1.26.2006

Semantics and the study of God's Word

















The following is a quote from Leon Kass. It shows in short order how the language employed by mankind concerning parents and child has changed over the centuries. As the language has changed so has the worldview. It is instructive for us in our current discussion in that it helpfully lead us to take stock of what language we employ and see if that is the language that God's Word employs.

Consider the views of life and the world reflected in the following different expressions to describe the process of generating new life. Ancient Israel, impressed with the phenomenon of stransmission of life from father to son, used a word we translate as "begetting" or "siring." The Greeks, impressed with the springing forth of new life in the cyclical processes of generation and decay, called it genesis, from a root meaning "to come into being." ... The premodern Christian English-speaking world, impressed with the world as given by a Creator, used the term "pro-creation." We, impressed with the machine and the gross national product (our own work of creation), employ a metaphor of the factory, "re-production."

Leon R. Kass, M.D., Toward a More Natural Science (New York: The Free Press, 1985), p. 48.

8 comments:

Caspar said...

That is an extremely important point, Pr. Rufner. Today at Confessions study we were talking about this very thing. Our postmodern language has changed our worldview. It is terribly difficult for us to escape the semantics of postmodernism, but do so we must if we are to discern the meaning of God's Word.

Language is so cultural, or so I learned in my senior level linguistics course in college 23 years ago. Language is spoken and heard according to the worldview of each perspective. Words carry a lot of baggage.

Thank you for emphasizing this point.

Caspar

Devona said...

That was a wonderful quote. I'll be chewing on that for days.

I'm fact I think that I'm going to steal it and post it at Love and Blunder.

Tina said...

Another couple of examples--our culture refers to sterilization as "getting fixed", thereby implying the natural fertile state is 'broken'; pregnancy is touted as one of the "dangers" of unsafe/unprotected sex, and ranks right up there with an std as something to protect yourself from.

Eric Phillips said...

I haven't heard "getting fixed" used except for pets.

Caspar said...

Eric, do you live in a cave?

Eric Phillips said...

Nope, I live on Capitol Hill. It's hard to get less cavey, I think.

Caspar said...

I understand the problem now. People there are too highbrow to use a term like "getting fixed."

They'd probably call it "engaging in a permanent reproductive filibuster."

Capitol Hill may not be cavey, but you can't get more isolated.

Caspar

Eric Phillips said...

Heheh.