Democracy, Psychology: The Bible Tells Me So

This morning, I received two emails with news articles that respectively contain our Greek-based words, democratic and psychological. The respective authors of the news pieces, a rabbi and a reporter, discuss a supportive connection between the two Greekish English words and the Bible.

Our English uses of the former word derive pretty directly from a phrase we could translate as “people power” transliterated from δῆμος (dêmos) and κράτος (krátos). The latter word, by our uses, comes from ψυχή (psūkhē) and λόγος (lógos) for “soul, or personality” and “study, or statement as in logic.” Incidentally, neither democracy nor psychology, as Greek phrases, is in the Bible. Nonetheless, coincidentally, our proper noun *Bible* is from the Hebraic-Hellene or Jewish-Greek phrase to refer to the Scriptures, as in the Greek translation of [or insert into] this excerpt of Hebrew Torah, which we now call Genesis 2:4

אלה [**] תולדות השמים והארץ בהבראם ביום עשות יהוה אלהים ארץ ושמים׃

αὕτη ἡ *βίβλος* γενέσεως οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς ὅτε ἐγένετο ᾗ ἡμέρᾳ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν

Here are the connections made. First, by Rabbi Marvin Hier in his op ed piece for the Washington Post:

Rashi, in his monumental commentary on the Torah points out that G-d made the patriarch Abraham two promises, that he would have children, even though he was 100 years old, and that the land of Israel would be his. On having children, Abraham was willing to take G-d’s word for it. But when it came to the Promised Land, he insisted on a pre-condition: that G-d show him a sign of ownership. G-d concurred (Genesis 15, v. 8). For 3,500 years, land ownership in the Middle East has always required pre-conditions…. In this region, there will be a Jewish democratic state, Israel, that is here to stay and to them belongs a ‘piece of the rock.’

Second, are the connections made by op-ed writer intern Paige Chapman for the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Elizabeth Earle-Warfel (right), says psych majors at Trinity College of Florida will need 30 hours of psychology courses, including research methods, as well as 54 Bible and theology credits….
Ms. Earle-Warfel says she treats all patients with empathy, as she says the Bible guides her to. “The only difference is, in a secular counseling situation, you’re not as open to using the Bible or Scripture to illuminate unless the counselee starts the discussion,” she says.

So what? It’s words, we might say; just words. Exactly. We want them straight and hard and fast; we mix and borrow and mean things by them, we together. We make nations with people power by them. We probe our personalities by them. We find them nowhere in the Bible or make this book find them in our realities. It’s talked-about reality. And my Dad used to tell me, Mind your language.


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