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Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Passion of the Word

Yes, for those who wondered, the title of this post deliberately parallels that of the film produced by Mel Gibson. Secondly, in case you wonder, I don't consider the title of this post to be very good English. We could think about the title in terms of Greek genitives, which some Bible translators like to translate fairly consistently with English "of" prepositional phrases. Then we might consider whether the title is a subjective genitive, i.e. the passion that the Word has, in which case the phrase is semantically anomalous unless the Word is animate (hey, He is alive!!), or, with strange English, an objective genitive, passion that people have for the Word, which could be the Living Word (the Logos, the Christ) or the written Word of God, the Bible.

Mostly, though, what I wanted to do with this post is remind myself and every one of us that the Bible is an invaluable gift from God. At this blog we function as analysts, using our God-given minds to critique different English versions. But when we do so, or when we read someone's analytical post, we must not fall into one of the logical fallacies that Lingamish could write about, namely, that whatever analytical or critical statements we make logically lead to the conclusion that any particular Bible version we are critiquing is bad or inferior. There is good in every Bible version. The English-speaking world is rich many times over for having so many different English versions. No matter what your literary tastes might be, you can find an English version which likely will satisfy you much of the time. And there is a high degree of exegetical accuracy, overall, in most English versions. We can be confident that we are reading what God intends us to know when we read most passages in most Bibles.

Can English Bibles still be improved? Absolutely. And that is why this blog exists, to help us all understand that translation is a complex task, no translation is perfect, and there are ways of improving even the most highly regarded versions. This blog does not exist to tear down any Bible versions. Criticism is intended to inform, not destroy.

This is Passion Week. My hope and prayer for each of us is that we will, this week, sense again the Passion of the Christ, our Living Word, as he endured such great pain for each of us. And may we encounter the Living Word in the pages of the Written Word. Let us be passionate about both of these Words. And let us be passionate that the Written Word continue to be translated for the millions of people around the world who do not yet have it in their language, not even one single version.

Blessed Passover, Happy Easter, to all!


At Sat Apr 15, 03:30:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

There is more ambiguity than you mention in your title. I don't think that in English "The Passion of the Word" can mean passion which people have for the word, that would always be "passion for the word". But passion can be something active as well as something passive. "The Passion of the Christ" is both what he suffered and the active feelings which propelled him forward. The latter sense is hard to understand for "The Passion of the Word", unless the Word is identified as Christ himself, but this phrase could mean the suffering which the word has been subjected to. I might even call the way that the Bible has sometimes been badly translated "The Passion of the Word".

At Mon Apr 17, 08:22:00 PM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Amen Wayne!


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