[b-hebrew] Genesis 31: 47: What Foreign Language Is That?

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Mon Nov 26 15:26:37 EST 2007

Dr. Lehmann,

I am a layman; albeit with 5 yrs formal Hebrew training under Drs. Richard
Patterson and Herman Austel. I do find that the list is especially helpful when
discussing these issues. Yes, it is tiresome at times when assertions are made
that cannot be proven or that assumptions are made that do not reflect the
Hebrew text/language as we have it.

We all make assumption and I am just as guilty as the rest on this list. The
recent discussion on Ecclesiastes 3:11 was one that really helped in eliminating
some assumptions/theories, but generated some others. As a layman having contact
with others who have knowledge of the Hebrew and her sister languages better
than myself is really helpful. In fact, there are some laymen whose knowledge of
Hebrew seems to be much better than those with acknowledged credentials. True, I
may disagree with some of their conclusions regarding authorship, early/late
date of Exodus, etc., but all in all, it is good to hear the other side of the

As of now, I do hope that you do not unsubscribe. I tend to think that some one
of your stature, knowledge and experience will be able to elevate the
debate/argument to another level by showing us, i.e. layman, the proper means of
presenting an argument, using appropriate first-hand and second-hand
documentation, etc. In the long term, this will greatly elevate the learning and
knowledge level of all.

An example taken from basketball officiating will probably suffice. I have been
officiating Junior High School, High School and Adult level basketball for 22
years. What has greatly helped in the officiating association that I have been
with for the past 12 years is the attitude that the senior varsity officials
also officiate the lower level games. This gives the lower level officials the
opportunity to officiate with some one who is more experience in knowledge,
mechanics and judgement in the effective use and applications of that rules of
the game of basketball. This improves every persons performance, because the
senior officials have to perform like they are supposed to and the lower level
officials get to participate in that performance elevating the entire
association. This is borne out by the comments of fans, players, coaches and
administrators. What is interesting in the discussions is the amount of "literal
hermeneutics" that is required to be used by the officials. This means that each
official reads the rules and their definitions, the intent of the rule, the
case-plays giving examples of situations that have occurred and the proper
application of applicable rules. Sometimes the difference lies in the use or
non-use of the article, good-old fashion COMMON-SENSE, punctuation, etc. I am
frequently involved in these issues because of the background I have in proper
exegetical methods, etc. (Most of those in the association do not realize that
they are using the art and science of interpretation, but go that is what is
going on in the non-believing world). Thus, in the long term every official in
the association will be on the SAME PAGE when it comes time to officiate that
game. One final comment. Officiating at the lower levels also involves letting
slide some applications of the rules with respect to traveling, etc., but not on
others, fouls. This is because of the level of experience and knowledge of the
game. The sixth grade game is officiated a little more loosely than the seventh
grade game than the eighth grade game. Starting at the High School level, it
really tightens up. Travel is called really tight. Fouls are called even

Thus, in the scholarly level discussions. Layman really need to learn the
scholarly level discourse, but the scholarly level discussion should not be so
far into the technical realm that it looses everybody. Definitions must be
precise. Sources must be quoted in context and conclusions must be also be
precise and acknowledged when speculative. Sources should also be acknowledge
when they are correct and when they are wrong. This is honest scholarly inquiry
and intellectually honest.

Thank you,

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Reinhard G. Lehmann" <lehmann at uni-mainz.de>
To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2007 11:31 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Genesis 31: 47: What Foreign Language Is That?

> If it continues discussing philological nonsense without any working
> knowledge of adjacent northwest semitic languages by people without
> scholarly training, I will unsubscribe this list.
> Dr. Reinhard G. Lehmann
> Academic Director
> Resarch Unit on Ancient Hebrew & Epigraphy
> Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
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