James White Murders the Shema

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד

Lord knows that I’m not the biggest James White fan on the planet, and I disagree with a good ammount of what he says on any number of issues.  I’ve found myself less than impressed with the two books of his that I own (Debating Calvinism & The Forgotten Trinity) but I do respect him as an apologist and Christian brother.  Having said that, I have to tell you that I was appalled at his pronunciation of the Shema (Deut. 6:4) on a recent Dividing Line broadcast.  I know that he can read Hebrew and on occasion teaches Hebrew — but he can’t speak Hebrew!  Listen here (fast forward to 15:00 minutes into the broadcast).

I don’t take issue with him saying Yahweh instead of Adonai — Yahweh is in the text and I’m not one for substitutions, but c’mon — would it have been so hard to try and sound authentic?  Now let me be very clear before a White disciple reads this and decides to take up for James — I do NOT read Hebrew fluently — I can read a little bit.  I also do NOT speak Hebrew fluently — Aside from a few prayers that I have memorized and say when the time is right I rarely speak Hebrew at all.  But I do attend church in a city that is home to one of the largest Orthodox Jewish populations in the world, and the most prestigious Yeshiva in the country (Lakewood, NJ) — so rest assured that I have heard the Shema recited enough times to know what it should sound like. 

To hear the Shema as it should sound click here.  To hear it chanted click here.  To learn it for yourself click here.


4 thoughts on “James White Murders the Shema

  1. There are typically three or four pronunciation schemes for each biblical language.

    And in most Protestant seminaries, there are as many as there are students. ;-)

  2. Chuck: Don’t get me started on how foul Erasmian Greek sounds to my ears! But trust me, once you’ve heard a native Hebrew speaker say (or chant) Deuteronomy 6:4 you’ll never want to hear White say it again!

  3. It’s not the Erasmian scheme, it’s the multiple accents it ends up pronounced in.

    And I’ll always appreciate people reciting from the Bible, no matter how grating their accent. After all, I listen to people murder the KJV all the time.

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