Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 4 (4)


The Echo in Celebration book gives many examples of the classical model and how it relates to a Christian worldview.

The skills can be summarized in a number of ways. Proverbs calls them knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Classical educators call the skills the trivium—grammar, logic (or dialectic), and rhetoric. Hebrews mentions them as elementary truths, distinguishing, and maturity. Computer programmers refer to the tasks as input, processing, and output.

Whatever you want to call the skills, you can’t expect wisdom to occur without knowledge and understanding. They always work together no matter whether you are forming a hermeneutical study or trying to become a car mechanic. Dorothy Sayers’ essay also contains many practical examples.

Grammar is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary (1982) as the “basic principles of an area of knowledge,” like the grammar of music. The ability to memorize the fundamental ideas and concepts of a particular subject has been lost because moderns no longer think memorizing is important.

Grammar schools trained students to complete recitations to prove there was actually knowledge in their heads and that they were capable of learning large quantities of information. They didn’t necessarily understand the data memorized, but the muscle called the brain was regularly fatigued and stretched much like a marathon runner. Now moderns argue that we can just look up information, so this skill is no longer thought important. As a result, our brains atrophy.

Dialectic is the reconciliation of ideas, facts, and information. It is the ability to discover the fundamental ideas and concepts of a particular subject and apply that information to other particular subjects. It is also called thinking. This was historically taught through parsing sentences in many languages.

If a student had memorized the conjugations for “to be” in English, they could better understand “Yahweh” in Hebrew. They could figure out how language worked.

Rhetoric is the consequence of ideas. It is the ability to share the fundamental ideas and concepts of a particular subject in such a way that a broad range of ideas could be interrelated. This is what a teaching pastor does when he expounds on God’s Word in light of the author’s original intent and relates it to the common troubles of modern man.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved.

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