Thursday, June 25, 2009

Literal Translation?

Street Language
In 1960, I took with me several former drug addicts back into the concrete jungle of Houston’s drug culture. I listened as my group begin to explain what had happened to them. "High on Jesus" was one of the terms used. "Jesus is my joint" (I’m fixed on Jesus) and "my stash" (where my stuff is located) is now the Bible. I could only listen as they they communicated with each other. Two of my guys, Joe Lee Kirkpatrick and Bobby Mankin were amazing witnesses for Jesus as they brought their friends and others into our "Big House" that housed about 15 guys at a time. There seemed to be no obstacles to these boys in the words used to communicate the salvation of God. Bible translators have always had great problems finding equivalents for words used in some languages. Martin Luther had a difficult time translating from Hebrew, Greek and Latin into German. For Luther, many animals in the older languages were obscure or confusing. He could not figure out what a tragelaphus was. He had trouble with oryx, mygale, pygargus and camelopardus. So, he substituted the names of familiar creatures for the ones of which he was not acquainted. His era, the 1600th century, knew nothing about the chameleon. So, he translated it "weasel. The Bulu (of Africa) have no words for "trust’ and "holy." Also "righteous" is rendered "straight" and "grace" is translated "kind." The Valiente tribesmen of Panama have no word for "Holy Spirit." So, they use their references to the tree spirit, house spirit and the long-armed monkey spirit. Looking further we find that the Oceania’s Ponape tongue has no reference to "father." However, it does have four or five different ways to say "brother." Since the Barrow Eskimos do not tend sheep, Psalm 100:3 is translated: "We are his people, and the woolly goats of his pasture." They do not call Jesus "the Lamb of God." To them He is a "Seal Pup." Well, so much for literal translations. Who would have thought?

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