I don't really know why, but
referring to the sacred writings of the Hebrew people as
has always bothered me.
I still do it, but I would like
to stop doing it
out of respect
to the Hebrew tradition.
this collection of documents is their
collection. Calling their collection "The Old Testament" and our
collection "The New Testament" has unfair implications.
This way of talking didn't start until about 180 CE when Bishop Melito of
Sardis first used the term "Old Testament." About 20 years later in
200 CE Tertullian is believed to have been the first one to use the term
"New Testament" to designate the
Christian writings. Whoever is to blame, it wasn't nice.
If I were a
little younger and not so lazy, I would learn to refer to the
Hebrew writings with the same names they use. For instance,
in Judaism the canon of the Hebrew
Bible is called "The Tanakh."
The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the three traditional subdivisions: The Torah ("Teaching",
also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi'im ("Prophets") and Ketuvim
["According to the Talmud, much of the contents of the Tanakh were compiled
by the "Men of the Great Assembly" by 450 BCE, and have since remained
unchanged. Modern scholars believe that the process of canonization of the
Tanakh became finalized between 200 BCE and 200 CE." --Wikipedia ]
Even though I'm old and lazy, I'm
going to learn four new words:
Tanakh, Torah, Nevi'im, and
I plan to refer to the Christian
documents as: the Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse.
I can't agree with everybody all the time,
but I can show respect.
|When I was in the seminary, I
took a year of Hebrew. I loved it. But, alas, I've forgotten
it all! We learned the classical, Biblical Hebrew. This is the
alphabet of Biblical Hebrew.
Wow! Does that bring back
memories! I'd love to go back to those days and start over from
Sorry about the tears.
" The things
I'd do different (ly) if I could do
them again! "
books of The Tanakh, like Amos, etc. were written in what's called
This is the alphabet that Amos
and others used for writing down the spoken Hebrew.
["The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet is an offshoot of the ancient Semitic
alphabet and closely related to the Phoenician alphabet from which it
It dates to the 10th century BCE or earlier. It was used as the main
vehicle for writing the Hebrew language by the Israelites, who would later
split into Jews and Samaritans.
It began to fall out of use by the Jews in the 5th century BCE when they
adopted the Aramaic alphabet as their writing system for Hebrew, from
which the present Jewish "square-script" Hebrew alphabet descends.
After the Babylonian capture of Judea, when most of the nobles were taken
into exile, the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet continued to be used by the people
Beginning from the 5th century BCE onward, when the Aramaic language and
script became an official means of communication, the Paleo-Hebrew
alphabet was preserved mainly for writing the Tanakh by a coterie of
erudite scribes." --Wikipedia
Have I digressed?
When you're very old you digress a lot and you cry a lot!
What I meant to say
was this, "I'm
going to learn four new words."
Tanakh, Torah, Nevi'im, and
|I have an idea that people around the world are
not asking for us to agree with them about everything. Whether
they're Buddhist or Hindu or Taoist or Confucian or Christian or Muslim or
Jain or Sikh or whatever, they would happily settle for just a little more
respect. I painfully realize that there are some who are saying, "My
way or the highway." These are the real trouble makers. I
don't know what to say about these people. I don't know what their
problem is. But, except for these extremists, I really do believe
that most people would be happy to settle for a little honest, humble
respect. I know I would.
Years ago, while Jerry Falwell was still alive, I wrote an open letter to
him. If you would take the time to read it, I would be very
grateful. [Reading this over again, I'm very embarrassed. I must
have been in a very bad mood the day I wrote this. Sorry, Jerry! ]
An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell