Reflection on Hebrew

The present query as to how my first semester of Hebrew has affected my relationship to the scripture is a tough one to answer. I do not yet know if it has. It feels all too soon to ask. On one level, when I hear pastors and theologians discussing Hebrew and translations, I find I know more; I can understand what it is being discussed. However, I do not know if I now have some better understanding of the Bible for all of this.

Yet, that was not necessarily my intent. I am not a conspiracy theorist; I am not worried that my Bible has been manhandled by some secret society. I do not dream that I will be some hero able to save the scriptures from ideologically driven translators. What is my objective? I do find within myself a desire to read the Hebrew text, but that was an idea formed from this class—no, there was something drawing me to take Hebrew that had little to do even with the Bible.

I should admit, perhaps to myself, that there is a great amount of vanity driving me. Here is a path few are willing to take, few have the aptitude to take, and few have the opportunity to take: I took it. I have no dreams of being the best; I have no real hope of ever mastering this language—but I saw something hard, and I wanted to see if I could stand under its weight.

So much for my façade. Still there is a deeper reason than this. I want to understand language. I cannot find the quote, but I believe James Thurber once wrote something to the effect that he who knows only English knows English least. I want to know language; I love language. I project that Hebrew will help me understand, not just my Bible, but my mother tongue better.

“And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

~A Christmas Carol

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