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I've been a translation studies student for some time now. During a few courses I encountered several examples of particularly dynamic translations connected with rendering the Bible in languages of a people with everyday life very much different from ours. That is to say, I'm not meaning the Japanese or the Chinese but rather Eskimos for instance. Apparently in some Bible translations (or the attempts to prepare such) 'Lamb of God' was translated as 'Seal of God' (like the animal, not the stamp) - as you won't find any sheep in the far North, and Jesus' being the Bread of Life - as 'Fish of Life'. Because bread - and more generally wheat or other types of grain - is again something uknown there.

What do you think?
Okay? Not okay? How to do this otherwise?
Do Eskimos sacrifice Seals to God?
But anyway, that's not OK. Revelation was a historical event, there's no way to avoid that, and as a historical event (though much exceeding the event) it assumes these contingencies.
One might as well ask, will the Eskimos consecrate fish and turn fish into the Body of our Lord? No, one needs wheat. And one need grapes for the blood of Christ.
I think it would be more profitable to just explain how bread was a staple food in Israel, etc. That's what we have: many things are lost on us if we didn't have some commentary explaining the images and customs.
Have to agree with Renatus Frater on this one. Changing the facts of history for the sake of relevance does violence to the integrity of belief in the Incarnation. When the eternal God became man, He became a particular man, born in a particular time and place, into a particular people with their particular culture and history. Analogues such as seals and fish can be brought forward during catechesis and in explanation of the Scriptures, but not in their translation. The literal sense of the Bible has to be respected, and should really only be altered to the extent the structure of the target language requires.

I would be curious how the Russian missionaries who were active in Alaska handled that particular circumstance; I'm not sure if the Spanish missionaries translated the Scriptures into the native languages or not.
The seal was chosen because it has the 'innocent' connotations that Lamb does have as well.

I, too, agree with you that such analogies can - and should - be employed in catecheses but not in the Bible, though. The question remains, how to write about lambs and bread in the Bible with no words at all meaning that in Eskimo languages? I have no idea.
(10-06-2014, 01:07 PM)PolishTrad Wrote: [ -> ]The seal was chosen because it has the 'innocent' connotations that Lamb does have as well.

I, too, agree with you that such analogies can - and should - be employed in catecheses but not in the Bible, though. The question remains, how to write about lambs and bread in the Bible with no words at all meaning that in Eskimo languages? I have no idea.

Ah, I didn't realize they didn't even have the word. In that case, I think you just introduce the word, maybe with an explanatory footnote. Greek took over some Hebrew words untranslated, as did Latin, and as did English and other languages ("pesaḥ" becoming "πασχα/Pascha"; "āmēn" becoming "αμην/amen"). That would make finding out what the missionaries did interesting.
Where words do not exist, perhaps employ cicumlocution or coin new terms using existing words and morphemes. Lambs are juvenile sheep, members of the Caprinae subfamily of ruminants. It seems much more sensible to use a word for an Arctic member of the same family for that purpose. That leaves muskoxen and mountain goats. A new word, derived from native words for one of these animals, plus some additional derivational morphemes that demonstrate its difference, would be sufficient. Failing that, if one is committed to using the seal, I don't see why something like "juvenile quadrupedal seal" or "juvenile land-roaming seal" would be an entirely bad choice for translation.
Are you suggesting that the word for "caribou" should have been used?
(01-13-2015, 04:45 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]Are you suggesting that the word for "caribou" should have been used?

Now I saw when the Caribou opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”  And I looked, and behold, a white [INSERT ARCTIC RIDING ANIMAL].
(01-13-2015, 04:53 AM)Dirigible Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-13-2015, 04:45 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]Are you suggesting that the word for "caribou" should have been used?

Now I saw when the Caribou opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”  And I looked, and behold, a white [INSERT ARCTIC RIDING ANIMAL].
sled pulling dog
(01-19-2015, 06:48 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-13-2015, 04:53 AM)Dirigible Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-13-2015, 04:45 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]Are you suggesting that the word for "caribou" should have been used?

Now I saw when the Caribou opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.”  And I looked, and behold, a white [INSERT ARCTIC RIDING ANIMAL].
sled pulling dog

I looked, and behold, a sled pulled by pale dogs. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.

I guess it works.
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