I beleive the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated, copied, and interpreted correctly. In the course of my studies of the Bible, I've discovered that it has a long and convoluted history. So, these are my discoveries and my musings of Christian history and doctrines.

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Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Differences in Daniel 2:43

Those who are conversant in two or more languages know for a fact that there are just some words or phrases that just do not translate well into other languages. In fact, a word from one language may not even exist in another language. How do you translate that?

Today there are many different translations of the Holy Bible, and not all of them are the same for every single verse contained in the Bible. I, personally, own seven different translations of the Bible. I have what is the traditional Bible for many Americans - the King James Version. I also have a Parallel Bible (The Complete Parallel Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books (New York, Oxford University Press, 1993)) that contains the New Revised Standard Version, the Revised English Bible, the New American Bible, and the New Jerusalem Bible displayed in parallel columns next to each other to facilitate comparison between the four. I also own a Bible in Spanish, and the Hebrew Tanakh with it's own English Translation. An example of different translations giving different meanings to the same verse is shown below for the scripture of Daniel 2:43.

King James

"And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave to one another, even as iron is not mixed with clay."
New Revised Standard
"As you saw the iron mixed with clay, so will they mix with one another in marriage, but they will not hold together, just as iron does not mix with clay."
Revised English
"As in your vision the iron was mixed with the clay, so will there be a mixing of families by intermarriage, but such alliances will not be stable: iron does not mix with clay."
New American
"The iron mixed with clay tile means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage, but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay."
New Jerusalem
"And just as you saw the iron and the clay of the earthenware mixed together, so the two will be mixed together in human seed; but they will not hold together anymore than iron will blend with clay."
When I first read that verse in the King James Version, I had no clue as to what it’s meaning was. A wild guess on my part was that some king would try to mingle with the common masses and try to develop a good rapport with them, but would be unsuccessful in his public relations efforts. In reading the other translations, however, I realized that it probably means that members of royalty from one country would marry with royalty from other countries in an effort to create stable alliances between kingdoms. As you can see, that’s a very significant difference in understanding! At any rate, to properly understand verses like this would require a Ph.D. in language and have deep historic insights into the culture. The normal Joe doesn’t have that kind of learning, which takes a lifetime to gain. And even then, those who do have that kind of education can’t even agree amongst themselves on many points. So, what’s a person to do?

Also, in reading the Parallel Bible, I discovered that in some cases entire sections of verses were either rearranged in their order, or missing entirely in one or more versions, but not in the others!


Not only that, but, according to historians, the Book of Matthew and John was originally written in Aramaic, but is only known today to exist in Greek, from which we get our English Translation. There you have double the potential for a mistranslation.

1 Comments:

Blogger Mary A said...

It's interesting to contemplate the difficulties of translation and how they affect the end result. I think it's good to read more than one translation because you can get a better idea of the meaning, as you illustrated. And if you're able to read another language version, you can get even more understanding of the possibilities. Whether it's various translations or commentaries, the more information we can gather, the better we can understand. Your posts are good, Scott, and bring up lots to ponder!

3:31 AM  

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