The Ring of Truth (Childish Things part 2)

Did you ever play that game in Kindergarten (that's when I first remember playing it, anyway)? It's called "Telephone" and the way it works is you sit in a circle and tell a story or say a statement and then say "Pass it on.". The information, whatever it may be, makes its way around the circle and eventually ends up back at the person who thought up said statement. The object of the game is to see just how different the statement ends up being when it finally makes its way back to the source.

The phrase Traduttore, tradittore means "Translator, traitor." It's Italian and it refers to the fact that, since languages are so different in relation to one another, there can be no perfect translation of a body of work. And anyone undertaking the task of translating something from one tongue to another necessarily ends up alienating the writer and the reader by default. Somehow not retaining the "author's original intent" and passing it on to a foreign reader.

"And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined do." (Genesis 11:6) Babel is Hebrew for "confusion", by the way. And, well, "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33a).

Most, if not all (though I haven't checked, myself), of our translations of the Bible into English have gone back to the original sources in order to maintain the integrity of the original texts. Hebrew (for the Old Testament), Aramaic and Greek were then translated over the centuries into Latin and slowly, carefully, made their way into our English vernacular and have changed alongside it. I've picked through numerous translations and one verse will stand out to me and speak to me in such a way as to endear the entire edition to me, even though other verses in the same feel just a bit different than how I'm accustomed to viewing them. Again, it would seem there is no one perfect translation. But notice what Jesus says: "the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) The words that Jesus spoke over two-thousand years ago have not lost their potency through the centuries one whit. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16, emphasis mine). The words that Jesus speaks are for every ear and for every tongue. And the Holy Spirit is the one who causes what He said to come alive in our hearts and minds.

"For the word of God is quick (alive), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

I used to take issue with certain translations of the Bible that I felt did the original Hebrew and Greek a disservice. I became somewhat of a "Bible snob". The phrase "translator, traitor" resonated with me because I genuinely felt there was something akin to a conspiracy regarding the translation of God's word into a diluted and unreasonable facsimile thereof. I shared my distaste with my dad one day and he gave me a very practical way of looking at the topic. He said that when you look at a word, say "mercy"and you realize that every way it's translated in each of the disparate translations, is included within the original word, be it Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic. In other words, the Hebrew word translated "mercy"  or "lovingkindness" or "unfailing love" or what-have-you is so dense as to include every subsequent English synonym. And in turn bless each individual reader based on preference of translation. And God says, "Here, it's for you. Pass it on."

The Holy Spirit translates our prayers to God: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26) In other words (literally), the Holy Spirit takes the prayers we give to God in English and renders them in a more complete way to the Lord so as to plumb the depths that we cannot (yet) reach. This is why it's important to talk to God and develop a conversational relationship with Him.

 "Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." (Psalm 19:4a)