Translating accurately is really f*&%$ing hard!
Actually, learning Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek are relatively simple.
People balk at me whenever I say this, but only if they've been raised Jehovah's Witness or Fundamentalist Christian or Roman Catholic.
If you are Jewish or Greek Orthodox, you regularly use both ancient languages daily along with whatever modern language you speak. Both Jews and Greek Orthodox send their children (and teach any new converts) these languages, from infancy onward. Babes, children, teens and adults are singing and praying and even reading in Biblical Hebrew and Greek everyday.
On average, it takes an adult convert about 90 minutes to learn to identify and pronounce the basic alphabet of each respective Biblical language in religion class. Within a week they will have at least the basic prayer of each religion memorized and understood: the Shema in Hebrew or the Our Father in Greek. In one year they will be able to follow the liturgy of each respective religion in their language, and some will be reading from Scripture unaided by this time in Hebrew or Greek as well.
This means a person can also translate from these languages in this amount of time as well too. And most Jews or Greek Orthodox grow up in their religion. So what does that mean?
Most if not all Jewish and Greek liturgy (services and personal prayer and songs/chants) are in Hebrew if you are Jewish and Greek if you are Orthodox. They are available in your vernacular too, but Hebrew and Greek are always taught side-by-side, often more prominently. If you are Greek Orthodox or Jewish, you generally don't rely on Bible translations therefore or even Bible scholars. You can translate the Bible yourself. Your entire congregation can, as a matter of fact.
Sadly, it has been an issue of control and a wielding of tyrannical power that the Watchtower and some other religions insist that learning Biblical languages is something that lies outside the ability of the average person. It makes people reliant upon clerical masters who tell people that they cannot know any better or teaches them that there are too many complexities to have to decipher if they do try to learn them.
Worse yet, when a reliable ecumenical translation is available that may be free of many or most biases, these are labeled as poison by many of these abusive clergy masters. And again, because these groups are already enslaved to these masters and are told they can know no better or must rely on experts and scholars, they can do little more but act like a dog that has never known it can be treated with kindness, and obey the voice of their masters that kick and abuse them.
Babes are reciting the Shema and Our Father in Hebrew and Greek and speaking English, on their way to never needing a translation to read Scripture just like their parents and grandparents before them because they know that learning another language can be done.
You can do the same. And you don't have to be Jewish or Greek Orthodox or religious to do it. We may not all have the gift of learning a new language as easily as another, but you don't have to be a scholar either. These languages, if you want to learn them, are within your grasp. It's not too hard.
It's why context matters and simply reproducing spoken words leaves out some of the emphasis.
Sometimes we can use improved grammar constructs to help, there's a great example of the Oxford Comma here:
aOf course both the Orthodox and Jews learn more than merely how to repeat spoken words.
For instance, both Hebrew and Greek school last as long as elementary through high school years in America (and their equivalent in other countries). If you go to public school, you go to Greek or Hebrew school afterwards (the popular comedy film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" highlighted this fact for instamce). As the years go by, the grammar gets more intense and in-depth (as highlighted in the 2009 Coen brothers' film "A Serious Man").
Footnotes in your Hebrew Bible and siddur (prayer book) have philological notations, and philology is also not absent from Greek Orthodox worship. In fact, it's liturgical worship (which is central) is built around around a constant philological catechesis which mirrors the philology upon which the Jewish sages labor over in the Talmud.
The idea that people are reliant upon a clerical class for scholarship that is out of reach of the common person has often lead to tyrannical authoritarian rule in Christendom as well as our shared experience in the Watchtower. Many among the ultra-Orthodox and some of their rabbinate are just as guilt of this tyranny today as well.
(By the way, I am right in Hurricane Irma's path. Signing off. Hitting the road. Take it easy! Shalom!)
David_Jay and everyone else in Nature's Path. Please stay safe!
Big hugs of concern for all!
Watchtower made are on the same plane as preschoolers reading material IMO.
Any one remember Rodney Dangerfield's movie 'Back to School'?
There was a scene when Rodney's character is confronted by his love interest/professor who states that Kurt Vonnegut had no idea about Kurt Vonnegut.
Remember, Kurt V was tutoring Rodney on his books and she [the professor] said, who ever did this report knows nothing about Kurt V.
That's what it seems like when listening to JW speak about the bible or reading a WTS publication about biblical prophesy. Seems like stuff is just made up on the spot
Over 90% of the world could not read or write during the time we've been told the Bible books were written. Why would an all powerful all loving god use this way to communicate his wishes to the people , knowing all to well that men that could read would just tell the people what they wanted in order to get power and wealth?
Hi Crazy Guy,
It's worth mentioning that the bible was written after Jesus started his church. He instructed the apostles to teach all that he had commanded them to. He never said to write it down. He never wrote anything down [that we know of anyway]. the bible was put together by the Catholic church by those who knew how to write, but the church was grown through the spoken word and the bible came after as an account of the church.
Matt 28;20 New International Versionand teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
The 900-plus page "Catalogue Of English Bible Translations" (W. Chamberlin, 1991) lists 151 categories - not just translations, but categories of translations - of just the English versions of god's word.
With so many attempts at it, you'd think at least one translation would have got it right and then there would be no need for the other translations.
Why, why, why are there so many English translations?
Couldn't the one true God have told us about the one true faith in one reliable, readable holy writ?
Couldn't he have resurrected the original inspired texts like some dead sea trolls that keep popping up here? Does he not speak the language of the one true church (English)?
That is a great point. So many translations from people and groups who say they know better and they know the truth about the bible.
Isn't it common sense to go to the people who gave the world the bible for proper teaching of what it actually means?
40,000 Christian groups. 39,999 started by men or women.
1 started by Jesus...
hmm, which one would be the closest to the real truth?
New World Translation?...impossible
The Truth Will Set You Free