Text: John 10:11-18
The Bible uses language that can feel very foreign to us. It is a world of lords and kings and shepherds, of arks big enough to carry two of every kind of animal created, and manna floating down from heaven. It is a collection of books that were written in languages that are no longer spoken today—although modern Hebrew is related to biblical Hebrew and modern Greek is obviously related to the Hellenistic Greek of the New Testament. For sure, for those of us sitting here this morning, the Bible uses words and metaphors and images that are not a part of our everyday experiences. The biblical authors lived thousands of years ago, in cultures very different from those of today.
Translation scholars have long debated the best way to translate a text—whether a translation of text should be word for word, leaving the foreign text sounding foreign to the target audience, and retaining as much of the source text’s linguistic and cultural forms as possible (an approach called foreignizing); or whether a translation should bring the cultural and linguistic information of that text more in line with the culture of the target audience, attempting to translate meaning, but not always through exact word translations (an approach called domesticating). This issue has long been a part of the debate over the best way to translate the Bible, which, as I have already stated, is a collection of books written by men of cultures and languages different from most who read the Bible in translation. The debate is not unfamiliar to Pullen as we, too, have debated how best to manifest the spirit of the word of God through the use of inclusive language when reading the biblical text. (See endnote for the source of domesticating and foreignizing approach.)