November 17, 2006

Names

I was reading a book yesterday about Bible translations. It was discussing the question of using the name of the local deity in the local language to translate "God."

The idea made me uncomfortable, I must admit. Not that I know anything about this stuff, to be sure. So take what I say with a grain of salt, at least.

Nevertheless, "God" is not an utterance that is somebody's name. It is a clumsy placeholder of a term with it's referent in a transcendent Reality that is quite beyond our naming. This goes for the abstract nouns Elohim or Theos or for Biblical titles of God like Adonai or Kyrios.

God does reveal a name to Moses, YHWH, but it's cryptic and hardly a name in any sense that relates to our experience. Jesus reveals God as Father, which isn't a name but a suggestion of a particular kind of relationship.

Thus it seems to me that translating the complex utterance "God" with a proper name doesn't make much sense, religiously or theologically.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

Nice work, Friar,

Stah Mahket in Glosta... Being a native Bostonian, that made me smile.

Seriously, though, wonderful homily. Very good work.

Peace.

friar minor said...

Thanks Jeff, for the encouragement.