Easton, who will be 16 months old next week, is an avid climber. Neither of the girls did much climbing, but Easton climbs everything in sight- couches, chairs, bikes, strollers, curbs, beds, bathtubs, ladders, you name it. One day he made it to the top bunk all by himself! Unfortunately, his legs are not quite long enough to handle the predicaments he gets himself into, and his head circumference is off the charts (think: topheavy!). This is not a good combo. Case in point: he can climb halfway into or out of the bathtub, and then he is quite stuck and has to resort to diving ...clunk! His poor head gets quite the beating every day!
His climbing adventures parallel mine with biblical languages, I'm afraid. Our professor was warning us last week that we know enough Hebrew at this point to be dangerous. The word looks familiar. We think we can guess at what it means. Perhaps we remember the passage in English well enough to fill in the blanks. We're pretty sure at some point we remember learning a grammatical rule that would explain what we're seeing in this verse. But, quite honestly, we're stumbling around in the dark. The rule turns out not to be a rule at all. The English verse we remember was a bad translation in the first place. Our guess is off the mark. It's not a word we've learned. The important thing, I suppose, at this stage is to remind ourselves constantly that we have a long way to go before our hunches can be trusted and we can speak confidently about Hebrew.
But we watch our professor skim a page of Hebrew script to find the particular verb he knows is there in order to illustrate his point. We hear the way he rattles off Scriptures verses which he has memorized ... in Hebrew. And we determine to keep chipping away so that someday we too will know God's Word as deeply as he does.
They say you have to make a million mistakes in order to learn a language. And if mistakes are a measure of learning, then I must be well on my way! Does a child need to fall a million times in order to learn how to walk? If so, then Easton's bruises tell me I'm in good company!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
a million mistakes
Dr. Carmen Imes is the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta, and serves the broader church through teaching, speaking, and writing. She earned a PhD in Biblical Theology (Old Testament) from Wheaton College under Dr. Daniel Block, an MA in Biblical Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a BA in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. She and her husband, Danny, served as missionaries with SIM 15 years. They have three children: Ana, Emma, and Easton.