Perils of mistranslating Scripture
September 12th, 2016
By Mary Pecci
I never cease to wonder who are these so-called “Bible scholars” who take it upon themselves to translate the sacred words of Scripture from one language to another, often to the detriment rather than to the enlightenment of the faithful – not to mention in this letter how some of them have “desecrated” our beloved 23rd Psalm.
Take for example Luke 14:26, which is translated as follows: “If anyone comes to me and does not HATE father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple.”
Now consider for a moment how many people, Catholics as well as non-Catholics, have been totally turned off by the suggestion that Jesus, the supreme personification of LOVE, would ever suggest, even in the extremist sense of hyperbole, that we HATE? After wrestling with this problem and being fully convinced that there must be a mistranslation here somewhere, I decided to conduct a little research into the matter.
As it turns out, the word “hate” is a translation from the Greek and Aramaic word “miseo.” Unlike English, which has a rich choice of words to express the various degrees of each emotion, Greek and Aramaic have limited choices of words. Therefore, the word “miseo” includes several translations, such as, “hate,” “dislike,” and “esteem less.” Therefore, wouldn’t it be obvious that the choice of translation in concert with the “meaning” of this Scripture would clearly be “esteem less” rather than “hate?”
Check it out: “If anyone comes to me and does not esteem less father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even their own life – such a person cannot be my disciple.”
Realize how much confusion, discomfort and efforts to justify sacred Scripture would be avoided if this appropriate translation were used. Again, I ask, “who are these so-called Bible scholars?” Give me a break!
From September 15, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.
Write Letters to the Editor, Catholic San Francisco, One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco, CA 94109
Name, address and daytime phone number for verification required.
Short letters preferred: 250 words or fewer