“Lost” by Translation


A rather short post today, but one that has been on my mind.  One of the greatest evangelical tools of Christianity is the Scriptures in the language of the believer or potential convert.  In Islam the Qur’an is only considered to be Qur’an if it is in Arabic.  In any other tongue it becomes merely a commentary.  Similarly the Sikh’s Guru Granth Sahib is always in Punjabi when used in ceremonies.

What an advantage the Gospel has to reach the world in its own tongues! However, we who are knowledgeable have a responsibility  to keep a check on it.  Translators are human, and as such bring with them their own doctrinal baggage.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses are a case in point, with the insistence on translating all references to God, whether YHWH, Elohim, and Lord as Jehovah.  Also the Revised Standard Version notes that “43 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances (Luke 2).” What?  His parents?Look at it again in the KJV:  “43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.” It was subtle but Joseph not God is cited as Jesus’ father.  What doctrinal rubbish.  Especially in light to Jesus’ own response:   “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

As a final thought we are blessed by the Word in our own languages, but we need to read broadly and take the teachings of the Lord as a whole, becoming people of the Word, and making sure no one is lost by translation.



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