[b-hebrew] Hebrew language and thought forms, was: "Desire of Women" in Heb. Text of Dan. 11:37

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Nov 20 14:06:31 EST 2006


On 11/20/06, Bryant J. Williams III <bjwvmw at com-pair.net> wrote:
> Dear Karl & Peter,
> Please give examples.
> Rev. Bryant J. Williams III

Probably the easiest would be to give examples in English.

The sentence, "He is evil" can be understood two different ways, even
in English.

If one follows the thought pattern used by the ancient Greek
philosophers, "evil" would be considered an intrinsic and immutable
part of the person.

However, because of the influence of the Bible and the Reformation on
English thought, "is" can be understood in an activist sense,
referring to the actions the person does, actions that the person can

Another example is the famous Japanese koan, "You've heard the sound
of two hands clapping, what is the sound of one hand clapping?" From
the ancient Greek view, they look at the form of the hand doing the
clapping, while the activist thinking sees the action of the clapping,
which is when two surfaces strike and they don't have to be hands.
Thus the koan is a nonsense statement, as one surface cannot clap.

When we look at Biblical Hebrew, we find an activist choice of terms
and vocabulary usage. Even the verb "to be" is widely recognized as
referring to activity such as becoming or doing. Because of the
commonality of activist understanding in usage, we perceive that it
would be difficult but not impossible for a person living in that
society to conceive and express ideas consistent with ancient Greek
philosophy. However, that difficulty we perceive could stem from the
fact that we have extant only a subset of the ancient Hebrew language,
that the ancients may have had an easier time expressing other modes
of thought than we can conceive of.

What both Peter and I recognize is that the
functional-activist-historical thinking is not intrinsic to ancient
Hebrew language itself, rather to the use of the language in contrast
to those who would say that languages intrinsically communicate
certain ideas and cannot communicate other ideas.

Does this help?

Karl W. Randolph.

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