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Archive for the 'Lingusitics' Category

How to Mis-use Hebrew in the Name of Selfish Christianity

13th August 2007

One of the dangers of learning a bit of biblical Hebrew (or Greek) is thinking that after a basic introduction (i.e., less than four semesters), you understand the nuances of the language. Many preachers take a little bit of Hebrew or Greek and then go on to expound profoundly about the meaning of this or that Hebrew/Greek word Sunday mornings when they preach. These errors are tame in comparison to what some people do to/with the Bible.

This video contains a hilarious (and horrendous) example of two “interpreters” appealing to the Hebrew meaning of a word to serve their heretical theology. The discussion of the Hebrew word for “word/thing” (דבר) by Kenneth Copland and his guest is a classic example of what D.A. Carson calls the”illegitimate totality transfer” fallacy (i.e., the explicit or implicit transfer of all the meanings of a given word into any given passage — in this case into every passage where the word “word” occurs!). This is such a hilarious (and sad) example that I will have to use it in my biblical interpretation class this fall.

Take a gander at the video for yourself — but be warned: while it is funny, it also reveals a side of Christianity which I find offensive (and if you don’t find that type of Christianity offensive then the video will likely offend you!).

(HT Scotteriology)


Posted in Hermeneutics, Lingusitics, Popular Culture, Theology | 8 Comments »

James Barr Dead At 82

18th October 2006

jamesbarr.jpgDr. James Barr, an amazing biblical scholar, theologian, and linguist, died October 14 in Claremont, California. Students of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament will be familiar with his works (if not, they should be!). Here is an excerpt from the Vanderbilt press release:

James Barr, an influential Bible scholar and linguist who challenged the latitude taken by many translators of Scripture, died Oct. 14 in Claremont, Calif. He was 82.

Barr, a native of Scotland, taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School from 1989 until his retirement in 1998 from his post as Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible. Upon his retirement, he was awarded the status of professor emeritus.

“Professor James Barr ranks as one of the most influential biblical scholars and Semitists of the second half of the 20th century,� said Doug Knight, professor of Hebrew Bible and director of Vanderbilt’s Center for the Study of Religion and Culture.

There is also an obituary in Wednesday’s The Times Online, which notes that Dr. Barr “was one of the most significant Hebrew and Old Testament scholars in Britain in the past century” (HT James Aitken).

Dr. Barr has published numerous scholarly works throughout his career, including the following:

His works on semantics and text criticism have been quite influential on my own thinking (The Semantics of Biblical Language is still a must read for any biblical scholar), as well as his biblical theological works (The Concept of Biblical Theology and The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality). I have also enjoyed reading his works on fundamentalism and Scripture, though I differ with some of his conclusions.

Dr. Barr’s contributions to the field will be a lasting testimony to his scholarship. Rest in peace.

Jim West also has an announcement, as does Chris Heard.


Posted in James Barr, Lingusitics, News, Old Testament, Scholars | Comments Off