Archive for January, 2014

Since I’m not moving from one overseas trip to another this month, like I had to do most of last year, I have time to do reading in my field so that I can develop myself professionally. I’m currently reading through Biblical Words and Their Meaning, by Moisés Silva. In his discussion on the proper use of etymology for lexicography, Silva notes that Greek needs the help of root meanings of Greek words and related languages much less. Hebrew, on the other hand, requires more help from etymological studies because of the many words that occur only one time in the Old Testament (called “hapax legomena”). He says that Hebrew has 1,300 of these and that 500 words occur only twice. With only about 8,000 words in the entire OT, that’s quite a few words that are difficult to remember because of their rarity! No wonder Hebrew is such a challenge (among other reasons)!

He also sheds light on the Greek words for “love” in the NT. He says that the common understanding is that “while the Greeks normally used philein, this verb was considered inadequate by the LXX translators, who preferred the relatively rare term agapan (and even coined a noun, agape) and infused it with a nobler meaning, leading to the New Testament use of this and cognate terms for ‘divine love'” (p. 96). Silva points out that, contrary to what this common understanding leads us to believe, the LXX translators preferred this supposedly nobler term for incestuous lust in 2 Samuel 13:15. He also explains that, in contrast to this supposed uniquely biblical use of the terms, the preference for agapan over philein for “love” is actually “quite generally attested in Hellenistic times.” Apparently, the Greeks avoided the former because it began to acquire the meaning “to kiss.” The actual Greek term for “to kiss” (kunein) sounded too much like the word meaning “to impregnate” (kuein), so it’s understandable why they wouldn’t use that term. So, as philein became invested with the meaning “to kiss”, agapan took over the semantic ground that philein had given up. The understanding of these relationships is possible through a “structural perspective.” The “structure” of a language has to do with how all the words in that semantic space (e.g., “love” in this case) interact with each other. We need to be careful that we don’t make conclusions about words on the basis of only two words in that semantic space, if there are other words in that space as well. All need to be examined before making conclusions about any.

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Six Weeks at Home

It’s hard to believe that I can enjoy a stretch of 6 weeks (technically, 6.5) at home, but that’s what lies ahead of me until my next trip. I’ve taken a break from my blog over the Christmas break, and it’s been hard to get back in the habit of updating it each week. But hopefully I can re-cultivate that habit beginning now.

I’m thankful for the refreshing and relaxing time I had with family and friends in South Carolina during the holiday season. I’ve always said that I prefer the cold and snow of MI over the heat and humidity of SC, but I sure couldn’t complain about sunny, 50-degree days in SC during my vacation. It was definitely nice to see the ground all the time. In contrast, I look out my window right now and see flakes falling upon mounded snow, knowing that temperatures are supposed to plunge into the single digits before I am sitting at my desk again tomorrow. Brrr! I’ve begun to develop a very thankful heart when I look out one of the windows of my house and see that I don’t have to shovel that morning. Of the very few mornings I’ve spent at my house this month and last, I’ve only been able to give thanks a few times. I was at my home in December for only 3 days, and I shoveled snow 4 times!

This 6-week stretch at the office is giving me the opportunity to better assess the situation of my department. I worked with my two coordinators to develop our priorities for 2014, and I already began today to accomplish some of the goals for those priorities. One priority drew my attention to the current state of BI’s projects. Here’s how our 39 current projects break down:

  • 16 NTs (10 of which should be completed within the next 2-3 years)
  • 20 OTs
  • 3 literacy only (16 total projects needing literacy support)
  • (22 projects needing linguistics support)

We praise the Lord for all that He has entrusted into our care!

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