Archive for August 25th, 2008

25
Aug
08

TRANSLATION IS NOT INTERPRETATION

 

    In my last post I talked about Mormonism’s 8th Article of Faith, namely, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.”  The word “translation” usually means taking something from language and putting it into a different language.  For example, I translated that letter from Spanish to English. 

     But Mormons often cite the 8th Article of Faith in reference to their belief that the original text was corrupted.  In other words, they often include the transmission of the text down through the ages.  As Joseph Smith said, “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers.  Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.”  (Quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 14)

     To muddy the waters even more, as this issue is discussed, often the interpretation of the Bible is introduced with the argument that people interpret things differently.  But the interpretation of the Bible is not pertinent in this discussion.  Translation and interpretation are two different things.

     Hopefully the following analogy helps make my point.  Whenever the President of the United States gives a speech, the “experts” immediately interpret that speech and come up with differing interpretations of it.   But the key point to my illustration is that they all work off all the same transcript of the speech.

     Now apply that to the Bible.  People come up with different interpretations of it, but they all work from the same “transcript”.  Mormonism, however, says the transcript itself is corrupt.  In any other situation when such a charge is made, the obvious questions are:

“What parts are corrupted?” and “Can you prove it?”  How many news agencies, for example, would take at face value the claim that the transcript of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was not accurate without asking those two questions?

      Many people are asking the LDS church, what parts of the Bible are corrupted?   A general statement that it is corrupted isn’t very helpful.  If you want to be helpful, be specific.  From an outsider’s viewpoint, these seem to be reasonable questions -especially because of Mormonism’s claim that its living prophets receive direct revelation from God.  It is difficult to believe that God, over the past 150 years, hasn’t remedied this situation of a corrupted Bible by revealing the truth to one of its living prophets.    




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