Monday, August 24, 2015

How not to Study with the Original Languages

Hey, here we are. I remembered the day of the week and properly prepared for a blog post idea. Because of my failure as of late, I would like to share with you a cool video.

Yeah, so that's what happens when you put a song through Google Translate a bunch of times. Funny. I guess Google Translate isn't very good, or words in different languages don't have a one-to-one correlation, or both. Probably both.

But anyway, onto our content today, I want to start with a story. Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a good friend of mine. The wedding was beautiful. But I am sad to say the officiate of the wedding did little to impress me.

He starts talking about this arboretum that was apparently important to the couple, and that was just dandy, but then he goes on to explain that this arboretum if we went to the Greek would be translated as Paradeisou, which happens to just be the same word that is translated for the Garden of Eden in the Septuagint, which is obviously a picture of heaven, so now let's talk about heaven.

Wait, what? I don't understand how you can go from English to Greek to English and expect something to be ok. I mean, yeah an arboretum and a garden are similar things and you could make that case from the English text, but in that case, why complicate the matter and go to Greek in the first place?

By now, you have already seen that my fun video isn't quite as random as I tried to make it seem. It actually fits in with the topic today. Greek (or Hebrew) do not possess a one-to-one correlation with English, nor with each other, nor with any other language. This means that it is not good for us to take words in and out of one language and into another because that can drastically alter the meaning of the text.

Maybe sometimes, it's better not to go into the original tongues at all if you're going to keep going back and forth. Maybe one should be careful about talking about how we get our word martyr from the term martyrio that means witness. Because let's just be honest. English is a language that was developed long after Greek and its meaning of words had no effect on the Greek itself.

Or maybe more importantly, we shouldn't see the original languages as a catch-all for every interpretational question. It's not a perfect thing. It still will leave some questions, and many times, the word of God has been faithfully preserved so that the translation is actually the way it should be.

But Greek and Hebrew is very much different in nuance at times and in understanding and should still be studied as often as possible, but not to the extent that you believe them to be catch-alls or that you use them as tools to manipulate everything into your gain.

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