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Lost in translation
Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009
In our last two sessions in Crete, my small group had an extended digression about translation.
The Nature and Mission of the Church document we were studying was translated into French, German, Spanish and Russian, all languages that originated in Europe. Translating is expensive and difficult, especially for highly technical theological jargon. The truth is that the World Council of Churches doesn’t have the money to translate the document into every language on the planet.
But, reflected some friends from Africa and Asia, we need to recognize that even the languages we choose to offer send a message about who’s important and who’s not, who’s valued and who’s not, or even who’s a priority and who’s not. When we translate documents into European languages alone and then ask the world community to respond, it can feel like the people who speak those languages are the ones we want to hear from most.
At these global church meetings, we often have conversations like this – about how to widen the table, how to invite more people into the conversation, how to make sure information is available to everyone and that everyone’s voice is heard.
This morning, I saw on CNN that a pastor in North Carolina is planning to burn Bibles that aren’t the King James Version (one of the earliest translations of the texts into English).
I wonder if he knows that all around the world people have been translating the Bible into all kinds of other languages, from Armenian to Zulu, for centuries.
Yep folks, there’s still work to do.
Posted by Aimee Moiso