Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hebrew vs. Greek

Hebrew & Greek are two classic languages and two classic cultures that can be described as polar opposites of each other.  In preparation for vocational ministry, pastors, leaders and teachers are often invited to study one, if not both of these languages in depth during an under-grad or masters level education.

Here are some of the differences in language that I am aware of.  Hebrew is written right to left, while Greek is written left to right.  Hebrew is referred to as a guttural language.  It takes years to master in terms of speaking.  Greek is difficult, but far less so.  The modern English language has more similarities with Greek than with Hebrew...many of our words have Greek roots (also Latin), but very few (if any) have Hebrew heritage!  Hebrew is the language of the Old Testament while Greek is that of the New Testament (in the Bible).

The differences do not stop there.  There are significant cultural differences between Hebrew and Greek also.  The one that has really sparked my interest in the style of learning in these two cultures.  The Greek style of learning begins with an intellectual premise.  The goal of learning using the Greek mindset is to accumulate more information or head knowledge.  In contrast, learning in the Hebrew culture is the polar opposite.  Learning in the Hebrew way focuses on action more than information.  Learning is therefore formed by doing and occurs as a response to experience.

This difference in learning is so key in understanding what it truly means to love God and love others.  Approaching this concept from a Greek mentality would mean simply gathering more information about this exercise, but not necessarily putting much, if any, of it into practice.  On the other hand, using the Hebrew understanding and methodology for learning, the emphasis becomes more focused on the putting into practice or the demonstration of truth rather than the intellectual interaction with knowledge.  In our modern society, we have adopted the Greek method of learning in a wider scope than that of the Hebrew culture.  Our educational system focuses on the gathering of information, but not necessarily the application of this information.  This style of learning has also filtered its' way into church as well.  The focus of church has become the sermon or the moment of time where the community gathering listens to the oration of one (or possibly more) individual regarding the biblical text.  The focus has become on the gathering of information, or proclamation rather than the demonstration of said information.

There is a buzz word that is floating around in the educational system right now called experiential learning.  This style of learning adopts the Hebrew mindset of needing to experience truth before being able to learn about what it really is.  In our world to date, we have shifted from Hebrew to Greek in our approach to learning and we are now seeing the pendulum swing back to focus more on the demonstration approach.  But, for the most accurate learning experience there must be a balance between both the proclamation (Greek) and the demonstration (Hebrew) in any learning environment.

What this means is quite simple.  My children need to learn that I love them by not only hearing me say it, but also seeing me demonstrate it.  In this same way, our world needs to see that Christ does indeed make a difference in the lives of His followers by not only hearing us say it, but by also seeing us live it.  I call this approach to learning the Grebhew style...a combination of both the Hebrew and Greek classic forms of learning for the purpose of obtaining a more focused and wholistic learning experience.

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A Little Something from Psalm 8

 Had a lot of fun with this one.