[B-Greek] Analysis and Fluency (Part 1 of 14)
lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 24 10:16:11 EDT 2010
It's not enough to say "Analysis bad" and "Fluency good." I can't say that because I am an Analysis
junkie. I over-analyze everything, not just Greek. I can't even stop analyzing Analysis.
But I also know this undeniable truth, applied not just to Greek but to anything that involves reality and reflection. It's
expressed in different ways:
1. Map is not Territory.
2. The Tao that can be talked about is not the real Tao.
3. My mother taught me to talk, and yet she does not own
a dictionary. I grew up eating her food, and yet we never had a cookbook.
4. HAMLET: "Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me!
You would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the heart
of my mystery, you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass; and
there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood,
do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will,
though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me."
But Rosencrantz and Guiderstern were just doing their jobs. We need people
like them. We need Analyzers and we need Metalanguages.
I ask people like Wallace and Hoyle for their help in understanding the Greek NT. I demand my Analysis fix.
And when they go a little overboard in their Analysis, when they pluck out the heart of Paul's mystery,
when they give me a little too much map with the territory, I make fun of them. No more.
I have nothing to add to this discussion. Except my life. Except my life. Except my life.
I speak only for myself. I learned one Metalanguage.
It got me to the edge of Fluency. Now is not the time to learn another. Now, if I am to be
fluent, I must FORGET my first Metalanguage. I must not ask "what kind of Genitive is that?"
I must not, Lord knows, try to figure out HOW a Genitive works. I speak only for myself.
Now I must STOP noticing things when I read Greek. I must STOP Discourse Analysis.
I must at best FEEL particles; certainly I must stop seeing them. Because there is only one kind of
Genitive. And there is no Genitive, only genitives. And there are no genitives, there is only Homer
and Paul. I believe that meaning in Greek can go directly
into my soul--I speak only for myself--only if I stop the Analysis. It has taken me four years, but
I now understand what "Decoding" means. I used to think "Decoding" means thinking in English
when you read Greek. It's far more insidious than that. "Decoding" is thinking not in your
native language while you read Greek, but, what is far worse, thinking in your Metalanguage while
you read Greek. That is ultimately my problem with NT Greek Linguistics. It is another Metalanguage
I need to forget in order to obtain Fluency. Better not to learn it in the first place, for me, anyway.
I understand that Greek is harder than Spanish. But these Metalanguages we learn make it harder,
not easier. And I don't care what anybody says, but no one who speaks English would do to Shakespeare what Hoyle
and Wallace do to Paul.
But there needs no ghost, Lightman, come from the grave to tell us this. You accuse NT Greek
Linguists of going on and on about stuff that is just obvious, but what are you doing? Have you said
anything new here? I agree it is better to read Greek than talk about it. But what are you doing?
Talking about talking about Greek. The soup of the soup of the soup. Plus your attitude is disturbingly
unscientific and Romantic. If everybody was like you, knowledge of Greek and Language in general
would be frozen. We would understand these things no better than Homer or Paul. Where would we
<Mark may want to throw away lexica and grammatical reference works and continue to pooh-pooh the utility
or relevance of Linguists working in Biblical Greek, but others may be inclined to think
this is going down a blind alley.>
And we may both be right, which I think was your point. But don't you see, Carl, that for me--I speak
only for myself--I NEED to go down that alley blind? That's exactly it; I need to STOP seeing all these
Analytic abstractions so I can BE Fluent. Remember how Odysseus got home? The Sirens promised
to give him all sorts of analytic insights into what REALLY happened at Troy. They wanted to make him
smarter, PLEIONA EIDWS. Odysseus himself, like me, was an Analysis junkie. He would have loved to
stop and chat and learn a new Metalanguage or two. But he had to get home to Ithica. So what did he do?
He tied himself to the mast and put wax in everyone's ears. They rowed on and he got home.
I need to get home. Sometimes I think to obtain Fluency the best tool you need is not BDAG or
Levinsohl but wax in your ears, eyes wide shut, a determination to row/read on until you get home.
At the end of Star Wars. Luke had to turn his instruments off in order to kill the Death Star. To this
extent, we all need to throw away our lexica at some point. That's all I'm saying, and I know you agree.
Analysis is to Fluency as mayonnaise is to egg salad. You need a little mayonnaise for the egg salad to
be good; too much mayonnaise and the egg salad is hard to eat. But tastes differ. Most of us feel that
if a Metalanguage is to be nasty and brutish, it should at least be short. Most of us feel that Hoyle and
Wallace have a little too much mayonnaise, but even here there is no accounting for taste. I know a guy
who eats plain mayonnaise. I really do. Jars of the stuff. Elizabeth and Yancy like Hoyle, Eddie likes
Wallace. I'm down with that.
Tastes differ. Not everyone likes the Top Ten Lists. Not everyone? Does, ANYONE, Lightman?
And what happened to your New Year's Resolution to make your posts shorter?
My mother makes the perfect egg salad.
"Mom, this egg salad is fantastic. What's in it?"
"Egg, mayonnaise. A little salt."
"But how much mayonnaise? What kind do you use? How do you get the texture so fluent?"
"What am I, Betty Crocker? You want a recipe? It's egg salad. Who asks such questions? Here, eat some more."
I spent twenty years in Analysis trying to figure her out. I learned nothing. She remains the dark continent. But
you know, in a sick sort of way, those were a great twenty years. I only remember one thing the Analyst said:
"You'll understand your mother a little better when your son gets a little older."
So, we're reading Hebrews, my son and I.
"Dad, what kind of Genitive is this?"
"Genitive, Schmenitive," I hear myself saying. "It is what it is. It means what it means. Who asks such questions?
Here, eat some more egg salad."
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