Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And Many Happy Returns

A celebration - or perhaps better said, a recognition is underway throughout the Christian world.  2011 marks 400 years since the publication in 1611 of the King James Bible. There are many good books out.  I recommend Alister E. McGrath's "In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language and a Culture".  If I lived near New York City I would drop by the American Bible Society building at West 61st and Broadway and see their current exhibit of Biblical illustrations,"On Eagles' Wings".  The title is taken from Exodus 19:4 - "Ye have seen...how I bare you on eagles' wings and brought you unto myself".

This focus on the King James Bible has me thinking about language and the difficult art of translation.  For centuries people have gone to war over words.  "Being of one substance" is different than "being of the same substance".  Both are phrases that describe the Holy Trinity at the core of Christian belief.  The original text was in Greek.  Then there were Latin translations.  And since then, there has been controversy.

Everyone should take a turn at translation.  If you think you don't know a foreign language, listen to kids.  A teacher I know had his class translate some Shakespeare into the shortened language of text messaging.  Then they discussed what was gained and what was lost in the translation.  The authors of the King James Bible used simple language that tells the story with nouns and verbs.  The action is easy to follow.  400 years later, it is still a best seller.  Modern translations use contemporary grammar but don't do any better at describing each scene.   Plan your own recognition and read the Bible today.

No comments:

Post a Comment