On translation

6 04 2010

God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

-John Donne, from Meditation XVII, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions



One response

6 04 2010

Nice blog. Glad to have stumbled on it.

Translation is double edged. Donne presents one edge: the gift of interpretation as a reflection and transmission of revelation with in the world. Another edge: translators often subvert this gift to distort revelation.

A translator’s inversion of liturgy, theology, and magisterium into rationalistic games destroys faith. The Mass, for example, becomes a philological puzzle rather than a means of grace. At that point the gift of interpreting other languages develops into personal conceit that destroys belief and faith.

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