I learned a little Hebrew today. Thought it was worth sharing.
“Torah” = “Law” in Christian Bibles, but in a Jewish bible it’s almost always translated “teaching.” As Christians, we typically talk about the Old Testament law as the means by which God showed us, how much we needed a Savior. (“Cause we couldn’t live up to everything the “Law” required.) Therefore, we think of the “Law” as a condemning sort of thing. If we could think of it more like Jesus did, like our Jewish friend do, I think we’d be thinking more accurately.It may be subtle, but it makes a difference. Let me show you:
Psalm 1:2 – “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”
but if we read it the way our Jewish friends do, it’d say:
Psalm 1:2 – “The teaching of the Lord is His delight, and he studies that teaching day and night.”
Our Jewish friends, think of the “Law” well the “Torah” very differently. The Torah is a blessing – not a condemnation. It’s God “teaching” which helps us to live life more fully. Their attitude toward “Torah” is much more in line with it’s intent, and therefore more in line with God.
In much the same way, “Mitzvah” is translated “commandment.” We hear that word as burdensome – as something which comes from a domineering authority figure. But our Jewish friends hear it differently – in a positive way. They say things like “I had the opportunity to do a mitzvah today when my neighbor needed some help.” It’s not a burden, but an opportunity to honor God in a special way.
Bottom line: I think our Jewish friends have it right. If we could learn to think of these terms like they do, I think much of the weight of our faith would be lifted and we could live in freedom by rejoicing in His “Torah” (teaching) and looking for opportunities to perform a “Mitzvah” (commandment).
I’m so glad that there are Christians all over the world who are trying to interpret the Gospel message to all sorts of cultures. I just discovered a new version of the Bible that’s written in the “Manga” format. For those of you who aren’t familiar – Manga is that Japanese animation that fills complete sections of your local bookstore.
I ordered a copy of the Manga Bible to use with the students in our church. It’s an interesting way to consider the scriptures and in general, it’s pretty accurate to the original. (There is certainly some creative license used, too.) Anyway, I just think it’s cool that like Jesus, the Gospel message is becoming more and more incarnate in different cultures.
Pretty cool animation of David and Goliath on the cover, huh?
Howard Hendricks wrote this book and we’re studying it in my Hermeneutics class. There is also a video series that goes along with it that we’re going to be watching throughout the 5 weeks of class. It’s a 19 part series and we’re gonna have to go to the library at the school to watch them. It’s an hour and a half drive for me to go to the school so I got on-line and was looking for a place I could buy the videos or rent them or something. Anyway, it looks like they have reworked the series into a 7 session video instead of the 19 sessions. It doesn’t look like there’s any place to buy the old version which is what my homework is written from, so I’m gonna be trying to find a way in the next few weeks to get up to the school – I hate spending $$ on gas right now – it’s about $2.80 gallon. (I’ll probably read this 20 years from now and think that’s cheap, but it’s not – at least not right now.)
Anyway, the video part is Howard sitting in front of about 8 other folks who are supposed to be students. It’s pretty funny to watch though ’cause they are definitely not actors. It’s clear that Howard has instructed them on what questions to ask and such. Anyway, I guess the content of the videos is pretty good – it’s all about the basics of studying the Bible. He divides it into three main sections. (1) Observation, (2) Interpretation, and (3) Application. It sets up a pretty good basic structure for how we should study the Scriptures. I hope that as we go further into it, I’ll have more to share. We’ll see.