Saturday, December 10, 2016

Is Greek More Logical And Precise Than Hebrew?

The answer to the question is "No." I've got something on a similar issue here. Check it out. What prompted this post? Well, I came across a paragraph in an essay titled "Incarnation, Image, and Story: Toward a Postmodern Orthodoxy for Christian Educators" (Journal of Research on Christian Education 14:1 [Spring 2005]: 7–16) by Richard K. Wineland. Here it is:
"As people of the book, both Jews and Christians have enormous respect for their sacred writings. The typical Protestant seminarian spends a year each studying both ancient Hebrew and Koine, or 'Common' Greek. Except for a few passages in the book of Daniel that were originally written in Aramaic (sort of a linguistic first cousin to Hebrew), the entire Bible was written in either Hebrew or Greek. These particular languages not only determine word choice and sentence structure; they also reflect a way of thinking; about life, theology, about God, about worldview and, of course, faith. Greek, for instance, is a wonderfully precise, even logical language. There are literally dozens of different verb tenses. As a result, Greek thinkers (like St. Paul) tend to be very logical, precise, and definition oriented. The Apostle Paul was a devout Jew who no doubt read and spoke Hebrew, but he was also a highly educated Roman citizen, immersed in a Greek culture. Paul’s gifts to the nascent church include the book of Romans, the letters to the Corinthians, and his other epistles. They are indeed inspired doctrinal and theological works; but they do not make for very good storytelling!" (11)
Languages are not precise. Languages are not logical. Neither are they imprecise or illogical. The people who use languages may or may not be logical or imprecise. No, there are not literally dozens of tenses in Greek. And languages do not make people logical, precise, or definition oriented. Some people have heroes. And some people treat languages like heroes. In Christian circles, Greek is treated like none other. Greek is a beautiful language. I certainly enjoy it. But it's not better than other languages.

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