not succeed simply by learning enough of the language to engage in translation. Truly learning the language requires leaving English behind, entering the world of the text and understanding the language in its Hebrew context without creating English words in their minds. They mus understand the Hebrew as Hebrew text. This is the same with culture. We must make every attempt to set our English categories aside, to leave our cultural ideas behind, and try our best (as limited as the attempt might be) to understand the material in its cultural context without translating it."—John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One, page 11

<idle musing>
Yes! Language learning that stops at decoding is not language learning; the same is true of culture. We cannot simply bring our presuppositions into our reading of the biblical text; we must accept the biblical text on its own terms, as difficult as that is.
</idle musing>


Dr. Dave said...

And speaking of language, the link in your right-hand bar is as dead as zhubert since it shut down....

jps said...

I know. I keep hoping it will resurrect, even though I know it won't