Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Bible Translations: Old paradigms are hard to break

There are many Bible translations, supporters of each insisting that theirs is the correct one, in fact as Paul said in 1 Corinthians, we are merely “seeing through glass darkly.” We will not address the “word of God” issue for as we have said before, God needed to translate the Greek to English on a stone like the Ten Commandments, but similar to the Rosetta Stone.

Firstly, problems occur when translators use lexicons that have been complied by previous translators. OK let say you have decided to create a new New Testament translation. You take out your trusty New Testament lexicon and start translating. Wait a minute, how can you make a new translation by using the same words that the other translators used! Case in fact, on the cross Jesus was given in John 19:29 what is translated as hyssop. This is the same herb that was mysteriously mixed with lamb’s blood and put on the doors and lintels by the Hebrews during the original Passover. The PDR of Herbal Medicines says that this herb is used for liver and gall bladder complaints and in some rare cases it can cause tonic-clonic spasms if used over a number of days.

Why would this herb be given to Jesus? Apparently after taking it he fainted. You might say the author of the gospel of John got carried away and wanted to use the Passover symbolism on Jesus’ blood, but no credit is given to the Old Testament scripture as in the preceding verse for “I thirst” quoting Psalms 69:21 “They gave me poison for food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”. From this we can see where the vinegar came from that was mixed with the hyssop in John 19:29. Vinegar also occurs before the crucifixion in Luke 23:36 when the soldiers offered it to Jesus while mocking him.

So was it hyssop or something else? Perhaps it is the term like “grass” that is the hippie word for marijuana. Maybe it is opium. We may never know for sure unless some document is known that defines what hyssop meant to the Jews or Essenes. Kind of harks back to the member of the original Dead Sea Scroll team, John Allegro, who got in trouble with his book: "The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross". Well, in any case, I think it is clear that the use of the New Testament dictionary will not lead to a new translation, just a recitation of the same old New Testament.

Secondly, when you do your translation, you will inevitably be cheating because there is very little possibility that you have not read the previous translated versions or heard someone tell you the story according to these translations. You would need to be visitor from outer space to be without knowledge of the New Testament! So here are some verses that are a good example of assumptions not valid. The scene in John 19:25-27 are three Mary’s at the cross (John does not have four). Then there is also the disciple, whom Jesus loved, standing near them. Jesus says “Mother here is your son” and then to the disciple, “Here is your mother”. Simple enough you would say: Jesus like a good son is wanting for his mother to be cared, as she is a widow. But the translators have been sloppy because they think they know what is meant.

In John 19:25 it is very specific to say “the mother of him” right after the word Jesus. Clearly this is Mother Mary, standing next to a sister Mary, and Mary Magdalene. It might be noted that “sister” is really sister as in a convent, but that is a whole other story. In the next verse, Jesus says, “Woman, consider this child of you." The translators have assumed that “woman” refers to his Mother, but let us suppose as the "DaVinci Code" book has told us (excuse me quoting Dan Brown “fiction” that is actually true), Mary Magdalene is pregnant!

Think about what Jesus is saying, if he is addressing the pregnant Mary Magdalene, “Woman, consider this child of you” or in other words, “Take care of our expected son” and in the next verse to the disciple “Consider this mother of you” or in other words, “Take care of Mary Magdalene who is to be a mother.” You will note the word gunÄ“ can be translated “wife or woman” and has actually been translated “wife” in other verses when the context called for it. But most importantly it is used in John 20:15 where Jesus (or his resurrected body if you like) is clearly talking to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, Woman, why are you crying?”

So what makes more sense when Jesus is up on the cross in pain for him to take consolation in the fact that he his leaving behind a child (hopefully a son as he only knows the ways of the Jewish-Essene sexist religion or shall I say Roman-Catholic) or to be concerned about his mother like a good Jewish boy or a God?

So now you are on your way to being a radical translator or as the Church would say, "a heretic". So far, by using an open mind, you have found two interesting points about Jesus on the cross: "hyssop" is not what it seems and may in fact be some drug that makes Jesus appear as if he is dead and that Jesus on the cross is concerned for his pregnant Mary Magdalene and his child and wants them to be cared for. Much more research is necessary, but it is a start of breaking the old paradigms and finding a new one that is based upon truth.