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Leviticus 17:10-16: The Linguistic Core

Leviticus 17:10-16: The Linguistic Core

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Published by Justin Langley
An exegetical examination of the Hebrew text of Leviticus 17:10-16. Submitted for a course on Old Testament Exegesis at Wheaton College Graduate School.
An exegetical examination of the Hebrew text of Leviticus 17:10-16. Submitted for a course on Old Testament Exegesis at Wheaton College Graduate School.

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Published by: Justin Langley on Apr 21, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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METHODOLOGYStudying the Hebrew text of any passage of the Bible entails a variety of challenges that thestudent must overcome in order to gain understanding. The student must grapple with broadsemantic ranges of individual words, idiomatic constructions that advance beyond the normalsemantic range of individual words, identifying special or technical uses of terminology byindividual authors, a complex verbal stem system, and the various ways an author may combinewords to convey his intended meaning. In addition, the English-speaking student must alsoidentify ways that he or she may communicate the author’s intended meaning in English idiom,so that other English-speakers may understand the message that the biblical author intended tocommunicate. In order to face these challenges, the student must utilize a number of tools thatdraw on scholars’ extensive work in biblical Hebrew.First, the student should utilize a good Hebrew concordance or a software program that provides advanced searching capabilities. This enables the student to identify every place in theHebrew Bible where a particular word, form of a word, or collocation of words occurs. Then, thestudent may differentiate between the different ways authors in the Bible used a particular wordor collocation and may find some help in identifying what the author of the passage under examination intended. Moreover, the student can also differentiate between the different verbalstems of a particular Hebrew root, which authors may use to communicate significantly differentideas.2
3Second, the student must consult various Hebrew dictionaries and lexica. These resourceswill provide the student with information on cognates in other languages, suggestions for thevarious ways authors have used the word under examination, and information on recurringcollocations that the student may find helpful. Moreover, some dictionaries provide some levelof reflection on the theological significance of certain words which often sheds light on what anauthor desired to communicate by his linguistic choices. Now, one surely does not need toresearch every word in a passage in order to understand the passage correctly. Commentaries,monographs, and journal articles may also provide valuable assessments of individual words or  phrases. Also, Hebrew reference grammars and books on Hebrew syntax yield a plethora of helpful information regarding collocations, verbal stems, preposition usage, and larger syntactical issues. One should focus on words or collocations not immediately intelligible to thestudent and words or collocations that seem to carry significant weight for what the author intended to communicate. The student may identify what carried significant weight for the author  by noticing repetitions and emphatic constructions and by seeking to locate the main point of the pericope.Third, the student must pay continuous attention to the critical apparatus in
.Students must analyze and attempt to evaluate significant textual variants. Sometimes one cannotmake sense of the passage under examination, and the critical apparatus may provide alternativereadings found in other manuscripts or translations that may have preserved a reading that precedes the reading found in the text of 
. The student should expect the biblical text tomake sense, but one must take care before changing a reading in
. Critical commentariesmay provide some aid in evaluating textual variants, but the student must keep his wits; commonsense and the reasonableness of arguments will often shed the greatest light on the text.

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