Thursday, December 07, 2006

Behold! You: Pregnant!

Genesis 16:11 - "Hineich harah" Believe it or not, these are the literal words of the Holy Scriptures, the words of the Angel of the Lord proclaiming to Hagar that she was pregnant with Ishmael. English could learn a thing or two from the simplicity of Hebrew. Note the complete lack of verbs and syntax, there aren't even any nouns in this proclamation, yet it gets the job done. Thus, Hebrew is not unlike the language of Cro-magnon man, a certain divine "booga-booga" language...Tarzan would be a quick learner, I think...Stallone too...and maybe Ali-G.

So let's take a look at some ways this could be applied to English. Instead of saying, "The cheese is old and moldy. Where is the bathroom?" we could just say, "Behold, cramps, toilet!" Or perhaps applied to our theological arenas we could do away with the complex jargon altogether. Let us consider the quote so popular it should be a song title, "Calvin obviated all manner of subordinationism by giving full weight to the absolute equal ultimacy of each of the distinct hypostases of the ontological Trinity." This, in Hebrew-talk would simply be, "Behold, one God. Three."

We see this at work in other languages too. Check out my main man Snub-nosed's reflections on "All your Amos are belong to us". You'll have to excuse the randomness of this post: it's almost midnight, I've been studying Hebrew for way too long already and see no end in sight. Or, in Hebrew that last phrase would be "This substance time is 30 and 5 (minutes) upon new day. I have studied exceedingly greatly, (waw consecutive imperfect) I see little of completion yet."

Well, enough procrastinating...all my grade are belong to Dr. Enns.

10 comments:

Mark Traphagen said...

Unfortunately, as I woke up this morning the very first Hebrew to escape my lips was indeed, "Behold, cramps, toilet!!"

The only thing worse than finals week is finals week with a stomach bug. (Which being translated is, "Behold! Crap, exceedingly more crappish!"

Maybe you should do a side project of reducing systematic theologies down to their Hebrew equivalent. You could make Hodge's three volumes into a pocket paperback. And all of Turretin's Elenctic Theology could be reduced to: "Behold! We deny!"

Anonymous said...

I have a textual variant for "hineh" in this verse that, in transliteration, reads "boyashaka." It's supported by codices A, L, I, and G. I think the variant is a better reading.

Sam

Pete Enns said...

Mike, I'm glad you learned SOMETHING in Hebrew.

A Sojourner said...

Samwise - I've actually studied the etymology of "boyakasha" and find it fits better with the "na" suffix appended to imperatives...but then again Dr. Enns doesn't let us translate the "na's" so whatever.

and Dr. Enns, everything I "know" about Hebrew I got from you (oh, and I guess Sam too...he taught me what "my little" actually means...and Dieter, well he taught me a song, which is cool), you all have my eternal gratitude...or should i say, "You: thank eternal"

Sam said...

So, because I taught you what "my little means," and the fact that third semester is really just more practice with second semester which means that Pete is just saying everything I've already said, does this mean that I'm more awesome than Peter Enns? I think I've had this conversation somewhere else before, but I'm not sure if it's been resolved.

Anonymous said...

I believe the proper local dialect is "Yo! Dude, cool!" This is the funniest thing I've read in a week or more, and it's another reason I'm jealous of all you ANE linguists who have to the end of (your) days to meditate on these things.

Susan

A Sojourner said...

Yes, Sam, that's what it means. Just don't tell Pete (can I call him that yet?)

A Sojourner said...

Mark, I think we'd actually have to translate Turretin a little more long-windedly, perhaps, "Behold! We distinguish! Behold! You not say this. You not say this. You not say this. You not say this. You not say this. You say this. We deny"

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, you can't call him "Pete" yet. In fact, he wouldn't let me look at him directly until my second year (it's really difficult to hold your head in a slightly down-and-to-the-side positon for a whole year). It wasn't until SBL this year that I could call him "Pete." Before then, I was only allowed to speak when spoken to, and even then I only had three options for respose: "yes, sir," "no, sir," and "no excuse, sir" (mostly the latter). They use the same system at the Citadel and Naval Academy. Unfortunately, it meant also that I had very limited input in classroom discussions (given my sense of humor, probably a good thing).

Sam

Peter Enns said...

Oh guys, please. The only people required to call me Dr. Enns are my wife and kids. The rest of you may address me as Pete, followed by "blessed be his name forever" but then only walking 10 paces behind me. I'm really very approachable.