One reason to study the Bible, or anything, is to see your surroundings and your relationship to the people, animals, and environment around you in a new way, a better, more useful way, a way in which you are happier, more successful, and safe.
Our brain loves novelty, making new connections, and learning. Understanding the world around us makes us more appreciative of the beauty, gives us a sense of well-being and security.
Research from second language learning indicates that when we learn a new language, even a few words, we make new connections in our brain. This facilitates knowledge and our ability to travel more widely but it also helps with healing and invigorating the brain.
There is an idea among people who only speak one language that different languages are simply different words for the same thing. Anyone who speaks two or three or more languages know that this is not true. We translate words as if they mean the same thing, but a deeper investigation shows that a particular word in different languages has nuanced differences, and often creates a different feeling in the listener when spoken or read.
Here is a look at a Bible passage, Galatians 5:22-23 translated into Indonesian, a language of Indonesia in Southern Asia. Notice the words are not even the same in these two English translations.
English―New International Bible:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
English―King James Bible:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Indonesian (ayt, ind), Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesia)—Terjemahan Lama (TL)
Galatians (Galatia) 5:22 Tetapi buah-buahan Roh, ialah kasih (love), sukacita (joy), perdamaian (peace), panjang hati (panjang (long, length), heart), kemurahan, kebaikan, setiawan (loyal, loyalist, stalwart, fast, truehearted), 23 lemah lembut (lemah (weak, feeble, frail, break, fail), lembut (soft, gentle, delicate, tender, frail), tahan nafsu (tahan (restrain, endure, confine, detain, durable), nafsu (vice, lust, frailty, zeal, lustfulness) Maka tiada ada hukum yang melarangkan yang demikian.
In Indonesian tahan nafsu is translated self-control but the meaning may be much richer “tahan” is to restrain endure, confine, detain, durable “nafsu” is vice lust, frailty, zeal, lustfulness it can be literally translated into restrain vice confine lust detain lustfulness endure frailty or make zeal durable is zeal related to lust is it going too far how is frailty in the mix does frailty preclude self-control or is understanding our frailty a part of self-control?
Indonesian (ayt, ind), Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesia)—Alkitab Terjemahan Baru (TB) 2018: Galatian (Galatia) 5:22 Tetapi buah Roh ialah: kasih (love), sukacita (joy), damai sejahtera (peace), kesabaran, kemurahan, kebaikan, kesetiaan, 23 kelemahlembutan, penguasaan diri. Tidak ada hukum yang menentang hal-hal itu.
Are Kindness and Mercy the Same?
Love - Kasih (love, enjoy, warmheartedness, philia, passion) Joy - Sukacita (joy, gay, merry, festal, jolly, regimentation, feeling happy appreciation), Peace- Damai Sejahtera Damai (quiet, make up, settle, smooth, peace) Sejahtera (prosperous) Forbearance - Kesabaran (forbearance, longanimity, control, fortitude, resignation) Kindness - Kemurahan (mercy) Goodness - Kebaikan (improvement, good, kindness, benefit, virtue) Faithfulness - Kesetiaan (loyalty, devotion, faithfulness, fidelity, devotedness) Gentleness - Kelemahlembutan (gentleness) Self-Control - Ppenguasaan diri Penguasaan (mastery, control, supremacy, dominance, ascendency) Diri (establish, found, stand up, ground, personal)
Indonesian (ayt), Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesia)—Alkitab dalam Bahasa Indonesia Masa Kini (BIMK):
Galatian (Galatia) 5:22 Sebaliknya, kalau orang-orang dipimpin oleh Roh Allah, hasilnya ialah: Mereka saling mengasihi, mereka gembira, mereka mempunyai ketenangan hati, mereka sabar dan berbudi, mereka baik terhadap orang lain, mereka setia, 23 mereka rendah hati, dan selalu sanggup menguasai diri. Tidak ada hukum agama yang melarang hal-hal seperti itu.
Planning for Love, Joy and Peace
Strung between the words I thought "mereka" would mean "and" in Indonesian but found it means plan, concoct, devise, contrive, cook up as in planning for love concocting joy devising peace contriving patience and cooking up good Love - mereka saling mengasihi "Mereka (plan, concoct, devise, contrive, cook up) "Saling" (reciprocally, mutual, inversely, common, mutually), Mengasihi (love, adore, enjoy) Joy - mereka gembira "Mereka (plan, concoct, devise, contrive, cook up) "Gembira" (joy, glad, boisterous, elated, debonair) Peace- mereka mempunyai ketenangan hati "Mempunyai" (have, hold, get, bear, carry), "Ketenangan" (peace, calmness, ease, tranquility) "Hati" (heart, center, heart and soul, mettle, liver) Patience - mereka sabar dan berbudi "Sabar" (tolerate, tame, tolerant, patient, meek) "Dan" (and, with) "Berbudi" (kindness) Goodness - mereka baik terhadap orang lain "Baik" (good, well, kind, undecomposed, serious) "Terhadap" (all around or on all sides) "Orang" (be, folk, man, dude, person) "Lain" (different, other, dissimilar, alternative, unlike) Faithfulness - mereka setia "Setia" (loyal, faithful, trusty, stalwart, commit) Meekness - mereka rendah hati "Rendah" (low, small, little, lowly, primary) "Hati" (heart, center, heart and soul, mettle, liver) Self-Control - selalu sanggup menguasai diri "Selalu" (regularly, frequent, always, flock, oft) "Sanggup" (mettlesome, spunky, willing, gamy, gamey) "Menguasai" (control, master, overcome, subject, dominate) "Diri" (establish, found, stand up, ground, personal)
Have you gained a new sense of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? How do the words land on your brain and heart when translated from another language? Can you imagine how these words sound to native speakers of Indonesian. Do they think about the mutual affection embedded in love or is it simply “saling mengasihi?”
“The Power of Words” is the topic of Saturday’s Coffee Talk, which be online at 10 a.m. Register to get the Zoom link!
- The Impact of Language on the Brain, Creating New Neuronal Connections and Bible Study - July 30, 2020
- Balancing Creativity, Generosity and Diversity - January 30, 2020
- Biblical Peace - July 3, 2019
- Finding Poetic Emotions - March 28, 2019
- Establishing Ties and Taming Peace - February 7, 2019
- Safety, Dreams and Peace of Mind - January 11, 2019
- A Generous Peaceful New Year - January 2, 2019
- Music Carrier of Intention and Cymatics - May 6, 2016
- Birth, Belief, and Rules: Connecting or Dividing Us? - February 29, 2016
- Poet and “Genocide” Survivor, Alicia Partnoy Speaking at Gonzaga - February 22, 2016