Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Book Review: His Name is One

A pastor friend of mine asked me to review a book: His Name is One, supposedly about the meanings of the Tenach's various names for God.

The first chapter of the book is an example of good scholarship. A word root is studied by finding the words that are based on it, seeing how all these words are used in context, and then looking for patterns in denoation and connotation. This is easy to do with any good Bible software. That chapter also does a nice job explaining what Hebrew word roots are and how words are built off them.

The rest of the book is terrible. Sound scholarship is abandoned for a theory mocked by Hebrew scholars which hypothesizes that Hebrew word roots are actually pictogram sentences. This theory does not work, however. For an easy example (if you have the book) follow what the letter Dalet supposedly means according to the author. It means whatever he wants at the moment! Meanings only slightly related to the supposed pictogram-meaning are pulled out of the air, in a manner just as slippery as the meaning given to Tarot cards by a fortune teller.

Not surprisingly, the book is published by the creator of the pictogram-sentence-theory, Jeff Brenner, who has primarily popularized his theory through his website. I assume Brenner genuinely believes his theory. It is a shame pastors are being falsely told it is acceptable scholarship.