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  • joeyredhead

The World of Thought

As you may well know, I love learning more about the languages that the bible was originally written in. I feel that it really helps me gain a deeper understanding of what is being said, and I enjoy sharing what I learn with anyone who will listen! Last year I learned New Testament Greek and this year I am learning Biblical Hebrew. Whilst I am learning, and very much enjoy the languages, I am far from proficient in them and often have to remind myself of the basics. I have to remind myself that Hebrew is read from right to left and the way that combinations of vowels sound different in Greek than in English. But the more that I practice, the more natural these things become and soon I find myself doing them without thinking.

Recently I went to the opticians and during the sight test I was asked to read the lowest line of letters that I could. As I began to read the optician looked at me confused and asked which line I was reading. When I responded by telling her that it was the third line she asked with even more confusion if I was reading the line backwards. “No!” I stated emphatically, a little puzzled by the question, before leaving a short pause for reflection and then sheepishly continuing, “actually… yeah, I was, sorry. I got confused!”

Apparently, my brain now instinctively reads words that it doesn’t recognise as though they were Hebrew. And that’s the funny things about languages, it’s not just learning new words, or even new rules of how to put them together, but whole new ways of thinking. Language reflects the way that a culture thinks. In Biblical Hebrew there are no separate words for “to hear” and “to obey”, that is, to respond to hearing. That’s because in ancient Jewish thought that if you have really heard, then you must respond and if you don’t respond then you mustn’t have really heard. But in British thought, hearing is very far away from being a guarantee of obeying.

I find myself belonging to a number of different thought worlds. As far as Greek and Hebrew are concerned, it’s really just to do with grammar and word order (I still have a habit of reading the English word “noun” as “noon” because that’s how it would be phonetically pronounced in Greek). But beyond the worlds of language and semantics, I live in different thought worlds within my own culture. The musician in me desires creative freedom, whilst my engineering tendencies long for control and order. The child in me wants to play all the time, whilst the adult in me knows just enough about social etiquette to know that it’s not always appropriate to run around and be silly. But all of the worlds that I belong to, no two are more constantly at war for my thoughts than that of my trust in God and the world that surrounds me which does not know Him.

And this plays out in so many more ways than I could describe here. Although I know that I have a God who I can trust, who is in control, who is working good for me and who’s timing is perfect, I so easily slip in to acting according to the thoughts of the world. Living like it’s only me. Like my future depends upon me. Like I have to do it all. Trying to make things happen how I want, worrying about the future and being dissatisfied with the present that God has given me. Instead of resting and trusting in Him. And this is just one example of where what I know so well somehow unconsciously gets overwritten in my mind. And when I realise that this is happening, I have to remind myself once more of the rules of my native tongue – my faith in God.

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