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” (×“×‘×¨) 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!).
Posted in Hermeneutics, Lingusitics, Popular Culture, Theology | 8 Comments »
18th October 2006
Dr. 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.
â€œProfessor James Barr ranks as one of the most influential biblical scholars and Semitists of the second half of the 20th century,â€? said Doug Knight, professor of Hebrew Bible and director of Vanderbiltâ€™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:
- The Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford University Press, 1961; Reprinted by Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- Biblical Words for Time (London: SCM Press, 1962; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com)
- Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968; Reprinted by Eisenbrauns, 1987; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- The Bible in the Modern World (London: SCM Press, 1973; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- Fundamentalism (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1978; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- The Scope and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1980; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority, Criticism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- Beyond Fundamentalism (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- Biblical Faith and Natural Theology: The Gifford Lectures for 1991 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- The Garden of Eden and the Hope of Immortality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
- History and Ideology in the Old Testament: Biblical Studies at the End of a Millennium (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000; Buy from Amazon.ca | Buy from Amazon.com).
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