Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lost in translation

Since Christmas is just around the corner I thought I’d write another post related to Jesus.

About 25 years ago, after I got my first job in USA, I bought my very first car, ever.
It was a beauty of American engineering. It had some problems starting up in cold or rainy mornings; it stalled at intersections but only when making left turns and of course bellowed out a plume of smoke and made a racket like a Sherman tank.
You know, the kind of car we emigrants love to flash around.
The other thing we emigrants love to do with our cars, is to fix them in our drive way.
So one sunny weekend morning I was under my brand new junk car fixing some oil leakage, when I bumped my head in the transmission box.
Fortunately it was just a small cut, nothing a strategically placed band aid wouldn’t cure.
Later that day, my friend Kathy showed up and seeing the band aid on my forehead asked me what happened. I told her the story and she became very concerned. She actually wanted me to see a doctor. I told her “Don’t be silly. It is just a small scratch on my fore skin” She looked at me and said “You men forehead?” I said “Yeah. That’s what I said”
It turns out that my translation wasn’t quite what I had in mind, which brings me to my Jesus story.

How many of you believe that Jesus had said: “The kingdom of God is among you” or “Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find” or “Love your enemies”?
Well, I have some news for you my friend. Jesus has never said any of these things, or anything else that is written in the Gospel, because just like me, Jesus did not speak a word of English. As a mater of fact English wasn’t even invented 2000 years ago.
So whatever Jesus had said was Aramaic and that was passed from mouth to mouth, from generation to generation, until finally was translated and written down in Coptic – which is this ancient, ancient Greek.
When finally Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Gospel was translated to Latin and stayed in Latin for a couple of hundred of years until was finally translate to English.
So what you are reading today is a translation of a translation of a translation of the oral account of what Jesus have said.

Well then, you may say; “That it is irrelevant Buddha” since words are just words.
What it is important is the meaning of the words not the words themselves.

Let’s see.
So, this fellow Jesus pops up in the Middle East 2000 years ago proclaiming the divine nature of the human being - in other words he takes the divine exclusivity from the emperor and the church and gives it to the regular folk - and practically leads a rebellion against the established religion of the day, destroys the temple and renders the clergy not only obsolete but irrelevant.
So what the destitute clergy has to do to regain their lost power?
Change the text of the Gospel!
You take the holly scripture and translate it according to your own interest.
By changing one little word, Jesus turns from “a son of God” to “THE son of God”.
One little word and the whole message and meaning of Jesus teachings is turned upside-down.
With one word the authority and hierarchy of the Church is reestablished.
Jesus is no longer just a schmuck like everybody else and you are nothing like Jesus anymore.
Jesus has been promoted to God presiding over the church, presiding over clergy, presiding over you and 10% of your income, and you have returned to your previous position of member of the flock.
Ta-dah! Problem solved. We are back in business just like before Jesus and the Gospel.

So next time when you read the bible remember that one word “fore head” or “fore skin”, “The son of God” or “a son of God” can make a lot of difference.


Anonymous said...

The entire world is lost in translation my friend! We are a huge tower of babel ... or is that bagel?
Have a great Christmas and New Year.

Jane Doe said...

A wonderful, informative post! Too many people take scripture as the infallible, immutable word of god, ignoring the many translations and the motives of those who did the translating. If you 'read between the lines' and ignore the strict, unyielding dogma, you can see a lot of Buddhist influence in the life of Jesus.

There is a book I've been wanting to purchase called 'The Original Jesus: The Buddhist Sources of Christianity' Many religious scholars believe that during the 'lost years of Jesus,' the years between ages 12 and 33, Jesus traveled to the Far East to be educated by the Buddhist scholars.

Anyway, a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing.

Happy Holidays!


Jane Doe said...

Hey, do you mind if I add you to my blogroll?

silent storm said...

Dun'no what to believe anymore. So I stopped "searching" too much.

I believe in grace, in God, in love, in suffering, that this world is full of crap but it can likewise be a wonderful place -- but I couldn't possibly validate history and even heaven or hell.

In an "ideal world," we're all just trying to make it better.


Buddha said...

@- Aggie - Each one translates the truth according to their own interest.
But there is a truth and that should be universal in all languages.

@- Jane - Absolutely! You have to look behind the words to find the truth.

@- Silent Storm - If everybody thought like you this would be a wonderful world.
The problem is that a lot of people believe that only they are right and the rest of the world is wrong. Then they try to convert them even by force.

Jannie said...

I had not heard any of this before.

I guess what is in the heart is what matters, and helping others, doing what is right and living simply and honestly.

Lydia said...

Great post, both funny and serious.
Like Jane Doe, I know of the thought that puts Jesus in the Far East during the "lost years" (although the book she cited is new to me and thanks for the tip!). I totally gravitate to that concept; in fact, I embrace it. And of course "the church" would never have shared such information because, as you say, the clergy has no intention of sharing the limelight with other clergy - especially of another religion.

Robin Green said...

I agree that what is in the heart is what matters.

Lydia said...

Hey Buddha,
I was just checking my stats at Feedburner and followed a link to a search someone did that eventually led them to my blog. What interested me is the way this search site used to catalog the post. It used a line from my post and then a line from YOUR comments to draw peoples' attention! Cut and paste this link into your browser, and look down to about the 8th entry on the page:

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are really deep. An excellent blog you are running here. Keep it up and Happy holidays!