Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Daq 'Iv taH the batlh reH je ever. Amen.
to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen Galatians 1:5

(click for podcast)

There are limits to the practical value of studying a language like Klingon - which is not to say there are NONE. It is certainly a great way to learn about linguistics - and understand the limits of translation between languages and cultures. And in studying languages, real and constructed, you also can discover a few universals.

Without warp drives or cloaking devices, words have the power to move across borders, from culture to culture. Some time ago I talked about Alleluia - a scripture word that has found its way into many languages. Today I've got another - a universal word you all know whether you speak Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Creole, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Esperanto, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Kenyan, Latvian, Maori, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, or Xhosa. Can somebody say "amen?"

Originally a Hebrew word, from a primitive root meaning to build up or support, Amen has become a part of many languages. We see it used in different ways in the Bible. As a word used to reinforce a statement (eg. when the we read in the Nehemiah "The whole assembly responded, 'Amen,' "), used in prayer ("Bless his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen!" Psalm 72:19)) and as a title for Christ ("the one who is the Amen" Rev 3:14) Actually, even when we don't see it, you can find "Amen" being used, for it is a word that at times IS translated. For example, the familiar words of Jesus as translated in the King James Bible "Verily, verily, I say unto you" translate the Greek "amen amen lego umin" (amen, amen I say to you).

I think it's natural that, in translating Biblical texts in some distant future, we'd preserve "Amen" as a part of the vocabulary. And just as naturally, we'd include synonyms for the strong affirmation when the congregation calls out "Amen!" For Klingons, I'd nominate "HIja'!" That's one of the Klingon words for yes, and I can imagine a Klingon preacher calling out
HIja' noblaH'a' vay'  - can somebody give a HIja'?
But what is the point? Is "Amen" simply a rallying cry? Is it no more than a religious cheer or demonstration of loyalty. No - I'd say that the bottom line is truth. As a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable. We say "amen" to what is indeed TRUE.

It's not unusual to regard believers as engaging in some disconnected-from-reality enterprise. To see worshippers as being part of a fanciful set of beliefs that don't connect to the day-to-day world. I disagree, and think it is a shame when some believers appear to question science - seeming to fear or doubt the truth. The foundations of a Biblical faith are found in dictates like those of Leviticus "'You shall not steal; neither shall you deal falsely, nor lie to one another. (19:11). The AMEN of believers is to a faith that includes honesty as central - so core to the faith that it is within the ten commandments.

Those who commit themselves to the God of the Bible are putting their trust in one who we're told "cannot lie." So when considering the promises of God - take heart! Whether you speak Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Creole, Croatian,Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Klingon, Latvian, Mando'a, Maori, Russian, or Vulcan - these promises are indeed something about which to shout AMEN!
vaD however law' 'oH the promises vo' joH'a', Daq ghaH ghaH the . HIja'..
vaj je vegh ghaH ghaH the .Amen,. Daq the batlh vo' joH'a' vegh maH.

For however many are the promises of God, in him is the "Yes." Therefore also through him is the "Amen," to the glory of God through us. 2Co 1:20

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hear My Prayer!

Qoy wIj tlhobtaHghach
hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1c
(click for podcast version)

Prayer. Or, tlhlobtaHghach, as rendered in the KLV, is a mystery.

If you are inclined to be overly analytical - maybe the kind of person who ponders "can God make a rock so big he can't lift it?" - you may ponder WHY prayer is needed at ALL. Doesn't God know what we need? Indeed Isaiah records God's word about that very point:

'oH DIchDaq qaS vetlh, qaSpa' chaH ja', jIH DichDaq jang; je qaStaHvIS chaH 'oH yet speaking, jIH DichDaq Qoy.

It shall happen that, before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

And yet - we pray. In desperate straits David - and we - call out

Qoy wIj tlhobtaHghach
hear my prayer.

Well, of course. Prayer is a part of the life of believers. From beginning to end, it is the advice, the command of Scripture

In the first book of Chronicles we read:

Seek the LORD and his strength. Seek his face forever more. (1 Chr 16:11)

And James tells us:

Is any among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praises. (James 5:13)

We pray - we plead, we ask. That is the heart of the Klingon word I've used for prayer: tlhob, to request, plead, or ask, plus taH (on-going) with the nominalizer -ghach. tlhobtaHghach - an asking or plea.

This is the single word used in my KLV for prayer, but there are many used in the original languages - remember, the KLV is a simple relexification - word-for-word replacement - of the WEB. It is more the start of a translation - an example of a pidgin-language that might be used in a world with multi-lingual Klingon and English speakers.

The Bible has something like a dozen words in Hebrew and Greek, that are translated as "prayer." In this passage, tlhobtaHghach represents the Hebrew word tephillah, used about 70 times in the Bible, a word meaning an intercession or supplication. The most common Greek word in the Bible translated prayer is proseuche, used over 30 times in the Bible.

We ASK as believers because we are confident, not of a power or machinery behind the Universe, but of a PERSON. A Personal God who is there to hear when we call - a God who wants our "joy to be full." Psalm 17 reads:

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray. (Psalm 17:6 NLT)

So, in delight or despair, joy or pain, we turn to him,

we ask,

we call out

Qoy wIj tlhobtaHghach
hear my prayer.