If either of the two paths are taken exclusively, then the more successful is the living language alone path is better than the classroom setting alone path. But in the ideal world, it is best to have both paths with both settings: learning and studying. These ways are how knowers and teachers come to be what they are. The critical point in all of this is that studies show that the highest level of success in learning a language comes from the combination of both, so I would like to apply this to understanding the meaning of holy. The second critical point is that real life is better than classroom. The third critical point is that less than the living learning is the classroom option. Keep in mind though that it is still better than no teaching in a classroom setting assuming real life learning isn't happening either.
Before I go too far, I would like to picture what the simple combination of learning and studying looks like, then what overall failure looks like, and then what overall success looks like in learning another language. Here first is the simple combination:
The first thing to realize is that it is important for the vertical axis to precede the horizontal axis, but that neither is exclusive of the other. It is like it is in carpentry, if you want a stable wall you need to know both the vertical and horizontal lines using a level to have a stable form of construction. Well, the same rules follow for learning a language.
The next diagram is a combination of factors that lead to an overall greater amount of failure in learning a new language. It s a diagram of classroom learning outweighing the amount of real learning. This is sometimes why the classroom fails. There is not the ideal of both in equal balance with each other. So it looks like this:
So too much of the classroom with all four steps versus only two steps for real life learning moves us away from success and toward failure. I have a real life example of this in that I remember Greek and Chinese better than I do Hebrew, Spanish, and French; because the former were taught with stronger elements from real life than were the others with mainly classroom input. By the way, my Hebrew has improved mainly through the use of tools that make the learning of it more like learning in a living language setting. I owe a lot to three people here: Dr. Donald N. Larson, Dr. Betty Sue Brewster, and Dr. William A. Smalley. They all had missionary experience and use the tools of real life situations to enhance their knowledge of foreign languages. William LaSor of Fuller Theological Seminary, also introduced some of these elements in the seminary setting which is why my Greek continues to stay with me.
The next diagram pictures what overall success (the ideal) looks like in learning any foreign languages including ancient Hebrew that does not offer us "native" speakers. Dr. LaSor from Fuller also wrote a text that balances things better (moving toward ideally) for Hebrew learning and studying and learning. It looks like:
I do want to make some concessions about these diagrams to avoid confusing their message. The diagrams are a little misleading in two ways, if they stand alone and a person does not read my comments. The first is that the column on the right by itself does not mean failure any more than the left column all by itself means success. The difference is that in a broken world, where these are not balanced, the failure is greater, if you only possess the methods on the right. The other correction, that I will correct at a later time, is that my Western World bias comes out in placing things moving from left to right. If I were to follow Solomon's wisdom texts, the columns would move from right to left in terms of preference.
So I hope this has been helpful. When I am studying the word holy in ancient Hebrew I try to keep in mind that I must look at things from both columns and not just one. For example, I must ask even though I am an outsider coming into the Hebrew language, "How did they learn this?" "What does the insider see?" "What makes them speak this with ease?" "What things are similar between our languages, so I can effectively associate with their ideas?" Finally, I always need to ask, "How is my balancing act going?" All of this applies to learning just one ancient word as well, "Is my view of holy learned the way they did?" "Am I standing on the inside or can I see what the insider sees?" "Is this getting any easier or am I making it all more difficult than it is in real life?" "What things I know are similar to what they know?" Finally, I have to ask, "Is the balance getting better (more and more toward the ideal and relying less and less either one column)?
These questions state implicitly my goals. The real life column is very valuable, so whenever you can, try to learn and study the biblical languages using a method that consists of both ideal columns. LaSor and others practice this fairly well. May God bless all of our efforts to understand ancient languages and the critical ancient words for holy!