Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Hebrew Bible

Think most - if not all - of us have heard of the Bible. Perhaps had someone mention the Book or even quote several passages from it. Maybe you might even have read the first chapter in the Book of Genesis.

בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ.
ב  וְהָאָרֶץ, הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, וְחֹשֶׁךְ, עַל-פְּנֵי תְהוֹם; וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים, מְרַחֶפֶת עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם.
ג  וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, יְהִי אוֹר; וַיְהִי-אוֹר.

Even with several elementary years of poring through the Bible from cover to cover, I doubt I could tell you what the cryptic letters inscribed above are. Right there before you is what I gather to be the Hebrew version of the first lines in the Book of Genesis! Can't read it at all obviously though I might have some vague inkling on what it means from the translated English version of the Bible!

Which is surprisingly fortunate since it gave me an understanding - albeit a repeatedly translated one - of the Bible itself. Even then I would question each and every line presented to me since there's always a tad of unholy bias in every transcription of the verse. Lost in translation as it were.

Imagine then if I handed the book in Hebrew around to the other staunch believers? Would they just read it verbatim word for word without comprehending its hidden meaning? Or would they demand an explanation - if not an immediate translation?

So you can imagine my ... utter dumbfoundment in finding out that many of my friends have spent the past ten years in mandatory religious classes reciting verses from their own Holy Book without understanding a single word. Not a single word. Whatever little glimmer of understanding they glean from their classes is dutifully delivered by their overzealous cleric only.

With no room for discussion or deliberation.

Which I can hardly blame them since they wouldn't understand the very text that's written at all. Basically it's as if a Hebrew Bible had been handed over to me and all I could do was recite verbatim from it, faithfully memorizing line after line without understanding the exact meaning of the words behind them while my supposedly far more learned priests proclaim the religious significance to me.

Father : It's alright my son. This is all in the book.
Believer : Really, father?
Father : Hush, my child. Go down and genuflect as I taught you.

Didn't we leave all this behind during the Reformation?

I would certainly cry blasphemy. Merely chanting the verses without comprehending the true meaning would be far from what any of the prophets intended I'm sure! What's to stop any of the purportedly well-meaning clerics from misrepresenting what's being written in the books?


Momel said...

What's to stop any of the purportedly well-meaning clerics from misrepresenting what's being written in the books?

I would imagine a steamy night of sodomy in the convent dormitories for some of them.

Don Devlin said...

This is an easily solved issue...Let them marry.