February 17, 2014

Translations are fascinating things. Take, for instance, Psalm 89:7 – providing a link to the variety of Biblical translations, as there are too many, but each provides its own connotation.   Fear/respect/awe/dread seem to be interchangeable; Holy ones/angels/saints, as well; Assembly/council/gathering, also.

With the wide variety of translations, is it any wonder that there are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 different denominations of Christianity?  How many of them express the exclusivity for which Christians are famous (if you don’t believe as *we* believe, you’re damned)?  It fascinates me that a belief based on love can have a reputation for things other than love.  It’s something my son is attempting to battle among his church, and obviously the Pope is attempting to battle with his words and actions.  Hopefully, if enough Christians begin expressing what they are *for*, more often than what they are *against*, the perceptions of Christians will begin to turn around.

Then again, look at the Muslims, and the perception problems they’ve got.  While Christians get the Westboro Baptists to deal with, at least they’re not out bombing and killing non-believers; their protests are hateful, but not violent.  Christians do get the occasional nut who thinks the solution to abortion is to kill off doctors, but fortunately, they’re not quite as prevalent as the Muslim fanatics.

At one point, I belonged to a group for race unity.  And there, I learned some valuable lessons regarding perception and intent.  Communication is all about those two things, and you have good communication when what you intend to say is what is perceived by the person getting the message.  So often, however, what is perceived is heard through filters of a wide variety of things that are unique to the listener.  Let’s take the common problem between men and women.  Man says, “You look nice today”.  Woman hears, “Well, you look better today than you usually do.”   And depending on the woman, that could be a good thing, or a bad thing.  Either way, the qualification of “today” gets the man in trouble. 🙂  That, of course, is an extremely minor example of perception/intent in communication.  My father regularly prays for my soul, because he worries that I will not be with him in heaven.  He often points out how I could return to the Catholic church.  And because I know that his intent is to express love through his own lens of how he interprets scripture, I accept the comments in the spirit of love in which they are intended, rather than taking offense at the perceived message of “you’re going to hell.” <grin>  And in the meantime, we have fascinating theological discussions on a wide variety of topics. 🙂  To me, it is worth putting aside my normal filters to see the intent behind the message, ’cause I love him too. 🙂  And I don’t think I’m going to hell.  I suppose I’ll find out eventually, huh. 🙂

The point to this rambling is that each translation is an effort to more clearly communicate, and it is up to the individual receiver to hear the underlying message that’s actually intended by God.  To put aside our filters and hope that we get it right.

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