The clue to the impact made by this volume of the Norwegian Thorleif Boman is the number of editions, -- three German and Jules Laurence Moreau. The book is another in the valuable series known as The Library of History and Doctrine. The Greeks and the Hebrews thought differently, used words differently, and had diverse views about relationships with each other and with God.
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Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek. Jules L. New York: Norton, Lots of thoughts were running through my mind after reading it. This is odd in a way—the analysis of real oral tradition was done thoroughly beginning in the s with Milman Parry and his student Albert Lord.
It seems that no theologians know about this, so they keep passing on bad information to the next generation. Basically, his book is saying that Hebrew thought is dynamic, most words are rooted in verbs, and there is always of sense of becoming and of history having scope. He shows that Hebrew thought and language is more time-oriented and active.
Greek thought, which is more typical of the West, is more static and spatial. Even the way Greeks viewed history—more analytically and less purposefully—is different. Understanding both streams of thought helps us understand both Testaments of the Bible, as well as something of our own language and cultural perspective.
In Hebrew even the verb to be, hayah, is dynamic. It has a passive voice! Do any Indo-European languages have a passive voice for to be? Russian does the same thing. The significance of the verb to be is lost in Modern English, but in Old English pre there were actually two verbs to be: bion and wesan.
Wesan did not even have a past participle. Interestingly, too, in Old English become was more active, really be in the old sense plus come and is usually translated come or is coming when rendered in Modern English. Hebrew descriptions are active. Those are not physical descriptions, Boman tells us, but rather descriptions of actions and moral qualities. The hair suggests not so much physical beauty, but the actions and care given by a shepherdess.
The tower suggests moral strength and purity. The Hebrew view of history and character is personal and moral. Greek descriptions are more specific and physical, perceived with all the senses. The Greek sense of time also is secondary to the perception of space. Space is more important than time.
It is the opposite from the Hebrew perspective. Time to the Greek is noted by movements. Time is linear, sometimes cyclic, but man is almost detached from it. The Greek sense sees man detached from the gods and therefore fatalistically detached from history.
Time to the Hebrew is based on rhythmic patterns, it is neither linear nor cyclic. Time is historical, and man is part of it, and God is behind it. God is not only transcendent and immanent, but Boman calls Him transparent, revealing Himself through who He is by His deeds.
The key deed, of course, in the Hebrew Scriptures is the Exodus. Boman summarizes simply by saying in effect, Hebrew emphasizes psychology more, while Greek is more logical and visual. Bradford compared the Mayflower crossing to the Exodus. After all, our ancestors and founders were some of those Pilgrims and saints.
Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek
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