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Monday, April 16, 2007

pitiful translation

Here's how the story begins. I have been editing a book about Bible translation. In it the authors cite James 5:11 from the KJV:
Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
The point they make in that section of their book is that words often change meaning over time. In this case, in 1611 A.D., when the KJV was published, the word "pitiful" meant "pity full", that is full of pity or compassionate. Obviously, today it has a very different meaning.

I passed that wording on to some of my friends by email, pointing out the meaning change.

Lingamish has responded with an arresting blog post on how we frame the questions to our own advantage in debates about Bible translation. I felt a sting in my conscience when I read his post: I have been guilty of putting down some translations when it would be better to take a higher road in the debates. I encourage you to read his post, and to let it touch your conscience, as well. I'd be interested in any reactions you have. Please note them in comments on the Lingamish post or here.


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