Category Archives: BT2009

Cultural relevance

I’m wondering about blindspots when it comes to “seeing” our own culture.

First, I wonder about how much Western/Anglo culture affects international translation efforts when the tools for translation are in English and generated (for the most part) by the Western Church. Is a layer of interpretation inserted between the Ancient Hebrew text and the target/receptor language and text? I think that sometimes (not always) we tend to miss just how “foreign” our own English translations are from the original text. I think most people would agree that the best situation is generating a translation from the Hebrew directly into the target language, but this is rarely the case (for lots of different reasons). What best practices will help to appropriately use the current tools, and what is the way forward?

Second, I am surprised by the ability (of some) to accept the need for accommodation to communicate the ancient text (i.e. the Hebrew Bible) into a tribal or remote language so that it is contextually appropriate and understandable, and yet have resistance to allowing modern English translations to likewise reflect their current culture in a meaningful way. Is there a blindspot to our own situated-ness?

BT2009: Friday “Beekman Lecture”

Dr. Elsa Tamez was the first special speaker of the BT2009 conference. She is a Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Latin American Biblical University, Costa Rica. She is also a UBS Translation Consultant and a theological advisor for the Latin American Council of Churches.

Tonight she looked at the effect of the book of Mark being written in the context of a time of war. She then placed this reading beside the task of translating the book for the faith community in Colombia who currently find themselves in a time of war. In particular she highlighted the “silences” of the book and why, in her opinion, a time of war finds people being silent.

Many good choices for sessions tomorrow (and for the next 4 days).

Interesting tidbit: there are four different sign language interpreters translating at the sessions (American Sign Language, Costa Rican Sign Language, Finnish Sign Language, and Japanese Sign Language).