Saturday, July 14, 2007

timshel - thou mayest

I have watched waaaay more History Channel, TLC and National Geographic Channel programs than anybody should ever have enough time to watch. I like to watch stuff about ancient history, and more than anything, I like stuff about the Bible. I have seen so many of these shows, and I've seen so many of them multiple times, that I feel almost obligated to share some of the things I've learned. Today I'm going to talk about mistranslations in the Bible. I'm not going to reference sources because I'm too lazy. But I'm sure that if you google it, you could find plenty of information about this stuff.

Contrary to what some people believe, the Bible was not written in English. (Duh.) And "Lost in Translation" isn't just an artsy fartsy movie with scenes that don't each have a beginning, middle and end. It's an expression that means that words in one language don't always have a perfect equivalent in another language. And so:
  • The word usually translated as "virgin", as in "the Virgin Mary" doesn't mean "virgin". It means "unmarried young girl". Now in those days, of course, unmarried young girls usually were virgins, so one can see how it would be implied. But it isn't explicitly stated.
  • The word translated as "inn", as in, "there was no room at the inn" actually means the upper level of the house, where the people slept - the animals were kept in the lower level. It is quite possible that Mary and Joseph were staying with family when Jesus was born. They surely weren't staying in a barn. There was no such thing.
  • The "rod" being referred to in "Spare the rod, spoil the child" isn't an implement with which to beat your child. It is a symbol of power - like a scepter. Nowhere else in the Bible does the word translated as "rod" mean a stick used as a weapon. So, the Bible isn't telling you to spank your children. It's telling you to maintain authority over them. I'm honestly not trying to start a debate here. If you spank your children, that's fine. However you choose to maintain your authority is up to you. It's none of my damn business. But stop using the Bible to justify it.
Also, Jesus had brothers and sisters. It's right there, plain as day. Read the Bible, people.

ps, Name the book I referenced in the title of this entry, and get a prize. Extra credit if you can explain why it's relevant to this post.


Mother Hoodwink said...

I love this post. Josh and I not really Christians per se, but I know we know more about the Bible than these crazy Bible thumpers that are everywhere here. They like to believe only what they want. They talk about all the big sins but don't even realize that along with homosexuality being a sin, so is having your sideburns cut a certain way. Josh has been trying to learn Sanskrit so he can read the original Bible for himself. Good Post. Also, we're big History Channel nerds too.

Kerry said...

Of course you're big History Channel nerds. We're the same person, remember?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who's noticed that many (not all) Bible Thumpers don't actually know much about the Bible.