Translating the Bible
— 2. What is the Bible? What class of text? —
🔼What class of text is the Bible?
So here we are: we have a linguistic vessel that's really a library of scrolls written by a large group of people over a long period of time. How shall we read it? What is it? Is it a manual? Is it a novel? Is it a newspaper, or perhaps something like a musical piece? Is it a big poem with lots of metaphors that shouldn't be taken too literally? Or is it perhaps a combination of the above. Or even none of the above? Good questions, because before we can start translating we need to interpret, and before we can start interpreting we need to know what we're dealing with.
Journalism was invented somewhere during the era of the Roman Empire as a completely new and revolutionary trade; the summing up of facts and figures undistorted by the perspective of the beholder as a representative of truth. Before then story tellers would come up with any kind of verbal array to reflect the intended kind of atmosphere or character of a target event or person.
For instance: a hundred unusually ferocious soldiers that look and act like a thousand ordinary ones are much more truthfully represented by a thousand soldiers in a report of the event than by a mere hundred.
Experience dictates reality much more than any allusive absolutes, and that does not make it less true, perhaps even more so. Even though the method or medium differed, the motivation was more or less the same: the accurate conveyance of an observation.
In the days of Moses journalism was not customary. Yet, even though our generations worship journalism as the one and only respectable, narrative conveyer of information, journalism is far from trustworthy and often proves to be incapable of translocating the essence of an event, since a reflection is always contaminated with the nature of the reflector. A message always needs a medium to progress in, and will inevitably assume some of its qualities, unless, of course, the message is the medium.
The perspective of the journalist can never be circumvented, not even when a camera or sound recorder is used. And in addition to that, words are subject to an uncertainty factor just like quantum particles are. In a living language the meaning of a word cannot be determined with 100% accuracy, and a report changes if the degree of detail is altered. Two observers who witness an event will each see a different degree of detail, and even completely different details. An article covering the event can therefore not be true for both observers, and journalism is thus per definition false.
When Dvorák wrote the Symphony of the New World he reflected a deeply unique message that could not have been conveyed elsewise, proving that sometimes silence reveals more than words, or music more than a letter. Art is often much more real than a newspaper because nature is not about facts, but about currents and flows and eddies and growth and change.
At present mankind describes consensual reality mainly in mathematical terms, and for long many hoped that the Great All would once be caught in a web of math. But that hope was irreversibly scattered half way the 20th century when Kurt Gödel wrote his famous incompleteness theorem, proving that any axiomatic system will never be able to cover the whole truth and is incapable of explaining everything.
An axiomatic system departs from rules that cannot be proven, and from which a body of derivation is woven. Mathematics is an axiomatic system and does per definition not suffice to know God with. The Hebrew language of the Torah is probably as pure and consistent as a mathematical system with the one big difference that it does not stand on improvable ground rules from which the whole Truth may follow, but departs from that all covering and singular Truth. instead of aiming for the Truth the Torah begins with it, a Theory of Everything, the most fundamental description of the span between Creator and creation.
That TOE is the letter ב, beth, meaning house or household, and a household is characterized by a nucleic, instructional husband surrounded by an economically active housewife projected upon sons and other household members (read our article on the Household Set). The household image is the building block of every successive realm. For the material universe: electrons around the atomic nucleus. For the biosphere: the living cell body around its genetic nucleus. For the mental realm: the sphere of consciousness around a conscious being. For cultures: an economy around a constitution or law. For everything: all particles and vital compositions thereof around the Word of God. The energetic universe and the Word of God is what all things have in common.
As preposition the beth-particle assumes the interpermeation of husband and wife and means 'in'. The initiation statement of Scriptures 'In the Beginning...' hence indicates the sole purpose of creation and the reason that God became a Creator: a Divine union, like a bride unites with her groom, to become 'one flesh' and to share the reality of one household. All things that follow, even down to the most common and unceremonious levels of our daily lives, are details of that TOE. There is nothing outside of that TOE, and everything that happens, happens because of that TOE. That TOE is the attractor of all goings on, forever and anywhere.
Men of old sought of seer and oracle for a definition of Truth and no reply was told, but the Bible makes it simple and clear: Truth is the last man standing; that what eventually remains. All things come to an end, but the Truth will never ever come to an end. Jesus says that His Word will never pass away, the Psalmist says that the Body of Christ will not see decay, and the New Testament writers call the interconnected group of believers the Body of Christ.
Somehow creation is headed for a state of inveteracy, as a manifestation of something that will last forever. And the Bible, in all its height and breadth and depth, all inter-melling of layers, all interconnected meanings of its words and all its letters is a verbal equivalent of just that.
History of the Bible