Origins

callu.deviantart.comI thought I’d duplicate some of the strenuous online-posting effort by writing my “award-winning” ideas as “nuggets”, that is, small WordPress articles to which all are welcome to contribute. Like a KFC bucket but without the calories.

This vegetarian nugget’s worth asks:

“Have sacred texts been translated
into oblivion?”

There are a number of crucial nouns and event descriptions, in well established sacred texts, that are claimed to have been grossly mistranslated over the years.

If the original meaning has been lost in translation, isn’t it easier for readers to misinterpret sacred texts? It would definitely explain why many make fools of themselves trying to match, or adapt, their perfectly valid thoughts with what sound like senseless fairy tales.

Anyone without a theological understanding of the texts is bound to miss the essential “between the lines meaning” on top of the mistranslations.

For instance, the word “Apple” in Genesis… Running a simple internet search such as “Genesis Apple Meaning Eden” will yield countless articles on theories and proven records of mistranslations.

[Image Source: callu.deviantart.com]
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5 thoughts on “Origins

  1. Hmmm, yes but… does that invalidate the need for translation? That’s why translators go back to the original Greek and Hebrew for their translations, rather than re-translating previous versions. That’s certainly the case for modern translations – thank goodness they don’t go back to the KJV, whatever it’s original beauty! It’s surely better to have a flawed English translation than only a Greek version that no-one can understand.The problem of course is that we miss the idiom, the jokes in the original Aramaic that are untranslatable, etc.

    • Hi there, and thanks for posting.

      It supports both:
      * the need for investing in accurate translation and
      * the need for readers to investigate what they read, question it, put it into context before using it to make a point or debunk a fact.

      It’s a shame that some (many, actually) completely misinterpret and devalue the beauty inscribed in sacred texts because they either ommit, or weren’t taught, to read between the lines and research their context.

      Cheers, A

      • Thanks for your reply. You are right, scripture is often taken out of context and misinterpreted. But there’s also the problem that we fail to take on board what is actually straightforward. To quote Mark Twain, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand”… :-)

  2. It’s not possible for us to understand a sacred text original meaning unless we have the opportunity to live in the original culture. The many translations of Tibetan Buddhist texts is a good example of using English words to represent things that aren’t what were meant. I suspect Christianity has an even bigger mistranslation rate..

    • Thanks, I do think the Bible is translated to a ghost of itself. Language after language… To me this means that it’s really difficult to judge a religion on the basis of what its sacred book prints and its literal interpretations, if what is printed isn’t the original meaning.

      Goes to show… No judging allowed until the critic is a Bible expert : ).

      * Noticed I’m writing really long sentences today… : /

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