The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Are there Flying Saucers in the Bible?


Textual Analysis - Word Study


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Keywords: UFO, unidentified flying objects, Bible, flying saucers, prophecy, Paleo-SETI, ancient astronauts, Erich von Däniken, Josef F. Blumrich, Zecharia Sitchin, Ezekiel, biblical prophecy, spacecraft, spaceship, NASA, Roswell, aircraft, propellant, extraterrestrial hypothesis, Jacques Vallee, interdimensional hypothesis, Project Blue Book, Condon Report, ancient history, Jesus, Judaism, Christianity, Middle East, end times, engines, rockets, helicopters, space travel, aliens, abductions, alien abductions, crop circles, extraterrestrials, astronomy, economics, biology, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Space Shuttle, Apollo, stars, planets, solar system, scriptures, design, fuel tank, aerodynamics, fuels, hydrogen, oxygen, wheels





Textual Analysis
Word Study

Blumrich was an engineer, with degrees in mechanical and aeronautical engineering. He was not trained in textual interpretation. Because of this, his approach is fundamentally flawed. Textual analysis isn't rocket science! ( . . . pun intended.)

One of the fundamental tools in textual analysis is the word study.

There are several steps in a Word Study:

  1. Make a list of each important word in the text. These will usually be mainly nouns and a few verbs.
  2. Look up each listed word in a large dictionary that shows the derivation and lists specialized uses such as law, medicine and theology. Typical "collegiate" dictionaries are not adequate for this purpose.

    Did you know that "check", "draft" and "instrument" can be synonyms?

  3. Look up each word in a thesaurus. Find synonyms or words with similar but not identical meanings.

    Because English has more words than any other language, English words often have narrower meanings than words in other languages. For instance, the German word Geist means both "ghost" and "spirit". Another example: there are fine shades of meaning that differentiate "royal", "regal", and "kingly". Other languages generally will only have one word for these concepts.

  4. If the text is not of recent origin, find out whether any of the words have changed meanings.
  5. Determine whether each word has its normal meaning or whether the combination of words changes the meaning.
  6. This involves several questions:

    a) Is it a phrase, e.g., Star-Spangled Banner or "The Red, White and Blue." (Often meaning "the United States flag".)

    b) Is it a two-word verb?

    Many people are not aware that English has something called a "two-word verb", which is different from a verb with a preposition.

    For example, if someone says, "Look out there!", is he saying "Be careful!" (two-word verb) or is he saying, "Look over in that direction" (verb plus preposition)?

    Common examples of two-word verbs are "look out" and "watch out". "Calm down" is probably another example. Examples of verb plus preposition are "look in", "look under", "look at", "look on", etc. But you can't "calm in", "calm under", "calm at", etc.

    c) Is it jargon, slang or an idiom?

    An idiom is a group of words where the meaning of the phrase is totally unrelated to the individual words, e.g., "You are the apple of my eye."

    Jargon means a word has a special meaning when used in a certain field such as a profession. For instance, in banking a "check" is a "draft" drawn on a bank. A "check" is one type of payment "instrument". A "promissory note" is another type of payment instrument. That is how a "check" and a "draft" and an "instrument" can be synonyms. But in the military, "draft" means "conscription".

    d) Is it a play on words?

    Good authors like to do plays on words. With translated text this is essentially impossible to detect. The only way to identify it is to read commentaries by people who are both experts in the original language and knowledgeable about the author's culture. You might think, "Yes, but considering these are religious texts, I'm sure there are no plays on words." On the contrary, biblical scholars have found numerous plays on words in various books of the Bible.

    e) Is it an allusion?

    Writers don't write "in a vacuum". This is particularly true of religious authors. One or two words may be an allusion to some other story and when the other story is considered it can give the text an entirely different meaning.

  7. Is the word a name?

    Author Mark Twain wrote a humorous essay about his trials and tribulations in studying German. One example he gives is, "I'm translating this passage, and all of a sudden I'm trying to figure out how 'Lord Christmas Tree' fits in!"

    The German word Herr can mean Lord, i.e., God. It also means "Mister". The German word Tannenbaum means "pine tree". Pine trees are often used as Christmas trees, so his German-English dictionary included that definition. Probably, Lord Christmas Tree wasn't the person doing the action. More likely, it was Mr. Tannenbaum!

    Unlike many modern American names, most biblical names have meanings. For instance, the English name Jesus comes from the Hebrew/Aramaic Yeshua, which means "savior" or "salvation". The name Ezekiel means "God is my strength". With biblical text, sometimes it is not clear whether a word is being used as a name.

  8. How is the word used in context in the text being examined?

    Blumrich's analysis is an excellent illustration of why this is crucialand of what happens if this is ignored. Ezekiel repeatedly says he saw things in visions. He repeatedly says he saw living creatures. You can't just look at small excerpts of text, you have to look at the whole text.

  9. How is the word used in texts by other authors?

    Again, Blumrich's analysis is an excellent illustration of why this is crucialand of what happens if this is ignored.

  10. Again, if we look at how Ezekiel uses the term "visions" and how other biblical authors such as Daniel use the term "visions", we see that they are talking about the exact same type of thing and nobody claims Daniel, etc., was taken up in a spaceship.

  11. Does the word have any special connotations?
  12. Which sounds better, "I practice Commercial Law," or "I'm a collection lawyer."?  They both mean exactly the same thing. A nurse once told me he had a patient who kept telling him, "I'm not a lawyer, I'm an attorney," and because I knew several people attending law school he asked me, "What is the difference?" I told him, "Absolutely nothing. It's just that to some people the word "lawyer" has negative connotations but the word "attorney" doesn't."

That is the First Stage. Additional things need to be done for foreign-language text.

  1. Determine what the word means in the original language.
  2. Again, this is crucial to avoid misinterpretation. For instance, here is a famous Bible mistranslation of something Jesus said:

    Luke 14:26 (NKJV). "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

     The Greek word miseo actually means "to love less", not "to hate".

    This is particularly important with Hebrew. Many Hebrew words have no exact translation into English. For instance, the Bible says, "The yee-rah of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."Yee-rah is half-way between "dread" and "awe". There is no English equivalent. It is usually translated "The fear of the Lord . . .", but that is somewhat misleading.

  3. Identify the correct person, number and status for verbs.
  4. Many languages have special honorific forms used to address cultural superiors. Common examples are tu and Usted in Spanish, tu and vous in French, and du and Sie in German. In German, the janitor would never address the company president in public as du, but the company president usually would address the janitor that way.

    English loses many distinctions made by Hebrew or other languages:

      informal you for one male
      informal you for one female
      informal you for several males
      informal you for several females
      formal you for one person
      formal you for several people

    For some strange reason, languages that distinguish informal and formal (honorific) don't normally distinguish between masculine and feminine in the formal forms.

    In some languages you can tell just from the word "you" whether the person talking is superior or inferior to the listener, whether the listener is male or female, and whether there is one listener or several. All that gets lost in the translation to English, with its generic "you" form.

  5. Determine the meaning of the root word in related languages.
  6. Most languages exist in language families. If the meaning of a word is unclear, it can often be clarified by seeing what the root word means in related languages. For instance, if the meaning of a medieval French word is uncertain, linguists might look at what the related Latin, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian words mean. In the case of Hebrew, related languages are Akkadian, Arabic and Aramaic/Syriac.

  7. Determine what the word means in its cultural context.
  8. To an American, "The Red, White and Blue" has special meaning. To a Briton, the Union Jack has a special meaning. Americans realize that the White House is something very unique, not just any house that happens to be white. In American slang "fag" is a derogatory term for a homosexual. In British slang it means cigarette. In British slang to "knock someone up" means to knock on their door to wake them up. In American slang it means to unintentionally make a woman pregnant.

  9. Determine whether the word has any special religious meaning.
  10. Unlike modern United States and Western Europe, in most cultures throughout history, spiritual and religious matters were an integral part of everyday life. Whether the person analyzing the text agrees with the beliefs or not, it is crucial to understand what the author's views were in order to be able to understand the text.

    For instance, Ezekiel was a Jewish priest. He clearly understood that cherubim were a particular type of angel. They are different from seraphim, a different type of angel. He also understood that the LORD, i.e., the God of Israel, is neither a cherub nor a seraph. He also knew that the generic word for "angel" is malach. If he didn't know what specific type of angel he was seeing, he would have referred to them as malachim (plural) rather than cherubim.

Yes, it is a lot of work.

But without it, the result is an analysis based on fundamental misinterpretations. It's like thinking you can buy replacement parts for an automobile without knowing the make and model of the vehicle!