The fact that I still hear these particular objections further confirms that the skeptics who offer them have no interest in holding accurate information as it relates to Biblical Christianity. For all their boasting to be honestly seeking the truth of the matter, they routinely and persistently ignore correction on tangible historical inaccuracies that they hold. These “myths” are not matters of faith, rather they are matters of demonstrable history and yet many skeptics still hold — seemingly for dear life — to them as though there is still some question to be answered about them.

Daniel B. Wallace

There’s an old Italian proverb that warns translators about jumping in to the task: “Traduttori? Traditori!” Translation: “Translators? Traitors!” The English proverb, “Something’s always lost in the translation,” is clearly illustrated in this instance. In Italian the two words are virtually identical, both in spelling and pronunciation. They thus involve a play on words. But when translated into other languages, the word-play vanishes. The meaning, on one level, is the same, but on another level it is quite different. Precisely because it is no longer a word-play, the translation doesn’t linger in the mind as much as it does in Italian. There’s always something lost in translation. It’s like saying in French, “don’t eat the fish; it’s poison.” The word ‘fish’ in French is poisson, while the word ‘poison’ is, well, poison. There’s always something lost in translation.

But how much is lost? Here I want to explore…

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Comments

  1. I can agree with JB on . Skeptics will say both that we can learn nothing from ancient tribal stories because of ‘lost in translation’ issues. At the same time, we can read the words in historical and literal context and see very obvious fallacies of history, science, ethics, and internal agreement within the texts. I find the latter objection shows the error of scriptural literalism. The problem of ‘lost in translation’ or traitor translators is an important warning to keep in mind but certainly no reason to reject an old or translated text. We should just take care to understand the historical context and the reality that errors in translation or transmission are likely to multiply for each iteration.

  2. I read this post on Dr. Wallace’s wall earlier today, and I have to say he is well respected NT scholar. He is the only scholar I have seen go toe to toe with Bart Ehrman and not look stupid.

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