Slow and Steady

November 8, 2011


So, the new Twilight movie is coming out soon. It looks like an Oscar-winner, just like the last three. Actually, I didn’t see the last one. I couldn’t take the screaming teenagers and the poor acting any longer. I just couldn’t, you guys. I blogged about seeing the first one (so very long ago!), and it was quite the experience in how to create a vampire for a movie (just add baby powder and glitter).

For reals?

So, I kind of want to read through the Old Testament. Since that’s my degree, I figure I should maybe get a little refresher in what it says. I started the other day in Genesis and I read two chapters. It didn’t go that well. I finished the chapters and realized I had no clue what I’d just read. I mean, I kind of did, since I know the first two chapters of Genesis are about God creating lots of stuff. But I hadn’t really soaked up anything. I had just read the text so I could say I had read two chapters.

For the last two years, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Bible. Most of that time has been very slow. Very intimate. I’ve written two-year’s worth of curriculum in the last couple of years, and for each lesson, I would read a passage and pick it apart. I would stop at each verse, pausing to see what it told me about God and his character. I would research the background of what was going on in that verse, that chapter, that book. I would go through the text verse-by-verse, thinking of questions to ask kids about what the text was saying, what it was teaching us about God’s attributes. I wrote devotions for leaders, forcing me to look at the text from my own perspective, asking myself when I have acted rebellious like Israel or unforgiving like Jonah.

I didn’t think there was a way to go more slowly through a text than writing Sunday school lessons, but there is.

It’s called Hebrew.

When you have to try reading the Bible in its original language, you get very warm and snuggly with the text. For example, it took me over an hour to read and translate ten verses yesterday. And I was pretty pleased with how quickly it went.

When learning Hebrew, I’m forced to go through God’s text word-by-word. I often have to look words up, find out all the different uses and decide on its best definition in the context of the chapter I’m working on. I’ve learned why certain words in Hebrew are so significant, and I’ve realized that our English translations can’t fully do them justice. I translated the creation of woman (Genesis 2) last year, and it was beautiful, you guys. The image of God fashioning, building, creating someone who corresponds to Adam is gorgeous and intimate. (p.s. the word “helper” in the Hebrew is only elsewhere used to describe the help of God and armies. There doesn’t seem to be any way to make it into a derogatory, lesser-than description of woman’s role.) This story deserves to be read slowly and with rapt attention.

That’s right. I said rapt.

Anyway, as I was reading my chapters in Genesis the other day, I realized that my work over the last couple of years has changed the way I read and interact with the Bible. And I like it. I may not be a fast Bible reader anymore — I doubt I’ll get through it in a year — but that’s OK. I’ve learned to read it much more closely and with a greater appreciation for each chapter, each verse, each word.

OK, y’all. Gots to go. Read a couple of verses today. Slowly. You’ll like it.


2 Responses to “Slow and Steady”

  1. Ok, now I really want to learn Hebrew!

    Speaking of translations, I was reading up about Tyndale the other day. Unlike Wycliffe before him, Tyndale went back to the original Hebrew text for his translation (Wycliffe did it mainly from the Latin), whereupon he discovered that (and correct me if I’m wrong here), whereas Latin is a very noun-based language, Hebrew is very verb-based. So to get a better translation he used a lot of anglo-saxon words that had almost disappeared from use here in England by that time; and he completely invented the word ‘righteousness’. Isn’t that cool?

  2. denisemorris said

    LGR — super interesting! Hebrew is very verb-based, so that makes sense. I’d love to hear how he came up with “righteousness.” It’s all so fascinating when you start to look into it!

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