Monday, March 01, 2004

I'm one lingering history paper away from being 3/4 done with the year. I have had a few epiphanies lately that were really quite wonderful, mostly having to do with my ability to read rabbinic and Biblical Hebrew -- I'm no whiz kid yet, but it's coming along steadily.

I think I took one entry in last year's journal to rave about reading the Bible in Hebrew, so I'll try to restrain myself a bit this time, but oh, it is fabulous to be able to read without the filter of a translation! I am learning so much from our Bible teacher about how to read, too, how to get deeper into the text. For instance, I'm working now on a translation/exegesis of the end of the book of Genesis, the death narrative of Joseph. There's an episode near the end, where the brothers worry that Joseph is going to take revenge, now that Jacob is dead, and they talk among themselves. In most English translations, they just sound worried. In the Hebrew, the choice of the words gives not only the meaning -- worried about retribution for their behavior -- but a connotation that they are still not really sorry, that they still think Joseph deserved to be sold into slavery! It puts an entirely different spin on the whole episode, and on Joseph's response.

I'm enjoying Bible so much that I'm dusting off my 20-years-neglected Greek in order to be able to use the Septuagint. Fortunately, I find that I never really forget much -- it's just a matter of scraping off the rust, applying a bit of oil, and not being embarrassed to let it creak in public.

So it goes.

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