“Dispensationalists hold to the originalist approach to hermeneutics.”

"Dispensationalists . . . believe (1) that meaning is contained in words, (2) that words can have a broad semantic range, (3) that that range is limited in any instantiated use of those words by historical context, and (4) that the original intention of the author is both fixed and impervious to evolution." - Snoeberger

1867 reads

There are 10 Comments

josh p's picture

Well-said. After reading arguments for and against Dispensationalism for years, this is why I'm still "in the camp." 

Don Johnson's picture

I agree that Mark's piece is good, but he could make his article more accessible by using less big words. 

"lexeme"

"variegated"

" hermeneuts"

"instantiated"

"biblical corpus" -- how do I hate "corpus," let me count the ways!

There are a few others, and technical terms are unavoidable in any discussion of a technical topic, but these are just annoying. Why talk that way?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

I agree that Mark's piece is good, but he could make his article more accessible by using less big words. 

"lexeme"

"variegated"

" hermeneuts"

"instantiated"

"biblical corpus" -- how do I hate "corpus," let me count the ways!

There are a few others, and technical terms are unavoidable in any discussion of a technical topic, but these are just annoying. Why talk that way?

I'll grant you the "hermeneuts," "lexeme," and maybe even "corpus" (although that one is actually pretty common and known by even most of those who watch TV crime or legal dramas rather than studying).

But you're worried about "instantiated" and "variegated?"  Come on, what is this, elementary school?  English has a lot of good terms with exact definitions.  Why do we need to write (especially for articles here on SI) like we've never studied any English vocabulary?  I get not using too many words like this in a sermon to average Joes and Janes, or in a casual conversation, or in a group with a lot of English-as-a-second-language people, but I don't see how they are overdone in a discussion forum, specifically when already talking about a subject like "dispensationalism" (try using that one in your average conversation!).

Dave Barnhart

Don Johnson's picture

First, began when Mike Barrett used to mark me down in papers in grad school.

Second, continues in working with average people in the ministry.

If you want to communicate broadly, ditch the obfuscation!

(see what I did there...)

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

First, began when Mike Barrett used to mark me down in papers in grad school.

Second, continues in working with average people in the ministry.

If you want to communicate broadly, ditch the obfuscation!

As I said, your second reason I completely get and agree with.

As for the first one, I don't know what you thought of Mike Barrett as a professor, but from what you describe, that type of teaching usually teaches a lesson completely different from what was intended.

My daughter had an English professor in her college freshman year who also only taught the lesson "don't be like me."  She wrote a paper for class that had to take a position on a topic.  She got it back with the following comments: "Very well written, good argumentation, thesis well supported, good form.  However, I disagree with your thesis.  D."  For the rest of the semester, she wrote simpering papers that confirmed the professor's thoughts and got A's.  What she learned was that some people can't take any thinking contrary to their own, and that good writing takes second place to agreeing with them.  Just tell them what they want to hear when you have to interact with them, and otherwise avoid them.

As to your statement, I liked your word choice.  I also agree with it.  What language is used is often, if not always, a function of not only what needs to be said, but the audience.  On a topic that is already somewhat technical, I think technical language is appropriate.  I'm not a theologian, but in my field, if you attempt to make the concept too simple, you often make it even harder to understand what you are trying to describe.  I'm not saying that one should try to use the most jargon possible that only the closest insiders will know.  However, to deeply understand a topic often requires something above elementary-level English.

 

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Don, I think you meant "eschew obfuscation".  :^)

Seriously, I don't think Mark's article was particularly bad regarding the use of "ten dollar words when a nickel word will suffice", but Don's entirely correct that sometimes our discourse is inhibited when we use too many of them.  Not that there isn't a place for technical terms, but there are times when the reader might wonder whether the writer is trying to impress us with his vocabulary instead of with his thought process.

Call me, in a lighthearted way, a hopeful disciple of Strunk and White.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

josh p wrote:

Don, was Barrett marking you down for using big words? 

Yes, his comment in the margin was to the effect that "people in your future ministry won't understand these words, so don't get in the habit of using them"

He was more concise than that, but I don't have the paper handy (might be in my files somewhere)

Some big words people should learn ("propitiation" - its in the Bible) but the preacher should always be careful to explain them. However, in a paper like this, I recognize Mark thinks in terms of a seminary audience, so he is used to talking that way. I think it obscures things if someone in the great unwashed should stumble across his blog. They wouldn't get it.

And "corpus" makes me want to puke. I hate that word.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Don, I think you meant "eschew obfuscation".  :^)

Indeed, thou didst most excellently increase the obfuscation.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

Yes, his comment in the margin was to the effect that "people in your future ministry won't understand these words, so don't get in the habit of using them"

He was more concise than that, but I don't have the paper handy (might be in my files somewhere)

Some big words people should learn ("propitiation" - its in the Bible) but the preacher should always be careful to explain them. However, in a paper like this, I recognize Mark thinks in terms of a seminary audience, so he is used to talking that way. I think it obscures things if someone in the great unwashed should stumble across his blog. They wouldn't get it.

And "corpus" makes me want to puke. I hate that word.

I understand what you are getting at, Don (though I don't understand your particular aversion to "corpus"), but I'm mostly of the opinion that if we try to simplify our language too much (without taking time to learn words like propitiation), we are going to lose the ability to even read  or even "puzzle out" documents that are only ~200 years old (like the U.S. founding documents).  The ability of U.S. society (which thinks itself so evolved) to read and understand concepts from the past is already at a nadir (that's a "low point" for you language simplifiers).  And I'm concerned that in simplifying language too much, when reading important documents like the Bible or the Declaration of Independence, we will lose fine meaning (and fuller understanding) when attempting to translate them to simpler, supposedly "better" language in the name of what...just making things easier?

Of course we don't need to sound like your pseudo-King James example (though I did enjoy it!), but simpler and easier is not always better.

Dave Barnhart