I learn with my eyes, by sight. I must see it to understand it. Some people are more apt to learn by sound (if there is a melody attached to it, they will never forget it.) Others gather information by senses such as touch and smell. A rare minority learn by reading a text. They can read a theory and understand it. (This is one reason I headed toward Mechanical Engineering and not Electrical Engineering. A gear head can see a bearing or cam and figure it out; a sparkie can’t see those electrons flowing in a wire, but they sure can harness those electron principles!) And, an even smaller minority learn by spiritual means: God gives them insight and gifts so they can edify others.
That being said, it’s fair to state that the majority of us prefer to watch it, to see it, to converse in such a way that the nuances of communication aren’t lost. That raised brow, that change in posture for emphasis, that non-verbal cue are part of the understanding process. Simply put, your steady girl would prefer you actually propose, physically going through the motions and emotions, than proposing to a marriage by email. Doing or seeing is certainly more interesting and captivating than reading a text.
So we come to an objection to reading the Bible. While we all know, or are told of the value of reading the Scriptures, it seems like a majority demur, “I’ll wait for the movie” or “it’s just too boring.” The text is old and stale to them. We can preach that it’s spiritually discerned and they must be backslidden, or they are not truly converted; but, despite our barking, the written word remains, to them, as dry as dust.
It’s my fault, at least in part. I have failed to both learn and teach the wonders, including the nuances, of the King James Bible. Regarding the Bible’s grammar, we are the blind leading the blind. (And, our blind aren’t staying around!) It’s such a fascinating book, the word of God (!), and yet we methodically kill it with boring and superficial lectures—because shallow is as deep as we go, until we seek to understand it ourselves!
From today’s personal reading, our daily enjoyable chapter over coffee, let’s, through a grammar lens, review an example of a text that comes alive:
“For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for” Deuteronomy 4:7.
This could be a fascinating study about the word nigh, or a even the word unto, but our attention is upon the restrictive clause “that we call upon him for.” Introduced by that (not which), this clause is a vital part of the sentence. Without this clause, the meaning of the sentence would be severely affected. Look at the doctrinal importance!
Ok, let’s go on:
“And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day” (Deuteronomy 4:8).
Again, we could declare the slight differences between statutes and judgments, or the intensive little word so, but staying in the theme, we’ll look at an nonrestrictive clause: “which I set before you this day.” A clause set off with a comma (,) and leading with the word which, is typically an nonrestrictive clause. And so it is. The information in this clause isn’t as vital as a clause set off with that. Really, we could remove this which clause and the meaning of the sentence would remain intact. Therefore, in this context, which I set before you this day doesn’t have the same gravity as that we call upon him for. The date (this day) isn’t as critical nor as vital as the relationship (call upon him) the creature maintains with the Creator. Good sound doctrine.
In conclusion, there is some nuance in the text. It’s there, openly communicating to those who seek to understand. It is very interesting, it is very cool! It’s alive with blatantly obvious and seemingly endless communications! Once again, I plead with you dear readers, study the word by learning and adhering to the grammar of the world’s most powerful language: English. Let’s blow off the dust, and let us all get better at English! Let us replace brutal and blunt dullness with sharpness, accuracy, and confidence.