The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I am taking a course in Biblical Hebrew at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio in nearby Delaware, OH. The people and atmosphere are very welcoming. It is amazing the way you can feel the denominational tradition of a place just by walking around. It feels very Protestant and very good. I am glad to be a guest on this campus and anxious to see how it looks as the Fall unfolds. I would love to linger longer, but after class I need to scurry away to work.

It is the second day of class and I already got the alphabet down pat, including the 5 final-ending letters. How's that for kicking ass and taking names . . . er, letters?

This class puts me in such a good mood. My peak creative hours are in the morning, and I get to put them to use in a meaningful way. Squandering them at work is no small sin.

I just love getting into languages. It is one thing to read a commentary that describes the Ancient Israelites as having a holistic understanding of themselves and the world/universe. It is quite another to experience that in their actual words and thought categories expressed in language.

While the Ancient Israelites would talk of the whole person, it was the Greeks who separated people into body, mind and soul. This fragmentation deepened in the western world through the Enlightenment, assisted by the increased specialization in the sciences in our modern day. It is only been recently that there has been a much-needed return to holistic understandings. I'm sure the tide will swing back someday, but as of right now we are still just beginning the trek to holism, in my opinion.

I'm a big believer in language study. In fact, you can count me among the folks who would bring back traditional Classics education*. If I had my way, Rhetoric, Philosophy, Theology and a rigorous education in classical languages (Greek and Latin) would be requirements of all undergraduates. These courses used to be standard but have since fallen by the wayside in favor of multiculturalism. While I appreciate a multicultural approach, as well, what I think really happened is that universities let go of the "western civ" pillars and didn't replace them with a whole heck of a lot.

As a side note, I would require a course in Shakespeare of all students, too.


* I realize it may be very white-male of me to support the Classics. There are other stories to tell, as well, such as Africa-American and feminist voices. But I also think we lost something when we overlook the foundation of our own culture. We gained breadth but lost a lot of depth by trying to cover so many voices. I think there is something wrong if a person makes a reference to Shakespeare or throws out a Latin phrase in conversation and can't assume that other educated people will understand. It is also a problem when as citizens of a democracy even educated folks can't filter through the rhetoric and illogic of our political leaders and the BS of our religious leaders to make well-reasoned decisions of their own. An education in the Classics is/was designed to address this. Maybe an alternative would be that every undergrad would pick a libertal arts track and stick to it, such as the Classics tract or something else--that way, they could have the depth and breath in a particular approach, but it would not be a requirement for every student to study only the Greco-Roman tradition.


  1. My goal for taking Hebrew is to prepare myself for doctoral work in Biblical studies, for which Hebrew, Greek and probably even German would be essential even before applying to a program. I picked Hebrew because it was offered at a reasonable time/place with my work schedule.

    I don't know if I'm going on to doctoral work, but it is one of my options, and I figure it is better to start the languages sooner rather than later.

    However, If I go onto pursue PhD work in Ecclesiology or something else, Hebrew just wouldn't have much (or any) direct influence. Greek would have been a better option at this point since I am still unsure and it is applicable either way.

    But as a lifelong learner, I know that all knowledge is useful. The issue is that time is limited and there are a lot of languages to learn.

    Nevertheless, I'm happy with my choice.

  2. The classics rock. Welcome, and enjoy your Hebrew!