Should Non-Native English Speakers use English Bible?


#1

As a non-native englush Speaker (Chinese, specifically), I am wondering if I would be served better by reading the Studium Biblicum (The Only Catholic Chinese bible)

Part of the reason is that, upon reading Thomas A Nelson’s Polemic “Which Bible Should you Read?”, especially in light of the passage he quoted, I realized that it is quite frequent that we did an additional translation when I am reading an English bible. In particular:

1: “Let all your things be done in charity”. There are no “charity” in chinese; it will always be rendered as 愛, which is “love”. In fact, in dun Scotus, it just goes “你們的一切事,都應以愛而行。” (Your everything should be act based on love) This is not unlike the translation that use "love"
2: “…and suffer the loss of his own soul/life” (Matt 16:26): Since the Chinese concept of Soul is tied to life, use of “life” instead of “soul” can fly over easily, as it meant the same once through the "internal translation"
3: “I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth” (Rev:3:16) In Cantonese Chinese, vomit is rendered “嘔吐”, but commonly in Mandarin they will just use “吐”… or “spit”. The Chinese Catholic bible also ended up using “我必要從我口中把你吐出去” (I must from my mouth spit you out)

There are possibly plenty other passage that would make me (despite living in Canada for over 20 years) that require a “second internal translation.” In that light, what’s your opinion regarding a Non-Native English Speaker in an English region to use English bible?


#2

Use whatever that further one’s understanding. There is no perfect translation in any language. Bibles translated to the English language aren’t perfect either. Through the centuries, you can see attempts after attempts to improve the translation. But are we any clearer? I don’t know because churches continue to argue and spin-off their own version of correct interpretation. Does it matter which language foster that divisions? Nope. One can always looked up what the original Greek/Hebrew said though.


#3

People use Scripture in different languages all the time :slight_smile: Lots of people even study Latin or Greek to be able to read earlier versions, and I have looked verses up in French or Spanish because they still differentiate between you singular and plural.

I would by all means encourage you to read the Bible in an many languages as you can.


#4

Actually, the same ambiguity of “soul” and “life” exists in Greek, so your Chinese translation is fine! “Love” is probably better than “charity,” too. But yes, no translation is perfect; it’s great you are looking at different translations.


#5

Hi!

I understand, from your examples, how there could be a different tone added/removed through translation; yet, as you seem to have a great understanding of the English Language, I think that it is quite useful to read both versions… my native language is Spanish… there are things that sound/seem better in Spanish than in English but since I have fluency in both languages I read from both… yet, even in English there are variations in Bible versions… so when I site from Scriptures I look for a version that best describes the intent.

In your Ex #3 “vomit” has a better qualification of the intent than “spit” because vomit demonstrates a deeper intimacy and a more dramatic effect–Jesus does not only spits out but He wrenches the useless Servant from within Him!

Ex #1–this is more difficult to view as “love” and “charity” are actually interchangeable (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

Ex #2–this is a cultural complexity; it may require a footnote to explain that this particular use of the term “life” means the loss of Spiritual Life not just the ceasing of temporal existence.

So I would say use both; the Chinese for the ease of reading through and connecting with your roots and the English for the nuance that may be lost in translation.

Maran atha!

Angel


#6

Do you think in English or Chinese? I would go with the bible in the language that your brain thinks in. St. John Paul II spoke many languages, but he always thought in Polish.


#7

Translation is never one-to-one, so the English translation has imperfections, too. Common greek had three words for life: zoe, psuche, and bios. It also had three words for love: agape, philo, and eros.

It was actually very common in English to translate it as “Let all your things be done in love”, too. Agape is a difficult word. You can use “charity” in some instances, but you can’t in others so it has to be translated to “love.”

I don’t know the history and quality of the Chinese translations you have access to. It’d be interesting for someone who is bilingual to read both side by side. Granted, that probably isn’t the best if you’re looking for devotional reading.

If you are most comfortable with Chinese, I’d go with that.


#8

Yes. I like to read Spanish versions because they give me a better understanding of certain verses of Scripture. For example. In English, there is no difference between the singular and plural “you”. In other words, “you” is both singular and plural. Thus, when Jesus says to St. Peter, “Simon, you are Rock”, some Protestants claim that Jesus meant all the Apostles. While others claim that He meant Himself. However, that is cleared up when you see that the Spanish Bibles, without exception, translate that with the singular form of the pronoun, “tu eres Pedro”.

Part of the reason is that, upon reading Thomas A Nelson’s Polemic “Which Bible Should you Read?”, especially in light of the passage he quoted, I realized that it is quite frequent that we did an additional translation when I am reading an English bible. In particular:

1: “Let all your things be done in charity”. There are no “charity” in chinese; it will always be rendered as 愛, which is “love”.

In fact, that is correct. If you do a search for the word, “caritas”, which is the root word for “charity”, you will see that it means, “love”.

*char·i·ty
.
an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.
synonyms: nonprofit organization, voluntary organization, charitable institution; More
2.
the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.
synonyms: financial assistance, aid, welfare, relief, financial relief; More
3.
kindness and tolerance in judging others.
"she found it hard to look on her mother with much charity"
synonyms: goodwill, compassion, consideration, concern, kindness, kindheartedness, tenderness, tenderheartedness, sympathy, indulgence, tolerance, leniency, caritas; literarybounteousness
"show a bit of charity"
Origin

late Old English (in the sense ‘Christian love of one’s fellows’): from Old French charite, from Latin caritas, from carus ‘dear.’*
google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=etymology+charity&oq=etymology+charity&gs_l=psy-ab.3…0j0i8i30k1l2.28077.28077.0.29513.1.1.0.0.0.0.182.182.0j1.1.0…0…1.1.64.psy-ab…0.1.182.LHRn3uGqvP0

In fact, in dun Scotus, it just goes “你們的一切事,都應以愛而行。” (Your everything should be act based on love) This is not unlike the translation that use “love”

That is accurate.

2: “…and suffer the loss of his own soul/life” (Matt 16:26): Since the Chinese concept of Soul is tied to life, use of “life” instead of “soul” can fly over easily, as it meant the same once through the “internal translation”

If the chinese word for soul is life, then I don’t see a problem.

3: “I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth” (Rev:3:16) In Cantonese Chinese, vomit is rendered “嘔吐”, but commonly in Mandarin they will just use “吐”… or “spit”. The Chinese Catholic bible also ended up using “我必要從我口中把你吐出去” (I must from my mouth spit you out)

Yes, spit or spue or spew, meaning to eject from the mouth. All convey the appropriate meaning.

There are possibly plenty other passage that would make me (despite living in Canada for over 20 years) that require a “second internal translation.” In that light, what’s your opinion regarding a Non-Native English Speaker in an English region to use English bible?

I think it is wise, as long as you make certain to always remain consistent with Catholic Doctrine.

113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church"81).

scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a3.htm#116

I don’t know whether this would also help you:

vatican.va/chinese/ccc_zh.htm


#9

Wonderful advice! :thumbsup:


closed #10

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