Lost in Translation: When Holy Writ Becomes Wholly Wrong

Translating biblical texts is a difficult undertaking. Differences in the translation of sacred texts help to shape and reshape their meanings for us. Errors that have occurred in this process range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Texts have been mistranslated intentionally to serve polemical purposes and unintentionally because the translators did not know any better. In Judaism there are to this day laws that may be based on nothing more than a mispronunciation of two vowels centuries ago. In the New Testament, quoting an Old Testament text with a slightly changed syntax in Greek has been used to prove the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. When an ancient Hebrew idiom is no longer understood and is translated verbatim into English, this results in a passage we would rather not read in a worship service. This program is scholarly and serious, but results in a bit of laughter as well.

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