[b-hebrew] Hebrew language and thought forms

davidfentonism at aim.com davidfentonism at aim.com
Wed Nov 22 17:02:25 EST 2006

  Yes, Peter, I agree with your points here in the main. But, relative to the biblical text we are always discusing a fixed period of time (when the texts were written). I am at a tremendous disadvantage here as a non-Hebrew/non-Greek speaker. Notwithstanding, "daughter of Zion" and other idioms don't have to be live today to convey their contextual meaning(s). 
 -----Original Message-----
 From: peter at qaya.org
  On 20/11/2006 01:38, davidfentonism at aim.com wrote: 
 > I think the notion that thought bears no direct relationship to language is inaccurate. Hebrew thoughtforms are directly linked to its language units. This is not always the case with greek because of its propensity for abstractions. However, in Hebrew, thoughtforms/language is tied to instances or things existing in reality (e.g., the idea of stiffneckedness like an ox). 
 > > I will try to stick to matters of Hebrew language in replying here, and avoid being distracted into comparative philosophy. 
 I agree that "the notion that thought bears NO direct relationship to language is inaccurate", with the emphasis which I have added. But the strength and directness of that relationship has often been greatly overstated. 
 Of course all languages, including Greek, use words derived from metaphors like "stiff-necked". But at this point we need to consider in what sense this kind of metaphorical language "is tied to instances or things existing in reality". In general this kind of language starts with metaphors or poetic imagery, and at that point there is a real tie to real things. An example of this, similar to your "stiff-necked" one, might be Psalm 32:9. But these kinds of metaphors can and do become fixed expressions or idioms, dead metaphors, which then lose their tie to real things. Thus in English at least people today can speak of unbridled passions without even knowing what a literal bridle is. There are similar idioms in English based on obsolete items and customs which are understood literally only by specialists, but are in everyday use as idioms. And the same is true in every language. 
 In biblical Hebrew, we don't always know which metaphors are alive and which are dead, but it is highly improbable that every metaphor is fully alive and so "tied to instances or things existing in reality" as you suggest. Certainly there are so many idioms with "son of" and "daughter of" that expressions like "daughter of Zion" cannot be taken as live metaphors. Another clear example of a probably dead metaphors is the use of 'APPAYIM and HARON 'AP for "anger". Now this clearly started at some stage as a metaphor, snorting from the nose representing anger. But over centuries, probably, these words simply became normal ways of talking about "anger". It would be quite wrong to imply from the use of these words that Hebrew thinking about anger was tied to the existence of or conscious thinking about noses. 
 -- Peter Kirk 
 E-mail: peter at qaya.org 
 Blog: http://speakertruth.blogspot.com/ 
 Website: http://www.qaya.org/ 
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