The Indefinite Article

Christian monotheism hinges on a word that isn’t there—the bias of translation

Imagine the daunting task of translating an ancient text into your own language.

If the work means anything to you, it can be helped along by extrapolating the story line to fit your beliefs. The New Testament is filled with interpolations by the translators, but one in particular has my interest.

You see, in Greek there is no indefinite article—no a’s prefacing a proper noun. Whether the kingdom of heaven is a monarchy or a republic hinges on how translators add their own little words that don’t appear in the Greek. Lets take St. John for an example. In chapter 10:30-36 —I and my Father are one.

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? (82 Psalm)

35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? See, there is no the in the original Greek. Non-biased translation of the missing article would be a son of god, meaning; of the nature of god.

I know that doesn’t seem like a real big deal, but a son of god makes heaven a republic, not a monarchy. Son of god—of the nature of god. That Jesus did not think his status peculiar to himself (he thought everyone could realize this) the Hebrew roots in monotheism demanded he walk a fine line or be executed. Jesus, however, was more Hindu or Buddhic in nature than Jewish, which is what Christianity is—without the intellect.

“You may notice that these non-translations are based on dogma—for religious reasons” Article HERE you may find interesting. It’s all been translated with dogmatic bias.


Author: jimoeba

Alternatives to big box religions and dogmas

30 thoughts on “The Indefinite Article”

  1. Two things.
    Graven images refers to man-made replicas of naturally-occuring items, such as statues or paintings of living or dead beings. I once questioned a Catholic priest about all the graven images in his church, to wit, a statue of Christ, a painting of the Virgin, even unto the wafers used to represent the body of Christ during communion. He almost threw a conniption right in front of me. “Those are not graven images, those are sacred representations! How dare I suggest they are graven images!” He hoped his God would strike me dead right there. Needless to say, this did not happen, at least not yet.
    Secondly, I cannot remember the exact situation anymore, but I took a course in Old English at university many years ago. An assignment we were given was to translate a bit of parchment from the ancient language, which had almost no relationship to modern English or even modern Frisian, the language English was originally based upon. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say certain words were marked as the parts of speech they represented, I guess there were many uses for the same word spelling. Certain words were followed by grammatic descriptors in brackets such as (adj), (adv), (past tense), and (ger). These were apparently written on the parchment, so it was just a copy of the original, and therefore to be believed as probably correct. I failed the test, very unusual for a straight A student, so I met with my prof to see what the problem was.
    My translation was exactly like his, until we got to the word followed by the descriptor (ger). He had translated this word as itself, explaining the word was in its German form, probably without an Old English equivalent. I said no, the (ger) represented gerund, a verb ending in -ing used as a noun. He was an English prof, specializing in Old English. He had to ask me, “What’s a gerund?” I just about shit my shorts. How had he made it as far as he did not knowing what a gerund was. “Parting,” as in “the parting of the Red Sea,’ is a gerund meaning “asunder,” more or less, though asunder is an adverb posing as an adjective being used as a noun in this case. Translating the word as “the …….ing” instead of as an untranslatable Old German word gave the piece a completely different meaning. And it all made much better sense than however he has translated it. I got my A, with a couple of ++ signs behind it, but that is just my ego bragging.
    I relate this event to show how easy it is to mistranslate something when one does not have all the needed information to begin with.
    I did not read the whole “article” you suggested, but what struck me was how the writer could question the translations he was looking at, but not question the source. Christ was a divine being to him, and actually spoke the words attributed to him, even though they were not written down for centuries after the supposed fact. All it would take was a slight change in viewpoint, and his theory would present a whole different result. But no, he was unable to make that leap. His bias was too ingrained.
    I wonder if he ever changed his tune.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would say graven image would be objectifying anything, for everything is a subject, not an object. There is some partial wisdom in the text, lost in translation, of course. I’ll give you an A+ too

      Liked by 1 person

  2. brilliant!! 💪 “Traduttore, Traditore” – The cultural interchange spawned the Italian phrase, Traduttore, traditore: Translator, traitor. First applied to the French by irate Italians who felt that many French-language translations of Dante betrayed either the beauty or the accuracy of the work, this clever consonance plays upon the worst fears of an international society.

    Is it possible to remain entirely faithful to the text one translates? And are there words, phrases, and entire ideas that simply escape translation?
    the unavoidable and terrifying hazards of knowledge transmission.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ”Translator, traitor.” That really a great connection. It fascinates me that Christianity does not comprehend its real message. Is it simply because they know no other to compare?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. maybe it fitted their purpose in those times, needing something ‘other-worldly’ unreachable. the highest was the king/emperor, and after the king, only something heavenly was possible. who can say?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Everything is a translation to us, with the possible exception of Mormon documents. There are no original Bible (NT or OT) texts to translate. Some old documents, but not originals. But even if we had the originals, so what? Everything written by anyone is replete with opinion and bias, intentional or not (in my opinion). And let’s not even talk about interpretation.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Jim, fabulous post and provocative insights! 🙂

    You may or may not remember that a month or three ago I was discussing the linguistical difficulties and impossibilities of the 4th-century CE New Testament’s Greek translations—in particular the late Synoptic Gospels—of the Semitic Mishnaic-Hebrew language of the Zugot (170 BCE–30 CE) and Tannaim (10–220 CE) Periods, i.e. the Hebrew Yeshua bar Josef (Jesus) spoke fluently in Synagogues, Hebrew festivals, etc… and the Semitic Syriac-Aramaic language he spoke fluently in public in Galilee, Judea, etc. Neither of these two languages can be 100% translated, interpolated, or extrapolated correctly by a Greek-speaking, Greek-writing scribe of Greco-Roman origin. Period! It cannot be done. Also, WHY are there no extant Mishnaic-Hebrew Gospels? Everything the modern Catholic and Protestant churches and seminaries today possess are ALL, every single copy of a copy, is written in Greek. Not Yeshua bar Yosef’s (Jesus’) native tongues. Why not?

    Rabbi Nehemia Gordon, an up and coming Jewish scholar of ancient Hebrew, explains at length why it was practically impossible for a Greco-Roman scribe or translator to accurately copy Mishnaic-Hebrew and/or Syriac-Aramaic into Koine Greek, the language of our original and modern New Testaments, by way of a reconstructed Hebrew-version of the Gospel Matthew. If interested, here is that 1-hour video on this topic. The point I am making with Rabbi Gordon is that the two Semitic languages do not at all easily transcribe over to Greek. There is just simply way too many contextual and phonetic meanings in the two Semitic languages for Greeks in the 2nd–4th century Roman Empire to understand accurately:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I missed your post D. I’ve missed a lot lately building this addition. Working on the wiring now on my days off. Hopefully have it buttoned up this weekend.
      Thank you for the insights. Feel free to link your stuff anytime you want. It is much more possible to translate if you already have an idea what you want to say…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. All of this confusion could have been avoided if God had had the foresight not to confuse the language of the people building that tower in the land of Shinar all those years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You Stated — “I know that doesn’t seem like a real big deal, but a son of god makes heaven a republic, not a monarchy.”

    My Response — There may be no need for either. Whatever perception we have of an external structure, (like this or even another country or community), are filtered through our daily reality and/or understanding. It may have just been a reference to the linage of an individual with no expectation of describing the local culture, hierarchy, or political structure.

    This is also what may have caused some confusion when first communicating with American Indians, first encounters with them were filtered through a Euro understand, whereas they were more of a shared structure between Age, skill, and shaman. Iran also comes to mind since they have a dual presidential leader next to a religious leader.

    Just a thought

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not much. Elohim, El, Shaddai, Elyon, Adonai, and Tseboath were all names used instead of the tetragrammaton YHWH, and they stem from the Canaanite pantheon. . El, of course, was the head of the Canaanite pantheon, Tseboath is the Canaanite god of armies, and Shaddai (the Destroyer) originates from the Sumerian pantheon which would have influenced the Hebrew elite greatly after the Babylonians routed Judah and relocated many from the educated classes back east for a few hundred years until freed by the Cyrus II.

        And didn’t Yhwh marry Ashera, El’s wide and Yhwh’s mother? There’s a steele or something with an inscription saying that. Seems to be an attempt to usurp power and go full dictatorship.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. What you just wrote is just one more bit of history that “the Christians” are clueless about. One can’t help but wonder what would happen if a “visiting” preacher were to share this information during a sermon. Think he’d get a return invite?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. The OT is pretty obviously an attempt to (gently) meld the old pantheons into some new product. I mean, hell, Yhwh is the god of Judah, not Israel. Israel took its name from El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon, El, Mamlekhet Yisra’el.

            Understanding the time between the 8/7th Century BC (when Israel was sacked by the Assyrians and Judah rose in import) and ~500 BC (exile and return) is critical to understanding the religious story.

            Liked by 2 people

      2. Found it:

        7th Century Hebrew inscriptions at Kuntilet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Kom we see ‘YHWH and his Asherah’, ‘YHWH Shomron and his Asherah’, and, ‘YHWH Teman and his Asherah.’ Alone, these sites are proof-positive Yahweh was a pantheon deity.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. There’s some good articles on the finds.

            And I made a mistake above. I wrote the Babylonians routed Judah. Ooops. The Assyrians sacked Israel (722BCE), and the Judeans aligned themselves with the invaders, which was their opening to seed their god (Yhwh) in the minds of the (weakened) Israelites.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s funny this day and age, those who are the most reactive and aggressive, and defensive about conspiracies are subjects of the greatest con of all time.

              Liked by 2 people

            2. Word has it that God was really nice until he went through a messy divorce. Hence the reason why he later became an angry and vengeful bastard.

              Liked by 2 people

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