26 November 2005

A Word on Words and The Word

Well as you can tell I've been thinking a lot lately about words and specifically the Word or scripture. And then I thought about this.

Some people think words are a simple thing. It's black and white. Simple, right?

I'm a quilter. It's never just black. Or white. Let's look at white, for example. I can't go to a store and just buy white fabric. There are all kinds and shades of "white." When I get together with my quilting friends and we are talking about a design we spend a lot of time trying to agree on the shade of white we're talking about at any given time. Or here's something you may be more familiar with. Imagine you want to paint a room. You've just walked into Home Depot's paint department and found the paint chips, now pick some "white" paint. How many shades of "white" are there? To say, "several," is putting it mildly.

It's that way with words too. Every word has different nuances and shades of meaning. Every person hears each word within a range of those nuances and shades of meaning. Each person brings their own particular history, cultural heritage, biases, etc. to each word they hear or see. When you string words together into sentences and paragraphs, the range of meaning that a person can bring to those sentences and paragraphs grows exponentially.

All of those thoughts led me to this: every person then brings all of their own prejudices, particular history, cultural heritage, shades of meaning, etc. with them when they read the Bible. So when I read the Bible I read something a little different than what you read. It's a little different than what LightHusband reads. And so on. This is good. It also makes sense. In the same manner that I don't look like LightHusband (thank GOD!), or walk like him or talk like him, I also don't read like him. I am a unique creation of a God who loves me. So is each person on this earth, so it makes sense that we would each come to HIs Word with a unique perspective. Those with the expectation that we would come to the Bible and each read the exact same thing and hear the words in the exact same way are being very unreasonable ....

... in the most reasoned manner possible.


Blogger kate said...

Poor LightHusband!
I get tripped out further when I start thinking about it in terms of translation. I've heard people say how beautiful and lyrical the Bible is in its original -- sheesh, what? Greek? Hebrew? I wish I could find out for myself. (you know, without having to actually learn a language, or something that took effort...)
It really must be the word of God to survive all of that while retaining life-changing meaning and relevance, methinks.

11/28/2005 10:45:00 AM  

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