Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Issue of Translating

Lingamish and Aristotle (a.k.a. J.K.Gayle) have raised some nice questions about our wordy communications. Lingamish rightly shows us why word order should not be followed. For me for the moment, I slavishly follow word order as an experience of learning a foreign tongue. When I move into 'real' translation, and not this basic learning process, I may become freed from some voluntary restrictions. J.K.Gayle has a brilliant post on Aristotle - so fast moving, so undermining of assumption, so secure in his study - what a delight to try and catch the wind in his wild ride.

He also asked me some questions best answered in a separate post.

The questions: I see the work with patterns (in the text). Do you believe God had agency with translators (even with their reversals) AS he was inspiring the scriptures? If so, do you believe God has any agency with your translating the scriptures now? As you see the patterns and transpose them into the wonderful prosodic images, is he inspiring his scriptures still in that? ... One more thing: I think Aristotle has no Christian translation theory. But I do think we translators get theory and practice in translation from Jesus. Would you agree?
The first clarification has to do with canon. Canon is sufficient and inspired is a word that canon applies to itself - as in that usual citation from Timothy somewhere. But canon is not exhaustive. The work of the Spirit, and God is Spirit, is not confined to the book. (The canon also says this in John's Gospel towards the end.)

Secondly, does God have agency with translators? Of course. And with the citations of the LXX in the NT? We assume so. And with my vision and drafting? (Hiatus) Translation is too big a word for what I do at present. I feel I have only 'translated' perhaps 2 or 3 of the 115 I have drafted so far. I am translating first to my own framework. Then I will refine and correct my drafts. Then, if possible, I will attempt some translations. But is God in it?

God in a sentence is like null in an expression. Unqualified, null means "I don't know". In any well-formed expression, a programmer must qualify a potential null value, or the result of the expression is also "I don't know". So it is with God in a sentence.

But as with C. S. Lewis whose book Surprised by Joy J.K.Gayle cites, I work on the basis that my surprise is from God - because I learned what I think I know, and the name of the one by whom I am known, through the obedience of the faith of Jesus Christ. What my end is, I do not know, but the beginning and the continuing is - Taste and see that the LORD is good, blessed is the one who trusts in him.

The qualification of God in the sentence is the human. As Rambam said of his work (thank you John for the hard work) - "... should you have been the only one during my lifetime it would have satisfied me".

Finally, do I think translators get theory and practice in translation from Jesus? Just considering the historical aspects of the written words that we have from the NT:
  1. The NT in testifying to the faithfulness of Jesus uses the Psalms more than any other book of Scripture.
  2. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews uses the Psalms exclusively to document the dialogue between the Father and the Son.
Quite apart from the personal experience of being human in the presence of his faithfulness, these observable facts of the textual record invite a serious reading of the Psalms. How indeed, did Jesus read them? How does he read them with us today?

1 comment:

J. K. Gayle said...

How indeed, did Jesus read them? How does he read them with us today?

Now, that is brilliant, Bob! (Thanks for the link and generous kind but...) Thanks for the many-thought(s)-provoking posts, especially this one on "The Issue of Translating." And thank you for your last question here. There's hardly a more comforting statement than anyone could give.