Author Topic: Linguistic Mapping of Reality  (Read 2477 times)

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Offline truthstalker

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Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« on: April 18, 2009, 07:15:15 PM »
We represent the universe using language and, inherently, its symbols for real things. Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures? Or are descriptions of truth, in Orthodoxy, detached from linguistic structures?

I tend to view the accusation that one reason the Romans tripped up in their theology was linguistically based: agate poententiam instead of metanoiete for example. I think there are similar suspicions about the filioque being a case of linguistic sloppiness.

Offline John of the North

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2009, 08:33:20 PM »
We represent the universe using language and, inherently, its symbols for real things. Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures? Or are descriptions of truth, in Orthodoxy, detached from linguistic structures?

I tend to view the accusation that one reason the Romans tripped up in their theology was linguistically based: agate poententiam instead of metanoiete for example. I think there are similar suspicions about the filioque being a case of linguistic sloppiness.

Well the vernacular of the time was Koine Greek, not Temple Hebrew. The LXX is a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures prior to the Incarnation of Our Lord.....thus the translation is not  charged as the later Hebrew translations were....
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Offline rwprof

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2009, 09:06:44 PM »
We represent the universe using language and, inherently, its symbols for real things. Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures? Or are descriptions of truth, in Orthodoxy, detached from linguistic structures?

I tend to view the accusation that one reason the Romans tripped up in their theology was linguistically based: agate poententiam instead of metanoiete for example. I think there are similar suspicions about the filioque being a case of linguistic sloppiness.

That's very close to the Whorfian Hypothesis, which is an intriguing concept, but untestable, and logically problematic, since it poses the chicken and egg question. Provided you are willing to use paraphrastic constructions and not just single words, any concept, no matter how specific, can be communicated in any language. One language does not present an advantage over others.




Mark (rwprof) passed into eternal life on Jan 7, 2010.  May his memory be eternal!

Offline John of the North

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2009, 09:21:07 PM »
We represent the universe using language and, inherently, its symbols for real things. Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures? Or are descriptions of truth, in Orthodoxy, detached from linguistic structures?

I tend to view the accusation that one reason the Romans tripped up in their theology was linguistically based: agate poententiam instead of metanoiete for example. I think there are similar suspicions about the filioque being a case of linguistic sloppiness.

That's very close to the Whorfian Hypothesis, which is an intriguing concept, but untestable, and logically problematic, since it poses the chicken and egg question. Provided you are willing to use paraphrastic constructions and not just single words, any concept, no matter how specific, can be communicated in any language. One language does not present an advantage over others.






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Offline truthstalker

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2009, 09:32:20 AM »
We represent the universe using language and, inherently, its symbols for real things. Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures? Or are descriptions of truth, in Orthodoxy, detached from linguistic structures?

I tend to view the accusation that one reason the Romans tripped up in their theology was linguistically based: agate poententiam instead of metanoiete for example. I think there are similar suspicions about the filioque being a case of linguistic sloppiness.

That's very close to the Whorfian Hypothesis, which is an intriguing concept, but untestable, and logically problematic, since it poses the chicken and egg question. Provided you are willing to use paraphrastic constructions and not just single words, any concept, no matter how specific, can be communicated in any language. One language does not present an advantage over others.






"In the beginning was the Word....."  So what linguistic structure is there for the Word? How can you have a Word in syntactic isolation?  Have the Orthodox endeavored to engage with modern linguistics, which seems to wander from a study of languages to dogmatic and possibly anti-Christian epistemological statements?
« Last Edit: April 19, 2009, 09:32:56 AM by truthstalker »

Offline rwprof

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2009, 09:40:08 AM »
We represent the universe using language and, inherently, its symbols for real things. Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures? Or are descriptions of truth, in Orthodoxy, detached from linguistic structures?

I tend to view the accusation that one reason the Romans tripped up in their theology was linguistically based: agate poententiam instead of metanoiete for example. I think there are similar suspicions about the filioque being a case of linguistic sloppiness.

That's very close to the Whorfian Hypothesis, which is an intriguing concept, but untestable, and logically problematic, since it poses the chicken and egg question. Provided you are willing to use paraphrastic constructions and not just single words, any concept, no matter how specific, can be communicated in any language. One language does not present an advantage over others.






"In the beginning was the Word....."  So what linguistic structure is there for the Word? How can you have a Word in syntactic isolation?  Have the Orthodox endeavored to engage with modern linguistics, which seems to wander from a study of languages to dogmatic and possibly anti-Christian epistemological statements?

You reduce the Godhood to a linguistic phenomenon then accuse me of anti-Christian statements?


Mark (rwprof) passed into eternal life on Jan 7, 2010.  May his memory be eternal!

Offline truthstalker

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2009, 05:40:06 PM »
We represent the universe using language and, inherently, its symbols for real things. Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures? Or are descriptions of truth, in Orthodoxy, detached from linguistic structures?

I tend to view the accusation that one reason the Romans tripped up in their theology was linguistically based: agate poententiam instead of metanoiete for example. I think there are similar suspicions about the filioque being a case of linguistic sloppiness.

That's very close to the Whorfian Hypothesis, which is an intriguing concept, but untestable, and logically problematic, since it poses the chicken and egg question. Provided you are willing to use paraphrastic constructions and not just single words, any concept, no matter how specific, can be communicated in any language. One language does not present an advantage over others.






"In the beginning was the Word....."  So what linguistic structure is there for the Word? How can you have a Word in syntactic isolation?  Have the Orthodox endeavored to engage with modern linguistics, which seems to wander from a study of languages to dogmatic and possibly anti-Christian epistemological statements?

You reduce the Godhood to a linguistic phenomenon then accuse me of anti-Christian statements?




I accuse you of nothing. Please read my post again. Modern linguistics seems to wander....I was looking at modern linguistics, not you, when I stated that.  Somehow this can be taken ambiguously.   Nor do I reduce the Godhead to a linguistic phenomenon.  But using "Word" to describe God has linguistic implications.  After I wrote that last post it occured to me that Logos is used rather than rhema, the former meaning a story, a reason, an account, while the latter means an utterance or a single word.  So I think you could argue that the Logos carries His own linguistic structure (along with everything else).

Offline Marc Hanna

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2009, 09:17:13 PM »
It's all about the ideas and the spirit carried by the words, the language is just the medium - just like the paint in an icon.

Offline Eugenio

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2009, 11:23:19 PM »
"Truthstalker" asked:

"Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures?"

Not exactly. I was told by an Orthodox priest that we Orthodox prefer the Septuagint for two reasons:

1) The oldest *extant* copies of the Old Testament are in Greek. Now I realize that the Torah has been copied down from generation to generation, but the oldest piece of papyrus we can get our hands on is written in Greek.

2) Regarding the prophecy of Daniel in which he foretells of the messiah, the Hebrew states "He shall be born of a young woman," while the Greek Septuagint states "He shall be born of a virgin."

So if you want to call the latter a "more accurate mapping of reality" then so be it, I guess...

Do other Orthodox on this list concur with my (admittedly secondhand) knowledge?

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2009, 07:41:54 AM »
"Truthstalker" asked:

"Does Orthodoxy regard Koine Greek as accurately mapping reality more so, say, than Hebrew, and thus the LXX is a more accurate document than the original inspired Scriptures?"

Not exactly. I was told by an Orthodox priest that we Orthodox prefer the Septuagint for two reasons:

1) The oldest *extant* copies of the Old Testament are in Greek. Now I realize that the Torah has been copied down from generation to generation, but the oldest piece of papyrus we can get our hands on is written in Greek.

2) Regarding the prophecy of Daniel in which he foretells of the messiah, the Hebrew states "He shall be born of a young woman," while the Greek Septuagint states "He shall be born of a virgin."

So if you want to call the latter a "more accurate mapping of reality" then so be it, I guess...

Do other Orthodox on this list concur with my (admittedly secondhand) knowledge?

There's another issue:

3) All the Christian manuscripts of the OT are the LXX, or derived from it.  The only exception is the Vulgate: Jerome took a Jewish Hebrew text and translated from that.  The problem is that because that text had passed through Jewish (meaning those Hebrews who had rejected our Messiah) hands for several centuries, i.e. Jerome was not working from 1st century texts, it can still be said to be a Jewish text.  He was criticized for doing so at the time.

In other words, the LXX was translated by those we would say were of the same Faith as us (symbolized by the legend of St. Symeon as being one of the translators, and his problem with the translation of "virgin" leading to him being told he would not die until he saw its fulfillment).  Those Hebrews who accepted our Messiah continued to use the LXX and it Hebrew Vorlage (varient readings in the Dead Sea Scrolls agree with the LXX, as do some pre-Christian scraps of the OT elsewhere).  Those who rejected Him used another text type, which was approved at Jamnia AFTER the birth of the Church.  The Masoretic text dates after Chalcedon, for instance.

In other words, the LXX has never been outside of those whom we would consider outside the Faith, which is a problem for Protestants: if you trust our Church to copy the Scriptures (and the King James Version, for instance, depended on late manuscripts from the Orthodox Church copied well over a thousand years after the autographs: as a matter of fact, I don't think they predate the schism of 1054), why do you reject that Church's interpretation.  How do you know that we didn't "change" anything?

Case in point: all Christian manuscripts of the Bible have the Anagignoskomena/Deuterocanonicals: none lack them.  And in this we are proved right in that the Jewish Talmud expounds on Sirach (the Hebrew text has been found in the 1800s).  The Jews celebrate Hannukkah although their rejection of Maccabbees has deprived them of scriptural warrent (1 Mac. 4:56–59) for doing so (and for our Fundamentalist friends, the Gospels record Our Lord celebrating it (John 10:22-24).  And the Jewish translation of Theodotion, done centuries after the rise of the Church, includes the disputed books (in fact, his transaltion of Daniel was preferred over that of the LXX by the Church, and it includes the "additions" in the LXX but not in the Masoretic text).  So one can follow the path of the Apostles, or that of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes.
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Offline Liz

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Re: Linguistic Mapping of Reality
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2009, 06:34:10 PM »
Just saw this post. It seems to me that some participants see language as a secondary structure of knowledge (a 'medium' was the term used). Modern psychology tends to suggest that, at least insofar as we can measure, the brain structures knowledge in a way that is deeply inflected by language itself. Different languages seem to modify the ways in which bits of the brain act and interact, but the initial fact that we are using language has a much stronger and more obvious effect on brain and thought-structure. It seems to me that God is the Word because we are designed, even at the inner levels of the brain, to receive the Word (Or, if you prefer, we are designed to receive the Word because God is the Word). I would posit that Christianity is indeed inherently linguistic, but of course it is not *simply* linguistic.