Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lost in Translation

I truly love the imagery and language of the Kingdom of God that Jesus speaks about quite frequently throughout the gospels. The imagery worked great for the people who Jesus was speaking to and for myslef who understand the biblical context, but I was sitting in my living room a few weeks ago with some friends and we discussed quickly. What language would Jesus have used today to describe the Kingdom of God? We through a couple of ideas out and laughed, but than went back to the parable of the seeds we were discussing.

But I was excited (it does not take much) to see this article called Lost in Translation thinking about this very issue. It is a little long, but i think if you are interested in helping translate the good news of Christ to the people you drive by, sit by, live by, run by, work by or anyone you happen to be by. I think you will enjoy.


J-Lou said...

My personal favorite was using the "Dream of God" as the translation of the "Kingdom of God".

steve w said...

For all the good things that could be said about Lost In Translation, there are some concerns...serious concerns.

The good, as I see it, is that dance, party, network, mission, revolution, and dream are words/concepts that capture much of the positive side of the Kingdom. They are words that unlock doors that often prevent our minds from exploring what Jesus was really talking about. So as far as they go, they are good, and they take us in some of the directions Jesus wanted us to go when he spoke of the Kingdom of God.

However, if we go back to Isaiah's metaphor of the Lion and the Lamb, McLaren's translation of the Kingdom removes the Lion and leaves only the Lamb. He declaws the Kingdom; he tames it; dare I say it...he castrates it! His one word that even begins to approach this aspect of the Kingdom -- revolution -- must, he says, be modified with words like peace and love. YES, the Kingdom is a revolution of peace and love, but those words in today's American culture don't convey the force and power and militant side of God's kingdom.

Jesus speaks of the Kingdom and violence and force together in one verse, Mat 11:12. The translators and commentators almost come across as some slap-stick comedy routine when you put them together. They fall all over themselves and each other trying to explain what Jesus meant, and perhaps it is because they aren't comfortable with the Lion. The best imagery to explain Mat 11:12 is a dam that breaks. When a dam breaks, and the water comes rushing through ... there is power and force and destruction of that which tries to stand against it. Or think of the levies in New Orleans trying to hold back the waters of Katrina.

Jesus came announcing and bringing the Kingdom of God. For all the dancing, partying, and dreaming it involves, it is also a forceful Kingdom that no one can conquer or impede. The Kingdom does involve a King, or a fact, the King of kings, and the Lord or lords. And you do not want to find yourself in the position of trying to oppose this King.

Sometimes, we just have to explain and translate. College students need to learn and understand college words, not just kindergarten words. Kindergarten words can only take us so far. In addition to learning addition and subtraction, we need to learn multiplication and division. Rather than relying on declawed metaphors to convey the original metaphor, sometimes we just have to explain the original. Education is not a bad thing. To see an educator's translation of the Kingdom, go HERE

(sorry my comment is so long)

steve w said...

After I posted my previous comment, I thought, "Why didn't McLaren use irresistible revolution?" Irresistible is one of those words that has a double meaning ... the Kingdom is both compellingly attractive and unstoppable.

J-Lou said...

Well Steve, i like your comments and i had been busy so i really had not time to re-read the article until now. So i went back and read the article and i think many of the metaphors do convey power. I think we have lost the power that is behind a revolution of love. I think that type of revolution has been misplaced and not valued. I think the aspects of the force of the kingdom are not the force that so many people in America think of but a different type of force. We are use to a force that uses weapons and violence. I think the force Jesus was going to use was a force powered by love and grace that this world has never seen or experienced.

I think that is also why the Jews of Jesus' day were expecting the Messiah to come as the political power and was going to overthrow the Roman Empire. Jesus was going to overthrow them by another means.

MLK Jr. believed solidly in a dream of a different world and he was a force to be reckoned with. I disagree that the metaphors declaw the aspect of the kingdom. I think when we do not attempt to translate the kingdom mataphor that we lose the power of the kingdom. Yes, Jesus is the king of kings, but he is also the creator of dreams. And I think he did have a dream for this world that sin has totally destroyed. If this world would actually take Jesus seriously (including me) and live a life that he called us to. I think the force and power behind that type of love and grace would overwhelm and not be held back.

I don't know, that is just my two cents.