There’s an old Italian proverb that warns translators about jumping in to the task: “Traduttori? Traditori!” Translation: “Translators? Traitors!” The English proverb, “Something’s always lost in the translation,” is clearly illustrated in this instance. In Italian the two words are virtually identical, both in spelling and pronunciation. They thus involve a play on words. But when translated into other languages, the word-play vanishes. The meaning, on one level, is the same, but on another level it is quite different. Precisely because it is no longer a word-play, the translation doesn’t linger in the mind as much as it does in Italian. There’s always something lost in translation. It’s like saying in French, “don’t eat the fish; it’s poison.” The word ‘fish’ in French is poisson, while the word ‘poison’ is, well,poison. There’s always something lost in translation.
But how much is lost? Here I want to explore five more myths about Bible translation.
The Whole Church with the Whole Gospel for the Whole World
HT: Tim Brister
I had an interesting conversation yesterday that reminded me this question needs to be addressed. I find many pastors, especially younger ones, are regularly wrestling with this question. They should be. The pressure to answer can be self-imposed, or forced by those in your church who complain your sermons are too long. The problem is there does not seem to be one right answer. The answer to this question largely depends on the kind of pastor you are, the quality of preacher you are, and the kind of congregation you serve. In light of this, here are a few principles that might help you answer this question in your particular context.
Every generation tends to think of itself as the one that will finally “get it right.” So we’re not going to be like those legalistic fundamentalists. We’re not going to be like our fathers who were too closely aligned with conservative politics. We’re going to have better answers on the homosexual question. We’ll “do church” a lot clearer and cleaner than those stodgy models of the past few decades. We tell ourselves that our generation represents a new kind of Christianity.
Some adjustment is necessary. We should, as a movement, self-correct. We should adapt to changing cultures. And we should reject unbiblical expressions of Christian faith.