Ain't Written in 'Merican Neither

So yeah, the Bible wasn't written in English. I know you already know this, but maybe you haven't given it much thought. It's so easy for us to get our hands on an English Bible, like this one, that we don't think about the fact that it was originally written some 2000 years ago (depending on which part of the Bible you're talking about) in one of three different languages (again, depending on which part of the bible you're talking about). In other words, we have some distance from the original manuscripts of these books and letters, not only in language but in culture.

Let me put it this way. Imagine this world is still turning 2000 years from now and Gone With The Wind is studied in schools as ancient literature. But English has not maintained the status it holds today as one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. In fact, imagine that in 4017, Gone With The Wind is published in Chinese more than any other language. Think about it. Is it possible that a novel written in 1936 by an American author about the Civil War era United States (70 years of distance between the author and the novel's context), and translated into Chinese some 2000 after it was first written... is it possible that perhaps something might get lost in translation? But in all honesty, a better example would be if Gone With The Wind was being translated in 4017 by a people who right now are not yet even a nation, into a language that right now doesn't even exist. That's what is taking place when the Bible is translated into English. It's being translated for a language and culture that didn't exist at the time of its writing.

This isn't anything to be afraid of. I've been studying Biblical languages for a while now (here's some info about me), and I've found it only makes the Bible more interesting. I don't think I'm the only one who will find that to be true, so I think it's worth sharing. The Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek behind our English translations offer insights that sometimes get lost in translation. Sometimes they paint a more vivid picture of the text. Sometimes they're just downright funny. Yes, the Bible can be funny, and often is. With each post I hope to focus on a word or maybe even a phrase in the original languages and show how better understanding its use in the Bible helps the passage come alive. If this sounds like something you'd like, come back often.

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