Saturday, August 19, 2017

Thoughts on translation: Part 3: Ask for guidance

Song of Solomon: timeless love poetry in contemporary calligraphy.  

The title page's central text is:"THE HOLY BIBLE,Conteyning the Old Testament,AND THE NEW:Newly Translated out of the Original tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised, by his Majesties speciall Comandement.Appointed to be read in Churches.Imprinted at London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majestie.ANNO DOM. 1611 ."At bottom is:"C. Boel fecit in Richmont.".
King James Bible, first authorized
English translation, 1611. 
In the Middle Ages, people who translated the Bible from Latin into English, or who simply advocated it, could be excommunicated and burned at the stake.  By the early 17th century, political and social change paved the way for the King James translation. Today, the consensus among most American clergy is that spiritual meaning is more important than grammati-cal details.  We are a nation of many religions, which co-exist by respecting each other's customs.  

Ask your minister (and your god) about modifying scripture in the service of art; my ministers confided that "We all do that,” tweaking their translation so the listener understands it better.  Think about how Handel's Messiah oratorio added profound depth to scripture, even though his librettist rewrote the words to suit the music.  Find out how much latitude your own church or temple allows, so you can be comfortable when you choose a translation, add your art, and share it.     

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