Biblical Hebrew and Greek in English Letters. The importance of biblical literacy in the world of English literature. Why the Bible?. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Biblical Hebrew and Greek in English Letters
Biblical Hebrew and Greek in English LettersThe importance of biblical literacy in the world of English literature.Why the Bible?Biblical literature is undoubtedly a formative aspect of English literature. For example, one can hardly understand the African American story without a strong grasp of the Exodus: Moses, Pharaoh and the Jordan river stand as archetypal images for the African American experience, both in the oral and written subcultures of the people (not unlike the oral and written law of the Hebrew people).
The English Canons echoes of biblical themes and phrasing (i.e. valley of the shadow of death) are undeniable, and ought to, therefore, be studied as a means of understanding the connotated dimensions of of English prose and poesy.
Paradise Lost Though the entirety of the epic poem is centered explicitly around biblical themes, we will consider a passage to illustrate that more than a general understanding of Bible stories is necessary to understand what Milton is singing.Paradise LostJohn MiltonNo one would argue that biblical literacy wouldnt help the comprehension and appreciation of a text such as Paradise Lost. But, what kind of tangible difference does Biblical knowledge make?Book ILines 17-26And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples th upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for thou knowst; thou from the first Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss, And madst it pregnant: what in me is dark Illumine, what is low raise and support; That, to the height of this great argumentmay assert Eternal Providence, And justify the ways of God to men.And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer Before all temples th upright heart and pure 1Cor. 6.19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? Instruct me, for thou knowst; thou from the first Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread, Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss, and madst it pregnant: what in me is dark Illumine, what is low raise and support;
(Matt. 3.16) And Jesus, when he was baptized, he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: (Gen. 1.2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Gen. 1.3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Gen. 1.9) And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. While many, not all, of the biblical illusions were show in the previous slides there are still some that have yet to be exposed. For the sake of time we will only discuss one other.
The question remains: Why did Milton say of the Holy Ghost Dove-like satst brooding on the vast / Abyss, and madst it pregnant?tEaw MyAmDvAh tEa MyIhlTa arD;b tyIvarV;b :Xr`DaDhyEnVp_lAo JKRvOjw wh$Obw whOt hDtyDh Xr#DaDhw [:My`D;mAh yEnVp_lAo tRpRjrVm My$IhlTa Ajwrw] MwhVt:rwa_yIhy`Aw rwa yIhy MyIhlTa rRmayw
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the [Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.]And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
10:My`D;mAh yEnVp_lAo [tRpRjrVm] My$IhlTa AjwrwSpirit of God [moved] upon the face of the waters.Milton knew his Hebrew.The Strongs Concordance explains that the Hebrew root from which moved comes is:7363. PAjr rachaph, raw-khaf; a primitive root; to brood; by implication, to be relaxed:flutter, move, shake.
Biblical Literacy is NecessaryAs we can see, more than a terse knowledge of Bible stories is necessary to understand the poesy of Milton. The examples are just about endless. For a more nuanced reading of literature, canonical and contemporary, one ought take her/his biblical studies seriously.