Friday, May 4, 2012

Paul's Thorn in the Flesh Revealed!

Here is what New Testament scholarship has concluded about Paul's thorn in the flesh.

Happy Friday!

With many, many thanks to Jonathan Robinson.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Very Cool Bible Translation

Inukitut Bible
While many of us in the English speaking world are accustomed to having upwards of 20 different Bible translations to read, we often don't realize that there are still languages in the world that don't have even one translation in their native language.

For one people group living in the arctic region of northern Canada that has changed. A complete Bible in Inukitut has been translated for the Inuit people who live in that region of Canada. The project began in 1978 with the completion of the New Testament in 1991 and the Old Testament this year. 

But even more interesting and exciting is that it was translated by the native speakers themselves rather than by white missionaries. Such an accomplishment is important since it means that the Inuit people will have a translation of the Bible not only in their own language, but one that was translated by those who truly speak and understand it. 

Of course no translation project is without its challenges even for a native speaker. Knowing how to translate "camel" and other animals and plants that grow in hot arid regions for people who live among snow and ice proved to be a challenge. Here is a bit from the Washington Post:

“Our people need the whole Word of God to be inspired and strengthened and as a guide for their lives.”
But adapting the Old Testament, with its litany of desert vegetation and animals, to an Arctic readership presented challenges.For one, there are no words in Inuktitut for “goat,” ‘’sheep” or “camel.” Those had to be written phonetically.
And what do to about the 30-plus types of trees mentioned in the Bible when there are no trees of any kind for hundreds of miles in the Arctic?
“We used a general term for tree,” explained Allooloo, “and then explained it in the footnotes.” The translation brims with footnotes and explications.
The same word was used for “shepherd” as for someone who tends a dog team. “It’s like’baby sitter,’” said Arreak. Similarly, “pomegranate” is described as a sweet fruit with many seeds.

This sounds like an exciting project. I think it also helps us to think once again about what we mean when we discuss "translation." As I always tell my Greek students, translation is not like playing connect the dots. It is more like decoding and even then that is only the beginning.

Read more about the Inukitut Bible here

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ancient Hebrew Seal Found in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority are reporting the discovery of an ancient seal from the first temple period. The   seal is inscribed on a semi-precious stone and has the name "Matanyahu" in Hebrew. Not much else is known at this point. Here is a portion of the article.
Hebrew seal bearing the name 'Matanyahu'
Photo from Israel Antiquities Authority

According to Eli Shukron, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "the name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period - from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE. To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting. This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago. We also found pottery sherds characteristic of the period on the floor in the ancient building beneath the base of the drainage channel, as well as stone  collapse and evidence of a fire." 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adapting the Bible to Fit our Taste: What do you think?

I ran across this video, which is new to me. In it someone called the "One Minute Apologist" lays out a "defense" for the Bible. Using a series of cliches, he outlines why the difficult sections of scripture are really not all that difficult and the problem is not the Bible but us.

I have a number of thoughts about this presentation, and I fear I may have already tipped my hand a bit. But I am curious what you think about his presentation.

By the way, it takes the One Minute Apologist" two minutes to unpack his argument.

HT: Bible Reading Project

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Giveaway Winner

This week's winner is Julie Murdock. She has won Louis Feldman's Jewish Life and Thought Among Greeks and  Romans: Primary Readings (Fortress, 1996).

Julie, you have five days to claim your prize or it goes back on the shelf.

Didn't win this time? I still have more books to giveaway in the future.