Friday, August 5, 2016

What’s in a Translation?

As a continued effort to answer fresh and important questions about the Church, this week’s question is central of understanding our relationship with our Lord. We all know, or at least we should know, the New Testament was originally written (with the exception possibly of the Gospel of Matthew) in Greek. We also know most of the world does not speak Greek, so the Church has been translating the Holy Scriptures into local languages since the earliest days of the Church. Form the moment of Holy Pentecost, the Church has always presented the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the language of the people. As Saint Paul said, “For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10.13-14)

So you don’t speak Greek and you want to study the Holy Scriptures? All you have to go to a bookstore or online and buy a Bible right? But which Bible should you buy? There are so many to choose from, you don’t know where to start! You aren’t imaging things. In fact there are over 100 DIFFERENT English translations of the Bible in use today. Why so many? How do you pick? Does it even matter? That is the essence of this week’s “Ask Father” question.

The Church has a great deal to offer in this discussion, since the Holy Scriptures are have been established, written, authorized and interpreted by the Church. It is virtually impossible to create a perfect translation from one language to another. Cultural understandings and vocabulary are drastically different from one time to another and from one place to another. That has always been the case, even when the Old Testament was first translated from Hebrew to Greek more than two hundred years before the Birth of Christ. Is there a right or wrong translation? That, all depends on the motives of the translators. Motives are EVERYTHING when trying to sort out a translation of Holy Scripture.

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