delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Language and religion
delirium happy
rho
In my studies of religion, such as they are, one of the things that I've noticed is how often a religion is tied to the language of its core text. Scholars will typically agree that you cannot appreciate the full meaning of (for instance) the Qur'an, the Tao Te Ching or the Torah unless you're reading them in the original Arabic, Chinese and Hebrew respectively.

Clearly, there are nuances in the language that render a direct translation impossible (a theist would probably say "Of course! How can you possibly hope to discuss the profound and ineffable in terms of simple unambigous concepts?" while an atheist would say "Of course! The greater the ambiguity the more people can be led to see what they want to see").

This observation leads me towards two questions. Firstly, why has there never been any great English religious text? English is a wonderfully nuanced language with a rich vocabulary, and is spoen by hindreds of millions of people across the world. Isn't it about time that someone set about starting the next great religious tradition?

Christianity doesn't really have any particularly strong relationship with the language of its original texts (that I know of). Has it flourished in spite of that, or because of it?

(Disclaimer: I really know very little about either language or religion. These are just random "thinking-aloud" type musings. Please treat them as such.)

  • 1
It depends who you ask. The Mormons would disagree with your statement above. I'm fairly sure The Book of Mormon is written in English.

However, the Mormons believe that TBOM was written in "Reformed Egyptian", a derivative of Hebrew, and that the English version they have is only a translation. This is bollocks, of course, but there you go.

Oops, didn't know that.

I guess that leaves Scientology... *sighs*

Well, there's always the Principia Discordia, which is far moreserious, profound and accurate than any scientology doctrine that I've seen.

English "Holy books"

Yay! Discordians of the world, untie! (No, wait, that was dyslexics....) Anyway, there is also Crowley's "Book of the Law" which some think highly of.

My reading is that "Reformed Egyptian" refers to the writing system, and that the language that was notated with this writing system was Hebrew.

On another note, though, there are people who believe that the King James Translation is the best possible translation of the Bible in existence (I believe there are even people who consider it better and/or more inspired) than the original text, so that might count as an English-language "original" sacred text.

Then there's also the "Joseph Smith Translation" (sometimes known as "Inspired Version") - a project where JS revised the KJV, adding, deleting, and modifying material by (he claimed) revelation.

This used to be available only in English, and I presumed it would stay that way -- since if it were translated, it would necessarily not be of the same inspired standard, since there'd be another human factor involved. However, portions of the JST were published at least in German in the last couple of years (in a new translation of the Book of Mormon and a couple of other Mormon texts from English), and presumably in other languages as well.

(Deleted comment)
English is a relatively young language compared to Chinese and Hebrew and Latin and Aramaic. Possibly something written in English will one day be considered a great religious text; I think English is just too new (relatively) for something to be considered "great."

May I just express my absolute disbelief that you can say Christianity doesn't have a strong relationship with its original languages... There are dozens of differnet translations of the bible, and people have been tortured and killed for using the 'wrong' one.

Then there's the whole Catholic/Protestant split...

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account