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Across the Whole

Over the weekend I took in the latest episode of the OnScript podcast, a podcast dedicated to presenting “conversations on current biblical scholarship.” Featured in this episode is British Eastern Orthodox priest and theologian John Behr who has translated several works by Early Church Fathers such as Origen and Irenaeus. I appreciated his comments on translation around the 30:00 minute mark:

I’ve come to love ever more the work of translation. When you read a text, you read it, you kind of follow the argument, you might make notes, you write down quotations…but when you translate a text, you’ve got to pay attention to how every word is used across the whole of text in a way that you would never think about it when you’re just reading a text in translation… You’ve got to know how each word is used across the whole of the work to know how to be able to translate it, so your knowledge of the work becomes incredibly deeper in doing that. You really get in to thinking the way the author thinks.

I’ve found something similar to be true in my work as a translation consultant. It’s one thing to read the Bible, it’s quite another to translate the Bible. The process of translation takes the translator deeper into the thought of the author than the process of reading takes the reader. Translation forces you to wrestle with a text whereas reading let’s you keep moving forward at your own pace. Additionally, with translation you have to hold the whole of the text in your mind, remembering how a word or phrase was translated paragraphs or chapters ago, or in the case of Bible translation, books ago.

The Herdsman of Tekoa

I’d appreciate your feedback. To keep up with my Hebrew and Greek, every day I translate the Bible following on the suggestion by my professor Heath Thomas. I’m currently alternating between the books of Amos and James. Here’s an excerpt from Amos which I invite you to give feedback on the naturalness of the English—no need to compare with other versions. In other words, when you read it aloud,

  • Does anything sound awkward?
  • Anything sound off?
  • Anything you would say differently, even if just one word?

You must know that the goal of my translation is to communicate clearly to my kids, without necessarily avoiding bigger vocabulary words. I’m not sure I always succeed, but this remains a sort of first draft anyways. As such, please note that I’ve not done any sort of spellcheck on this. I’ve drafted it using Paratext, the software which translators of non-dominant languages use when doing their Bible translations. In order for the translator to take advantage of Paratext’s spellchecking abilities, you first have to teach it your language so it knows what to look out for. I haven’t done that yet and, plus, I enjoy getting a experience closer to that of many of the translators with whom I work. Also, I haven’t put verse numbers because I want you to just read it.

Opening (Amos 1:1-2)

The words of Amos, one of the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw in a vision concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah and Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel. This was two years before the earthquake. He said, “The Lord roars from Zion and from Jerusalem his voice thunders. The shepherd’s pastures are dried up and the top of Mt. Carmel dries out.

Crimes of Damascus (Amos 1:3-8)

Here’s what the Lord says, “Because of three crimes of Damascus and because of the fourth I won’t hold back punishment; because they have trampled them, Gilead, with iron threshing sledges. I will send fire upon the house of Hazael such that it will consume the guard shacks of Ben-hadad. I will break down the gates of Damascus and wipe out the people in the valley of Aven and they king holding the scepter from Beth-eden and the people of Aram will be exiled to Kir,” says the Lord.

“I won’t hold back punishment; because they made entire villages go into exile, handing them over to Edom. I will send fire against the walls of Gaza; it will devour its guard shacks. I will wipe out the people of Ashdod and the king holding the scepter from Ashkelon. I will turn my hand against Ekron and those who remain of the Philistines,” says the Lord God.

Music is a Moral Law

Musician Anika Paulson opened her TED talk “How I found myself through music” with the following quote:

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
— Plato

We’ve found Plato’s words to ring true even today in our daily lives. There’s not much that takes place in our household that doesn’t take place to music. Even outside the house, in the car, while playing volleyball, tunes, melodies and beats complete the airwaves around us.

It’s our opinion that anything you can do it’s better to do it with music. Is that going too far? 🎵

Why Can’t Everyone Speak the Same Language?

Our kids have fallen in love with listening to podcasts at bedtime. In fact, they’ve become an essential part of our evening routine. Bathe, brush your teeth, grab your blanky, and cuddle up with digital transmissions of audible education. Vermont Public Radio’s But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids is one at the top of our list, alongside Brains On and Wow in the World. These are some of the best podcasts for kids.

Seeing as language and all things linguistical are quite close to our hearts, we were delighted when But Why took time to respond to the question, Why are there so many languages in the world? No surprise that this question featured in But Why‘s frequently asked questions episode. We won’t spoil it for you. Instead, gather the whole family together and head on over to take a listen. No need to wait until bedtime.