In the Theology and Culture class this week we began our journey deeper into the issues facing us. The conversation was meant to frame the subsequent conversations in a larger grid, by using some key evetns/issues as starting points for where we might travel thereafter. Our conversation was rooted in some major threads around theolgy, church and culture, and somewhere along the way the issue of text and interpretation came up. I referenced a quote from an article in the latest Vanity Fair from Christopher Hitchen's latest piece on the King James Bible(like many non-believers he is a fan of that version). He was talking a bit about how things are translated, and were translated with particular emphasis in the KJV to underscore the aims, intentions and desires of the King. He offered up the following piece of information that I thought aptly pointed to the challenges of reading scripture.
“This is my Commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. / Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Here is how the verse read when first translated by Tyndale: “This is my Commandment, that you love together as I have loved you. / Greater love than this hath no man, than that a man bestow his life for his friends.”
Hitchens implies that William Tyndale's earlier translation(the first in English) of that verse is devoid of the sacrifical/death element the more familiar translation contains. Personally, I like Tyndales, it seems, as Hitchens also noted, to offer th eidea that extending friendhsip toward others is as important as self-sacrifice. It would be interesting to know how a Christianity shaped formatively by an entirely different translation of text would unfold, my sense is that it would produce a remarkably different manifestation of what a life of faith might look like.
Of course, Tyndale wound up burnt at the stake for his efforts--his translation of that particular verse seemed to have little impact pon those for whom protecting the faith was a bloody business.