alt.thinking.hertz •Future-Proof Bible •

Future-Proofing the Bible

"If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, then it is good enough for me"

Don Quail (attributed)

The bible has been transcribed and translated many times to reach the versions now in use. 

Even without a 2000 year time gap, ideas can get radically changed in translation.  Cultural differences and differences in everyday environment are problems for translators.  There's a lot more to this than whether 'a billion' is 1,000,000,000,000 or merely 1,000,000,000.  Translating a contemporary short story, one East European translator had to work hard to find out what a 'Tesco Bag' was.  Was it like a 'Gladstone Bag', some special kind of leather case?  No, it happens that 'Tesco' is a U.K. supermarket chain, so a 'Tesco Bag' is a supermarket plastic bag.  If modern translation runs into this kind of problem, how much more so translation and transcription across generations?

"Oh Joseph, that was immaculate!"

The possibility of meaning being lost in translation and being lost through changes in usage over time has lead to an argument between people who hold that in 'The Virgin Mary' the original meaning has been lost and that it is actually a mistranslation of 'Young Woman' - and those who hold that the original meaning is still as intact as her hymen.

In translating a sacred work, how the translation is made will also be affected by the beliefs and morality of the translator.  Perhaps that's an understatement.  I remember being taken aback to read C.S.Lewis claiming that one of the ten commandments was not:

"Thou shalt not kill"
"Thou shalt not murder"

and that therefore it was right and just to 'kill for your country' in time of war, for this was not the same thing as 'murder'!  These uncertainties in meaning suggest that literature designed to last for generations better have some 'future proofing'.

The lack of 'future proofing' in the bible is also shown by the parable of 'The Good Samaritan'.  In its day the title of that parable was close to being an oxymoron, for Samaritans were despised and shunned.  Today, thanks to the parable itself, 'Samaritan' has become a virtual synonym for "someone who helps you in an hour of need".  Without the historical background much of the meaning of the parable is lost.


My reason for writing this page concerns birth imagery and the possibility of a link between the concepts 'Primal Pain' and the biblical concept of 'Original Sin'.

My own experience of a possible pre-birth memory led me to question whether 'Genesis' was in fact an analogy describing birth.  The experience left me feeling that interactions between the child and the mother's hara chakra plays a crucial role in the birth process.  For example I believe the hara 'area' is actively involved in monitoring the health of the child and determining when a birth will happen.  In the analogy, eating the forbidden fruit is taking energy from the mother's hara, the tree of knowledge corresponds to the nervous system, the evil serpent is the kundalini, and being banished from The Garden of Eden is birth.  The 'spare rib' 'making of Eve' could be an account, garbled by translation, of the way the lower ribs are incomplete and move in order to accommodate the growing child.  If this is so, then we are talking here of a different kind of knowledge about ourselves and our bodies which has largely been lost.

alt.thinking.hertz •Future-Proof Bible •
"Future-Proofing the Bible" page last updated 5-July-2003