Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Translation they say is the first level of interpretation. And no translation is every anything but interpretation. Interpretations are always already perspectives and perspectives by nature go up and down, left and right, as it were, the sliding chain of the Kosmos.

In other words, all translation involves some transformation.

[Derrida said that all translation is nothing but transformation in which case if he were right he should have never said it because whatever I'm reading translation=transformation is itself already a transformation and not the thing he said, in part or whole.]

There are always some gaps in meaning. Hence some transformation. What the deconstructive critique misses is that much of the interpretation does follow stable patterns (patterns that were originally emergent qualities to the Evolving Universe but are now built in.).

I've been thinking about this a great deal as I start my study of ancient Biblical Hebrew. The ancient Hebraic text grew up almost entirely in an agrarian pastoral, temple/cult, and Middle Eastern imperial context. The Pentateuch, The Prophets, The Psalms, Historical Books (Joshua, Judges, Kings, etc.), and most of the Wisdom Literature.

Then in 333 BCE Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East, including Judah. Prior to that Judah had been ruled by Persians (who I should mention had a major impact on the religion of Judaism), Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, etc.

With the Greeks, an Indo-European culture, religion, philosophy, politics, and way of life moves in.

The meeting of Hellenism and Judaism took place in the Diaspora, the Jews of urban centers of the Greek-dominated city life of the Middle East.

The Septuagint, the translation the Scripture of the Diaspora Jews was the first translation/transformation, interpretation of the Hebrew text. It was the Scripture of the early Christian churches, evangelists, and New Testament authors. Christianity only makes sense in a Hellenistic Jewish context.

Already the shift from a pastoral-tribal-agrarian life to the small communal city-centered sect based existence of the Diaspora is a major shift. Not to mention the shift to mass urbanization, the rise of modernity and postmodernity, and nationalism.

In Church circles we always spend so much time worrying about numbers and why our message isn't reaching people in the post-industrial world. I don't think we take deeply into account how foreign and strange the text and its lifeworld has become to us. This is not to say it can not still speak to us--in many ways I think preaching today should be to embrace this strangeness and make us strange to this contemporary world. To make us strangers like Avraham.


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