Sunday, March 21, 2010

Translation anomalies and the origin of ethics


Jewish date:  6 Nisan 5770 (Parashath Ṣaw).

Today’s holidays:  Fifth Sunday of Lent (Roman Catholicism), Spring Equinox (Thelema), Naw-Rúz (Bahá’í Faith).

Topic 1:  Yet another translation problem:  The King James Version translates the Hebrew minḥah (used  first  in Leviticus 2:4 and periodically afterwards) as “meat offering”.  While this may have been an accurate translation in the days of King James I, the meaning of “meat” has changed substantially since then.  The actual meaning of minḥah, which makes sense in context, is “flour offering”.

I also came across a translation anomaly in the New Testament recently, too.  In the story of the prodigal son, Luke 15:16 specifically, pigs are described in the original Greek as eating keratiōn.  The King James Version translates this as “husks”, while the New International Version says “pods”.  But the dictionary claimed something rather more specific:  “St. John’s bread”, also known as “carobs” and Ceratonia siliqua.  I have no idea why this discrepancy exists.

Topic 2:  “The Ethical Dog”.  There is a major question about where morality and ethics come from.  My view is that they are social constructs which may (or may not) be imposed by a god.  This article notes that the constructs have evolutionary roots:  ethics evolved because they aid the survival of those who play by the rules and thus getting genes on to the next generation.

Topic 3:  For today’s religious humor:  “My temple is prepared.
funny pictures of cats with captions
I am under the impression that at least some cats really seem to think this way.


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