Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm just not spiritual enough...

Or, atleast, that's what I was told tonight after class by a fellow student. Even though I took "World Religions" at Southeastern, ECU wanted me to take it again after I told them that the previous class had been informative, but was primarily about how to evangelize people of these various faiths. So, yes, I could tell you the difference between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, but the focus of the class was how to win them over.

Tonight we were learning about Judaism. The professor hit some of the highlights in the Hebrew Bible, talked about various beliefs, etc. Afterwards, I spoke to a student who just last week had tried to witness to me after learning that I'm Catholic. I asked him what he thought of the lecture - I had looked over and seen him rolling his eyes, shaking his head, or sleeping during most of the lecture. He said, "Well, he got a lot of things wrong."

"Oh?" I said, "Such as?"

"Well, like, he said that one of God's names was El. That's not true. It was Elohim - El is Aramaic."

I looked at him, a little confused and said, "No, El is Hebrew. It's Aleph Lamed. It's just short for Elohim and it's often used with other words like El Echad or whatever..."

"Man, you just don't understand, you don't have the Spirit."

I'm pretty sure this is the true meaning of John 20:22 - "And Jesus breathed onto them and said, 'Receive ye the Holy Spirit so that ye may be able to read Hebrew.'"


mike said...

Having the Spirit is definitely a prerequisite for any language study...

steph said...

El is not "short for Elohim". It is the very old Semitic word for God, which is shorter than later forms. It turns up in its original form in Aramaic in the Proverbs of Ahiqar, which is a pretty traditional text, and at Qumran, and elsewhere.

Josh McManaway said...

Steph - I wasn't sure if El was abbreviated, thanks for clearing that up. I've had very little Hebrew.

Steve Caruso said...

El, Eloah, and Elohim in Hebrew, El, Elah, and Alaha in Aramaic, Illah and Allah in Arabic, etc. are all etymologically related, as they all come from Semitic languages and share a common root. They all, in the end, are simply generic words for deity.

"El" occurs both in Hebrew and in Aramaic, but much more frequently in the former, and like you said when in Hebrew it is usually found in constructs like "El Elyon" "El Shaddai" "Beth El," etc.

A good example of it on its own is Exodus 34:14:

ki lo tishtakhaveh le-'el 'akher ki YHWH qana' shmo 'el qana' hu'.

"Do not worship any other god, for YHWH, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous god."

This verse in Exodus is certainly not in Aramaic. :-)

Overall, it does... distress me when individuals, unfamiliar with a particular field, unilaterally decide which prerequisites are necessary to make qualified statements... regardless of what they are. :-)

Steve Caruso
Translator, Aramaic Designs

Josh McManaway said...

Hey Steve,

Thanks for the info!

I definitely knew that "El" was a common word amongst Semitic languages - but you're saying that "El" and "Elohim" do indeed have a common root? Maybe that's what I remember hearing and in my mind I turned that into "short for".

Thanks for the post!