Friday, July 10, 2009

Interaction with Nepali Pastor on Sodomite Passages

by Jose E. Ortiz. Gokarna Forest Resort, Kathemandu, Nepal. July 7, 2009.
At the pastor’s seminar held on Sunday, July 5, a pastor began to talk with me during the meal time. He was theologically trained and had studied Greek and Hebrew. We had had a nice interaction at the beginning of the seminar when he gave me the name of his church wile signing in. His church’s name had the word Elohim in it. Upon hearing Elohim I recited Gen 1:1 in Hebrew which has the name of God -Elohim - in it. He laughed and said “I can only remember just the first three words of that Hebrew text," amazed that I knew the whole verse. I explained that I had just completed a 10 month course in Hebrew. The pastor then said let’s see if you remember it 5 to 10 years from now and we both laughed.

During the meal time, after Steve had discussed the erroneous insertion of the word Sodomite in the translation of five Old Testament passages, amongst other points, the pastor shared some interesting observations with me. He noted that a lot of the pastors in Nepal are not theologically trained; by that, he meant seminary training complete with biblical languages. He also noted that he believed that one could count on two hands the number of pastors that were functionally knowledgeable of Hebrew and Greek. Finally, he said “it probably would have been better to leave the bible in the hands of those who are trained to read and understand it in the original languages!” We both chuckled and I agreed by saying the translation of scripture into the language of the people was a good thing and a dangerous thing because an errant translation, leading to an incorrect interpretation, can lead to harmful application. I didn’t say it quite so poetically at the time but since I am on that kick, here is another little ditty I thought of: Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when mistranslations we believe!

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