Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scriptural Translation Hypocrites: The Ultimate Irony

I have to laugh - and I mean really laugh - at those who complain about the wording of the Book of Mormon (that it's too much like the King James Version of the Bible and what Joseph and the people of his time spoke), while tripping all over themselves to use non-KJV translations of the Bible because that version is too hard to understand. It's totally fine to translate the Bible into words and phrases that adults and children and teenagers now will understand (resulting in hundreds of translation versions), but it's not OK for Jospeh to use words the readers of his time would understand?!?!

If people hundreds of years from now could access only the most modern versions of the Bible, they would reject it out-of-hand as being a "product of its time" - exactly as so many people reject the Book of Mormon for that reason.

Hypocrisy, thy name is . . . never mind.


Anonymous said...

You seem to be comparing apples to oranges. i don't know may people who complain about the "language of the book of mormon", but it sounds like you are referring to those who question its validity because Joseph Smith used phraseology familiar to him. I don't see any connection between this and the argument that the KJV is archaic (and in some cases, downright wrong) and more modern translations would bring a better understanding of the original message. perhaps a little clarification to bring the two together...?

Jessica said...

There is an easy-to-read, "modern language" version of the Book of Mormon, used in some courses at BYU. We used it for family scripture reading when the kids were little. I'm not sure I can agree with your assertion that the language Joseph used in his translation was familiar to him. I would say it was familiar for him to use for scripture because he was used to reading scripture in the linguistic style of the KJV bible, but not because that was the way people necessarily spoke in the early 1800's.

Jessica said...

Forgot to give a link.

Papa D said...

Anonymous, my main point is that Joseph used the scriptural language of his time. Iow, given the method of translation he described, it would be prefectly appropriate for him to use words and phrases with which he and the readers of his time would have been familiar. That is no different at all than modern translators doing the same thing with the Bible - making it more understandable to modern readers through the selection of words which are more familiar to them than the archaic phrasing of the KJV.

To be a little more clear, I hope, I have no problem whatsoever believing that the Book of Mormon as we have it would not translate word-for-word back to the Egyptian, then Reformed Egyptian, in which it is said to have been written originally (and whatever language was used initially to write Ether). Personally, given the KJV phrasing of many things, I believe that is self-evident.

There are some fascinating linguistic evidences that English was not the original text language, but that doesn't mean it was a word-for-word translation. I believe Joseph saw and used words and phrases that would make sense to him and the readers of his time - just like modern translators of the Bible do.

So, to dismiss the Book of Mormon as a "product of its time" based at least partly on the KJV wording, while accepting modern translations into more understandable language, really is hypocritical to me.

Papa D said...

Jessica, I agree it wasn't the spoken language of his time - but it certainly was the scriptural language of his time. I gather we agree on that.