Friday, May 4, 2007

Lost in Translation

Just a couple of random thoughts this week that came together and made me laugh.

One of the first classes I took last fall was called "Research and Writing for Graduate Studies." It is an online class that is required for all students, but doesn't result in any actual credit toward graduation.

It's a class about how to write papers, use the library, and do research.

Yes, it was every bit as fun as it sounds. (I didn't think you could find a hundred different test questions to ask about using the library, but sure enough...)

One of our more practical assignments was to share two or three web sites that we consider valuable for ministry. After a number of people had posted as a favorite, I knew I wanted to check it out. It is a great web site that allows you to access several different translations of the Bible anywhere you can log onto the web. I'm finding it very helpful while I'm writing papers, lessons, and this blog. It's actually been so helpful that I wanted to see if there were other study helps out there. One of the sites I found is, which provides several really cool resources, like a translation of the Bible in English sitting side-by-side or "parallel" with a translation in ancient Greek. There's also a dictionary for the ancient Greek words so you can look up what they literally mean and see how the English translation compares.

The only drawback for me is that the only English translation provided on that site is the King James Version.

For as long as I've been regularly reading the Bible, I've been using a newer translation, like the NIV or the New Living Translation. I've just always felt that the modern language used in the contemporary versions make them more culturally relevant today. Because of this, I haven't used that site too much.

Or, maybe it's just because I'm stubborn.

At any rate, during my last course something happened that gave me a new appreciation for the old language.

We were talking about redemption and the professor was using Exodus chapter 13:12-13 as an example from the Old Testament:

12 you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord's. (which means they must be sacrificed.) 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. (This is from the ESV, which is what I think he was using.)

This practice was to be a reminder of the final plague while they were in slavery, of the passover, and ultimately of God's deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt and Pharaoh.

The lesson was interesting enough, but as he read, I remembered hearing Rich Mullins talk about this same verse; about how one of his professors had made a point of using the King James Version when he taught about it, and how funny it was. Later, I got online and confirmed my suspicions. Here's how it reads:

12That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD's.
13And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

Hmmm... An ass is redeemed by a lamb. I'm starting to think that those King James translators might be more relevant than I originally suspected...

It seems like there's an application to be made somewhere.

Perhaps I'm just too stubborn to see it.

In Him We Live,



Amy said...

Oh dear friend,
I am also impressed how if the ass was not redeemed that you were to break its neck. That is a picture too clear for me. How many times is the neck broken due to hard headed stubborness not wanting to see the truth. (Not only necks, but hearts and lives too.) Not wanting to repent. Thinking that if I 'let loose' just a little what's it going to hurt?
I don't know when I joined that club, but I really would like to not renew my membership. Dig?
Stubborn? Who me?

fred said...


Kathy said...


I think you just wanted to use the word "ass" on your blog. But perhaps I'm just projecting...

mike_and/or_kara said...

It's gloomy. A black & white scene with blueish overtones. Camera angle is from above. It's raining. There stands Keanu Reeves doing some parkour and then WHACK! snaps the neck of Donkey from Shrek.

Beginning today, I shall call my oldest, my firstling.