Wednesday, 29 July 2015
As soon as we open a Bible and attempt to say what it says, we are engaging in commentary. This is as true of the "sola scriptura" approach as it is of Catholicism and Rabbinic Judaism. When a mode of commentary is passed on from generation to generation, we have a tradition, which exists alongside, or in competition with other traditions, so to speak.
A distinct, yet unvoiced, Protestant tradition is the assumption that commentary, theology, etc. can be based on the Bible in translation. As someone (I wish I could remember his name) has aptly put it, translators are arbiters of the Bible's meaning. Translation itself is commentary, as anyone who works in the original languages observes when comparing the multiplicity of translations to the Hebrew or Greek texts.
I point this out because, it seems to me, the idea of a biblically acceptable range of resignification is fundamentally flawed if it is based on this dominant Protestant tradition.
Take, for example, Jesus twice-told quote, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." The Hebrew of Hosea 6:6 (hafatzti hesed) can be understood only in the context of the rich linguistic heritage embodied in the word "hesed" and its association with other concepts (mishpat and rachamim, for example). This heritage is obscured in the translations.
If essential linguistic concepts are obscured, how much more are advanced concepts such as "resignification" removed from their biblical contexts when they are based on the Bible in translation.
I do not mean to say that basing our thought on the Bible in the original languages guarantees that we will arrive at an acceptable range of resignification. It is only the starting point.
Carl Kinbar 02:17pm