Bringing the Text to Life

A Passion for Plato's Greek Nehemiah 8:1-4a, 5-6, 8-10

A Passion for Plato's Greek

Modern Greeks have an intense affection for ancient polytonic prose. They don't read it every day, of course, but they say they love it to death. Do we have the same "love it and leave it" relationship with God's holy word?

Words matter.

Language is important.

How important? To die for.

Recent language riots in Algeria resulted in the deaths of four Berbers protesting the government's decision to make Arabic the official language of Algeria, a slap at the Berbers' Tamazight tongue.

In Pakistan, riots throughout the last half of the century resulted in the deaths of people protesting Urdu as the official language in a country where Urdu competes with Bengali, Sindhi, Punjabi and others.

In India, language is a sensitive issue. In the 1965 riots, people died over the issue in Madras, and 30,000 teachers lost their jobs.

Even in our own country, we have a long tradition of language battles. Ben Franklin himself was a player in the dispute with the Pennsylvania Germans in the 1750s. But today, the strife continues. One needs only to mention California, Hawaii, Oakland (Ebonics), Miami, Puerto Rico to recall language wars which pit English-only advocates against the speakers of indigenous or immigrant...

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