Thursday, June 24, 2010

Unexpected beauty

One of my sisters sent me a copy of and link to a story about . . . well . . . beauty in unexpected places.

Check out the story my sister sent--the quick version.

An even quicker "tease":

It's about Joshua Bell, one of the greatest violinists in the world, who played some of the most beautiful violin music ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million . . . during morning rush hour in a Washington, DC, Metro station.

Three days before, he had played to a packed house in Boston where only middling seats cost $100 apiece.

The question he and a Washington Post reporter wanted to answer: How would people respond?

For the complete story, complete with video, see the original Washington Post article: Pearls Before Breakfast. And, then, a follow-up, "story behind the story" article . . . complete with readers' discussion, including answers to a question the author of the original article asked:
This story got the largest and most global response of anything I have ever written, for any publication. I am still wading through more than a thousand emails. . . .

[B]ut there's one [question] I'd like to pose: . . . [M]ore than 100 readers so far have told me that this story made them cry. It was not a reaction I anticipated, at least not so universally, and it has somewhat taken me aback. Can those of you who had this reaction try to explain it?
What do you think?


And an alternating super-sped-up and regular-speed video of the entire, 45-minute experiment (2:36):

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pesky pronouns!

I wondered when I would finally get around to writing blog posts again!

I "couldn't take it" anymore. Today is the day.

I woke up and my Scripture reading included Psalm 65 and Psalm 66. I'm reading in the ESV (English Standard Version). I thought Psalm 65:2 was a bit odd:
O you who hears prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come.
I thought: "'. . . [Y]ou who hears prayer'? . . . That's not right! You'd say, 'You . . . hear prayer,' not, 'You . . . hears prayer.' --It's the same way you distinguish when to say 'Bill and I' from when to say 'Bill and me': Knock out the additional noun so you can tell whether you should use the first-person subjective or first person objective pronoun:
  • Bill and I went to camp. (?) -OR- Bill and me went to camp. (?)
    Bill and I went to camp. (?) -OR- Bill and me Me went to camp. (?)
    --Ah! It's very clear: I should say Bill and I went to camp; I should never say, Bill and me went to camp.
  • Lucy targeted Bill and I. (?) -OR- Lucy targeted Bill and me. (?)
    Lucy targeted Bill and I. (?) -OR- Lucy targeted Bill and me. (?)
        --Again it's very clear: I should say Lucy targeted Bill and me; I should never say, Lucy targeted Bill and I.
And so it is here in Psalm 65:2:
  • O you who hears prayer . . . (?) -OR- O you who hear prayer. (?)
    You who hears prayer . . . (?) -OR- You who hear prayer. (?)
    --No question: I should say, O you who hear prayer; I should never say, O you who hears prayer.
So where did that grammatical error come from?

I checked some other versions on --All the older versions in which God is always addressed with the old-style "thou" and "thee"--and, concomitantly, the versions that maintain the "-eth" and "-est" suffixes on verbs--render Psalm 65:2 as "thou that hearest" or "thou who hearest." All the modern translations--except the ESV--render it as "you who hear."

. . . I think I'm going to write to the publisher!


--And then, Psalm 66:1 and 4:
Shout for joy to God, all the earth . . .
All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.
Ever since working my way through Genesis 1-11 back in January, I have been more attentive than normal to the use in the Bible of any English words that are closely associated with "the earth"--words like the earth, earth, soil, land, etc. --What Hebrew word is it that the translators are rendering into these English terms?

Is it eretz (Genesis 12:1, for example, where it appears twice but is translated in the ESV as country the first time and land the second; or Genesis 13:15-16, where it appears three times: once as land and the second and third times as earth)? Adamah (Genesis 1:25 includes both eretz ["And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds"] and adamah [". . . and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind"])?

Turns out, in Psalm 66, the earth, in both cases, is ha eretz.

--Not sure what that means, ultimately. But I find it interesting that ha eretz, a singular noun, is replaced by a plural pronoun in the third line of v. 4: "they sing praises to your name."


And one final verbal oddity.

This one comes from our sermon yesterday morning.

Our pastor preached from Genesis 27, where Jacob puts on goatskin so he can deceive his blind father and acquire the blessing his father intended for Jacob's older brother, Esau.

In Genesis 27:5-8 we read,
Now Rebekah [the mother of both Jacob and Esau--JAH] was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 'Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before [YHWH] before I die.' Now therefore, my son . . ."
Did you catch the interesting possessive pronouns?
Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field . . ., Rebekah said to her son Jacob . . ."
Kind of reminds me of the many places throughout the Old Testament where the authors carefully distinguish the possessive pronouns attached to God: One person will refer to "YHWH our God" or "YHWH my God," the next to "YHWH your God." Or the same person will refer, at one point in his life, to "YHWH your God," but at another point he will speak of "YHWH my God."

--VERY interesting!

(By the way. It's pretty clear why the Scriptures speak of Jacob as Rebekah's son while Esau is Isaac's son. Look at Genesis 25:28: "Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob." --Anyone want to deal with a dysfunctional family?)