What is love? (Baby, don’t hurt me.)Posted: August 26, 2011
There is a lot to be said for the Musslemen and their religion. There are, no doubt, some sections in the writings of Mahomet that can be found objectionable, but this is the case for almost all writers. What Mahomet, or at least his followers, did that is certainly praise-worthy is forbid the translation of his work. Strictly speaking, there are no “English translations” of the Coran; there are only “English interpretations.” This helps prevent quite a number of misunderstandings.
If one has been to three English language Christian weddings, then he has heard a reading from Chapter 13 of The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians at least twice. “Love is patient. Love is kind.” Love is… not what St. Paul was writing about. At least not love the way people commonly think about it. And certainly not the sort of love that is typified by that of a blushing bride for her bridegroom. The original Greek is “αγάπη.” Agape is a selfless love for humanity as a whole. It is not brotherly love or erotic love, but a detached, spiritual love. Earlier English translations used “Charity” since they were actually translating from the Vulgate of St. Jerome, a 4th century Latin translation which used “Caritas” for Agape. The use of “Charity” today sounds pretty funny when one gets to the third verse: “Suppose I give everything I have to poor people. And…I don’t have Charity.”
For a long time, the Catholic Church held that the Bible could not be translated from Latin into the common tongue. (Of course, the fact that the Latin Bible was itself a translation of the original didn’t seem to bother anybody.) But then Martin Luther and his buddy Gutenberg came along and pumped out a whole heap of German language Bibles. No doubt there are subtle problems in the German version, but what can you do? Such is the price one pays for not reading every written work in its original language. The problem is simply unavoidable and one must either suffer through it or become fluent in every language that has interesting authors.
Beer of the Week: Löwenbräu Original – There are a few beers that I love for their taste, their history and the memories they invoke. This beer is one of them. The reader can determine for himself what sort of love can exist between man and beer. Löwenbräu is a nice example of the Munich Helles Lager. It is golden and has some of the spicy hops character of a pilsner, but is maltier and not quite as bitter. Löwenbräu has a pleasant but somewhat weak aroma which has some nice earthy tones. The flavor is light and malty, but the crisp hops are present throughout. This is just a really good beer.
Reading of the week: The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, Chapter 13 – Paul names Agape, Faith and Hope as the three most important things to have, and Agape, the most important of all. Not only does he outline the importance of Agape, he makes a bold and inspiring statement: “When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
Question of the week: Although more evident in poetry, are the difficulties of translation more important in spiritual/philosophical texts?