Translational Interpretation

Have you ever said or heard someone say of scripture something along the lines of "translation is not a big deal", "examining original language is not important" or my personal favorite, "English is all we need"? After all, "for God so loved the world, that he gave English as the ultimate authority, that whosoever should read KJV, should not despair, but have the greatest of insight." If KJV was good enough for the apostle Paul, it's good enough for me.

Let me offer a brief example of why it is important and a big deal.

There is a saying that goes, "translation is by nature interpretation." What that means is every translator has a bias about what a given text says or means.

How much does that translator understand the culture, idiomatic expression, use of symbolism, metaphor and key words or phrases prominent at specific times in varying sects for multiple theologically driven and illustrative purposes? There are other details of which one must be aware as well, but what I am communicating is that the translation of specific texts could be translated to say opposite things, depending on the translator and what he deems is proper context. His conclusions may very well be theologically and even doctrinally driven. This is why numerous denominations have chosen to produce their own translations. It is not that they intend to manipulate it, or twist the text to reflect what they want, it may be they choose within the parameters of the text to translate it another legitimate way, more true to what they feel is within the framework of context, culture, etc.
What if I told you that in the original language of the New Testament - which is Greek - there could be a statement with all capital letters (uncial script), no spaces or punctuation that in English could look like this:


No doubt you can read such a sentence. But when making it proper and translating it into correct English, it can take varying forms:

Surprised by Jesus, God and King.

Surprised by Jesus' God and King.

Surprised by Jesus, god and king.

All three come from the same text, all three are legitimate forms, but all three can give completely different theological conclusions. The difference of a comma or apostrophe can dramatically alter one's way of deciphering or exegeting the text. And amazingly, there was little to no punctuation in the original. So naturally, what I already thought about the given subject reflected in the specific text would play a substantial role in what I capitalized, where I put the apostrophe, comma and period, thus affecting how others - who may be dependent on my analysis and parsing - read the text.

No comments: