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Why are the scriptures not considered more important in our church services?

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  • Why are the scriptures not considered more important in our church services?

    I've recently come across the views of a guy who thinks the scriptures should always be read in their original languages in church services and then the lector should make his or her own translation (prepared or spontaneously) for the given congregation at the given time in order to allow the word of God to speak to the congregation as directly and as spontaneously as possible. I really like this view! It combines the importance of the literal original text with the high value, however fleeting and transitory, of dynamic equivalence translations. This would also require, and encourage, our lectors to be well trained in the original languages and sensitive to the activity of the Spirit in local communities. Most would consider this highly unrealistic, of course, but I really like this idea.

    Have others come across this idea or practice? Origin? Thoughts?

    I know that in some Orthodox churches, the scriptures are still read in Greek, and I like that, of course, but I'm not sure if this is commonly followed by dynamic equivalent translations or if any importance is given to the Hebrew and Aramaic scriptures.

    Obviously, religious book publishers may not enthusiastically support this idea, but there's nothing stopping them from publishing more educational books about Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. But how would they make such books more popular if our pastors do not encourage the importance of the scriptures?

    I don't think there's a forum for liturgical practice or church services, so I'm not sure where this thread belongs, but I do not want to relegate it to biblical languages because most believers ignore the importance of language study.
    Last edited by robrecht; 03-09-2014, 09:07 AM.
    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

  • #2
    Originally posted by robrecht View Post
    most believers ignore the importance of language study.
    Well, there's your answer. For the public reading of Scripture in the original language to work, the audience must be able to understand it. But they generally won't, so it won't work.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Paprika View Post
      Well, there's your answer. For the public reading of Scripture in the original language to work, the audience must be able to understand it. But they generally won't, so it won't work.
      But this view also requires dynamic equivalence translation during the service. It has worked quite well with 6th graders in my Sunday school classes. It works in synagogue services. Why should we value our scriptures any less?
      βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
      ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

      אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by robrecht View Post
        But this view also requires dynamic equivalence translation during the service. It has worked quite well with 6th graders in my Sunday school classes. It works in synagogue services. Why should we value our scriptures any less?
        I can probably list some of the reasons most people would give in answer to the question, but to me they don't really make any sense. Really, the rampant anti-intellectualism just doesn't make any sense. I love the idea; in a discussion with a friend I've proposed Scripture reading in the original languages though the lector making dynamic translation is something I didn't consider, but I think we would agree that such an idea would face quite some opposition by people in our own churches and western churches in general.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Paprika View Post
          I can probably list some of the reasons most people would give in answer to the question, but to me they don't really make any sense. Really, the rampant anti-intellectualism just doesn't make any sense. I love the idea; in a discussion with a friend I've proposed Scripture reading in the original languages though the lector making dynamic translation is something I didn't consider, but I think we would agree that such an idea would face quite some opposition by people in our own churches and western churches in general.
          Sadly, yes, but the churches should be leaven in society, encouraging a commitment to learning and our pastors should lead the way. I suspect we need better seminary professors.
          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

          Comment


          • #6
            By the way, how do you use the original languages in your classes? How do the kids react?

            Comment


            • #7
              I start out by playing a recording of someone speaking a foreign language and asking if anyone understands. This works better when some(one) in the class are bilingual. Then I read the scriptures in the original language and interpret to the best of my ability. The kids love seeing the original language texts and I have them look very closely at their translations and encourage them to ask as many questions as possible about anything that seems strange to them. I resist the temptation to answer these questions, except with more questions. I have them draw pictures of each day of creation until they notice some differences between Genesis chapters 1& 2. We look at imaginative midrashim that have focused on some of their questions for thousands of years. Sometimes we make fun of what the priest or other teachers or parents have said and we ask them, very respectively of course, how they interpret some difficulty we have discovered in class. When they question me, I know they've started to read and question on their own. Everyone must learn the Hebrew alphabet and some will memorize verses in Hebrew, which they then get to recite for the whole congregation. It's a lot of fun.
              βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
              ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

              אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                I can probably list some of the reasons most people would give in answer to the question, but to me they don't really make any sense. Really, the rampant anti-intellectualism just doesn't make any sense. I love the idea; in a discussion with a friend I've proposed Scripture reading in the original languages though the lector making dynamic translation is something I didn't consider, but I think we would agree that such an idea would face quite some opposition by people in our own churches and western churches in general.
                While I agree that anti-intellectualism is rampant in the church, I don't think the lack of quoting scripture in its original language is a sign of that. Some pastors preach in a spontaneous type of flow, and stopping to read a language in the Greek or Hebrew could interrupt that flow. I've seen plenty of pastors who will break a word or two down into the Greek, and explain what that Greek word means, but doing so for lengthy passages could get tedious for the congregation after awhile. One of the greatest successes of the Reformation was allowing laymen to understand the Bible in their own language, and I can't think of any good reason to break down every passage into Hebrew and Greek if the English translations imparts the correct meaning. Most pastors don't know Hebrew or Greek anyways, and may not have the time or resources to learn.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                  I can probably list some of the reasons most people would give in answer to the question, but to me they don't really make any sense. Really, the rampant anti-intellectualism just doesn't make any sense. I love the idea; in a discussion with a friend I've proposed Scripture reading in the original languages though the lector making dynamic translation is something I didn't consider, but I think we would agree that such an idea would face quite some opposition by people in our own churches and western churches in general.
                  If it's a good idea (if), I say it should be forced. People might hate it at first, but they'll either eventually come to love it, or be indifferent, or apathetic to getting rid of it. So long as the forced practice is widespread enough that they can't escape it.

                  Course, I'd be happy if more of the Scripture, in English, was simply read aloud to the congregation (not during the sermon), as opposed to expecting people to read it in their off time. Especially the reading of the Old Testament. I've only been to one Protestant church, a Lutheran church, that did this. Most others either didn't read the Scriptures, read only what was pertinent to the preacher's sermon, or only read from the New Testament (and if I was at said churches long enough, I'm quick to bet that none of the hard passages of the New Testament would ever come up).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Just Some Dude View Post
                    Course, I'd be happy if more of the Scripture, in English, was simply read aloud to the congregation (not during the sermon), as opposed to expecting people to read it in their off time. Especially the reading of the Old Testament. I've only been to one Protestant church, a Lutheran church, that did this. Most others either didn't read the Scriptures, read only what was pertinent to the preacher's sermon, or only read from the New Testament (and if I was at said churches long enough, I'm quick to bet that none of the hard passages of the New Testament would ever come up).
                    Interesting, I just assumed that common Protestant practice was the same as catholic and Anglican/Episcopal practice with respect to the reading of the scriptures in church services. We always have a reading from the 'Old Testament', from the epistles, and from the gospels. These readings are from an official lectionary and not the choice of the priest or deacon who then gives a homily that is based on those readings. Only during weddings and funerals are readings chosen specifically by the pastor, couple, or family.
                    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by OingoBoingo View Post
                      While I agree that anti-intellectualism is rampant in the church, I don't think the lack of quoting scripture in its original language is a sign of that.
                      The idea isn't about quoting the original languages, but to do the Scriptural readings in both the original and the layman's language.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Robrecht: Your classes sound awesome!

                        Originally posted by Just Some Dude View Post
                        If it's a good idea (if), I say it should be forced. People might hate it at first, but they'll either eventually come to love it, or be indifferent, or apathetic to getting rid of it. So long as the forced practice is widespread enough that they can't escape it.
                        Agreed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                          The idea isn't about quoting the original languages, but to do the Scriptural readings in both the original and the layman's language.
                          Why? Seems redundant, maybe even a little show-offy. How is it going to edify anyone to read the scriptures in a language they don't know if all you're going to do is reread them in a language they do know. If you're going to expand on the translation, break down the Greek or Hebrew into its roots for some of the words, that's one thing, but you can't do that for long passages across an entire sermon for every sermon. That'd bore the bejeezus out of people, and it wouldn't serve any more purpose than just explaining what the passage means without reading Greek/Hebrew.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                            Interesting, I just assumed that common Protestant practice was the same as catholic and Anglican/Episcopal practice with respect to the reading of the scriptures in church services. We always have a reading from the 'Old Testament', from the epistles, and from the gospels. These readings are from an official lectionary and not the choice of the priest or deacon who then gives a homily that is based on those readings. Only during weddings and funerals are readings chosen specifically by the pastor, couple, or family.
                            It probably depends on the type of Protestant service you attend. I've attended some Protestant services where I honestly can't remember if scripture was read once, but I've also been to plenty of services where plenty of old and new were read out, explained, Greek and Hebrew words broken down, notes were being taken by the congregation, etc. I've taken Catholics to some of the Protestant services I attended and they were blown away. Thought it was more like a college course than a sermon.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OingoBoingo View Post
                              Why? Seems redundant, maybe even a little show-offy. How is it going to edify anyone to read the scriptures in a language they don't know if all you're going to do is reread them in a language they do know. If you're going to expand on the translation, break down the Greek or Hebrew into its roots for some of the words, that's one thing, but you can't do that for long passages across an entire sermon for every sermon. That'd bore the bejeezus out of people, and it wouldn't serve any more purpose than just explaining what the passage means without reading Greek/Hebrew.
                              Robrecht probably has his own reasons, but here are mine: firstly, there are people who know the original languages who will be edified by such a reading. Secondly, it challenges and motivates the congregation to learn the original languages.

                              Comment

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