Well, you're going to protest again maybe. Here I go quoting a Bible translator's translation that makes you read bad words. To be exact, ass, fart, whore, piss, and shit.
So would it make any difference to you if I told you that the published translation helped win this particular translator the "PEN American Center / Book of the Month Club Translation Award"? Would you give the translator a break if one notable critic said that this is the translator's "most remarkable translation thus far" and that "it is, in fact, more an act of wizardry than of translation"? What if you knew that the translator was also a poet, who was "[t]wice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry"?
What else might matter to you? That the translator is not a woman, but a man? Does he need to be a theologian? A linguist? If he's translated the New Testament, does he need to be a Greek scholar? A Christian? Part of a team of men scholars of theology and of Greek language and of translation science? Would those things then make it okay for him to use ass, fart, whore, piss, and shit in his translation?
What I'm trying to get at is what counts for you.
Yesterday, I started in on a post by quoting a feminist, a woman feminist saying "pissed off." But I said that this was Jesus speaking. Immediately, you began to protest. "Gloria Steinem is no Jesus." And some of you were thinking, "Cuss words are not the Word of God."
What I'm trying to get at is how the Bible can immediately make seemingly unequal things equal.
What I'm trying to get at is how translation, likewise, makes things that don't at first seem to count as the same really, nonetheless, the same.
What I'm trying to get at is how literature, even a poem, a sonnet for instance, makes seemingly unequal things equal.
"Now, just wait a minute," some of you are saying. "The Bible in the original language(s) is not translation. And a translation is not the original by any stretch. Don't you know much gets lost in translation? And, since you're bringing up literature, and poetry, don't you even remember how Poet Robert Frost wisely noted that 'Poetry is what gets lost in translation'?"
What I'm trying to get at is how you can make things you think are unequal equal. Men and women? Yes, equal. Jesus and a feminist? Yes, equal again. The original spoken word of Jesus and it's written translation by someone claiming to be his student named John? Right, equal. A bit of history and a possibly fictional, late-added episode of narrative complexity? Of course. Equals.
What I'm trying to get at is how the Western mode of thinking that is binary really is what scholars Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede rightly refer to as the "logic-chopping automaton."
But none of us has to be that much of a scholar to see this. Let me just turn things around and come at it from another direction. What if you yourself are not really making unequal things -- say, males and females -- equal? What if they really are equal but it's just your use of Western, Aristotelian logic that makes them un-equal? What if the Bible, translation, and literature in general really free you to reconsider difference?
Okay. I suppose you're dying to know. Who is this Bible translator mentioned at the beginning of the post? It's Willis Barnstone. "What?!" some of you are exclaiming. "He's not a real translator of the Bible. He's only translated the New Testament and not anything else. Well, okay. He's translated the New Testament, but not the one I grew up with. He's not gotten to any of the Hebrew books, or any of what may be called the Old Testament. And he's thrown in a whole bunch of Greek books that are not canonical. The best and top-most-ranked Bible bloggers didn't know much about him until you started mentioning him here. Yes, we know you mentioned him yesterday in a post. Yes, we saw how you quoted from his translation. But where did he use the bad words, the unbiblical English, that you quote in this post today?"
Please let me answer. What I'm trying to get at is that Barnstone is the equal of any other Bible translator, dead or alive. He's a poet, a historian, a theoretician, and a practitioner of translation. Here's his complete, to date, bibliography. If that's not impressive enough, then do know that he does have his critics. Even literary types are good critics, somewhat severely critical critics, of his New Testament translation. And those who know some of the original languages better than Barnstone does perhaps, even though these might still be students, can be good critics, somewhat severely critical critics.
Now if you've stayed with me this far, anticipating Willis Barnstone's translation that uses those words I mentioned earlier, then do know you're going to get to read it (and them). I'm not going to say a thing really about the passage that Barnstone has translated other than this: it really is an award winning translation, but it really isn't from the Bible. It really is a sonnet, perhaps equal to the Spanish sonnet Barnstone is rendering. Thus, if you believe me that Barnstone is equal to a translator of the Bible, then here's a translation of something else by "a Bible translator who uses these "bad words":
from Six Masters of the Spanish Sonnet