RE: Words and Such

> The above statements appear to deny that the words chosen to express a
> thought are at all significant.  But this isn't true, as can be heard
> in everyday speech.  Think of discussing someone you argue with from
> time to time:
>                                                    bulldog
>     If you argue with George, you'll find he's a {          }.
>                                                    pussycat
> The only difference in the sentence is one word.  But the meanings are
> diametrically opposed.
> Perhaps I do not understand the argument Keith and Bob are making.
> Would someone clarify, please?

But the meaning does not consist of a single word, the meaning of
the sentence given above is determined by the whole sentence not an
individual word. I don't think anyone was trying to suggest that the
individual words in a sentence don't make a difference to its meaning.
But it is an unfortunate fact of life that preachers, and others, do tend
to take a single word from an English translation and hang an entire
theological point off it. In many cases, such an exposition is not
justified. Your example is of a figurative comparision, because if I
met George I would find he is neither bulldog or pussycat, but a human.
When dealling with Biblical texts, people confined to reading English
translations, coupled with, say, a beleif in verbal inspiration, often
make the mistake of assigning more meaning to a word than really exists.
If the Bible said George were a "bulldog", I could give a long sermon about 
how George has four legs, is brown, how his face looks like he was run 
over by a bus, how he snuffles and so forth. None of this is even close to 
the truth, George is human.

I'm don't read Greek, I'm usually just  a lurker here, but I do read
Hebrew. I have noticed that often preachers will take a passage in 
which the origin of a Biblical name is given, which in Hebrew is based
on some sort of word play such as a pun or assonance, then procede to
develop an entire sermon around the assumption that the Biblical name means
what the pun or assonance got translated into English as. (That was a 
terrible sentence.)  In these cases most of what they say is based on
a false assumption, and most of the sermon consuming public is none the wiser.

Bill Rea, Computer Services Centre, | E-Mail     b.rea@csc.canterbury.ac.nz
Private Bag 4800                    | or       cctr114@csc.canterbury.ac.nz
University of Canterbury,           | Phone 64-3-642-2331 
Christchurch, New Zealand           | Fax   64-3-642-2332