This Sunday and beginning this month-I will be teaching a class at church called “Biblical Words with Bazinga.” Yes-I did it! It is meant to be a class that looks at the original meaning of words and demonstrates how they may enhance our faith. Here is a snidbit of what is to come. If you want to check me out–I’m at Messiah Lutheran Church on Tuesday nights at 7pm and tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 2nd at the adult forum at 9a after first service.
Now, before I get too deep into my topic, I do want to introduce myself a little and hopefully give myself some credibility. I am a Anaheim native who grew up with a deep desire for languages. Before I got to Jr. High and High school, i was planning out what languages I wanted to learn. Growing up in a methodist church that had a relationship with a Jewish synagogue encouraged a curiosity for Hebrew. I remember asking my mom what the characters on the wall were when I was young. She explained that Jewish people knew hebrew, and that things on the wall were written in that language. Well–I figured since Jewish people were like Christian, it couldn’t hurt to want to know Hebrew, right? Honest–I even asked my mom if I could go to Hebrew school. I told this to a Jewish person once and he cracked up because all he could do was to try & come up with reasons NOT to go when he was young.
When I entered high school, I originally had chosen German to study (since that’s my heritage) but our school dropped the program so I was forced to learn Spanish. Some of my friends learned Japanese (Anime-Japanese comic art was big in my high school) which sparked my interest in looking at things I was not familiar with. Then I went to college and heaven forbidden LATIN was available. I personally thought everyone should learn Latin liked they did when my mom was young–I know it helped with grammar and syntax along with understanding the root for Romance languages, which included spanish, french, Portuguese and the like. While I was taking latin, I got a sudden urge to study theology. Once I figured there was a degree in studying religion and God and everything related to that, I was full force. I grew up in church, loved church and was excited that it was an academic field of study. I know, I’m crazy. But I guess God has something planned for it all–we’ll see. My junior year, though not required to take anymore languages–our biblical studies department offered HEBREW! I was so excited-I even studied from England while I was abroad. My last year I also took Russian. Why? Because my dad had tried to learn Russian for work with his involvement with the NASA shuttle program and I always remember seeing the dictionary on my bedroom shelf in the “old” books pile.
Currently I have moved onto a Master Degree from Fuller Seminary in theology with a biblical studies emphasis. I have since taken Greek, tried to teach myself German and Italian, made it a bucket-list goal to learn some eastern asian language (probably Korean) and feel I am being called to dispense this chunk of knowledge somewhere. I have always felt that language-how we say, what we say & the different ways we have to say things–always expand our understanding of our world and especially our understanding of our faith. As you will see, there are several words in the Bible that in their original languages provide a much greater definition of certain faith concepts than the English allows us to permit. Now, don’t get me wrong–I love English too. However, our words do not by themselves define concepts. For example–think of the second person plural concept. In different languages, there are different words that describe when you are taking about “you” referring to a group of 2 or more doing something. The closest we get in English is “y’all” which is discouraged in proper English.
So I am going to be going over some of the words I plan to look at in my weekly class starting Tuesdays this month. Each week will have a theme to it: Words for God, Words from the OT, Words for Christ and New Testament Jargon. I will be looking at 4-8 different words in the Bible that by just looking at their original meaning will hopefully help expand or help define you faith a little better.
WORD FOR GOD– Let’s first open our BIble up to page one.. start reading from a Bible that has introductory pages… Bazinga!
Ok, but seriously, let’s open our Bibles to Genesis 1:1-5. Now, I know many of you have heard this before–but what I want you to do is look for how God is described. Here we go
So, here In the first creation story (what!? yes, there are two creation stories–see Genesis 2 for the other) we hear about God creating the world. In this section there are two very distinct descriptions of God-can anyone name them? nothing complicated, not tricks [[God-Creator and God-Spirit] and we’re going to look at both of them real quickly.
Meaning: God (or gods)
Genesis 1 uses the term elohim as the description for God. In “standard” Hebrew, this term is actually the plural form of the word for God. However, if you were Jewish, in NO WAY is God multiple gods. And, ironically, a Jewish description of God would not include the Trinity since Jews don’t believe in Jesus or even know about Him when they were writing this.
elohim has a singular meaning to demonstrate the greatness of God’s Mighty Force. Think about what God is doing in this section.
He’s creating, He’s God over EVERYTHING, He’s turning on lights and He’s making things from nothing. CRAZY, isn’t it? The Hebrew uses this same term (elohim) throughout this entire section to re-emphasize the importance of a Mighty Creator. Even the verb that indicates “to create” is only used in biblical text for divine creation.