In reading “My Name is Red” Peter has a distinct advantage over me. He knows the city, Istanbul, the literature and the history, as well as some of the language. So, how much did I miss. Evidently I did miss some. However, I had read a little history previous to reading the novel so that helped and I just let the city speak for itself. I was not familiar with the literature referred to, but that did not stop me from following the plot. It is an intriguing novel no matter how much background knowledge you have.
Peter brings up a lot of translation issues but I can only respond to one. About transliteration, Peter writes,
- But I am also aware of many things which I must be missing because I am reading a translation. There are surely a number of word plays in the book. One which I could recognise, but only with the help of obscure dictionaries, is when the dog in chapter 3 calls the preacher character not “Nusret”, meaning “help”, but “Husret”, apparently meaning “damage”. Actually probably most Turks would not catch that one.But I suspect that the Turkish text of the book is full of word plays which cannot be brought out in translation and so which I have missed completely.
Then a note on the translation of personal names. I was a little surprised to find that the name of the central character of the book, Black, is obviously a translation. So are the nicknames Elegant, Olive, Butterfly and Stork, presumably because these have a clear meaning in the text. Maybe Black will turn out similarly to have a meaning of significance to the plot, at least as a word play, but not so far.
This really got me thinking about how Paul was bilingual himself and included a certain amount of word play in 1 Cor. 15:35-49. I wonder how this passage would sound if it was translated without transliterating Adam’s name and keeping other words concordant. Of course, one would have to go back and retranslate the first few chapters of Genesis as well. However, Adam does mean “of the earth – Earthling” so I thought I would try it.
All translations have “human” in verse 39 so I thought I would keep that consistent along with soul, seed and a few other words. Does this change our view of the passage, or do we simply appreciate the language better, but the meaning is the same? What do you think?
- But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you seed, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same: Humans have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is seeded is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is seeded in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is seeded in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is seeded a soulful body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a soulful body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first human Earthling became a living soul” [f]; the last Earthling, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the soulful, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first human was of the dust of the earth; the second human is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly human, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly human, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly human, so shall we [g] bear the image of the heavenly human.
This would match up better with Gen. 2:7 if it was translated,
- And the LORD God formed Earthling of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Earthling became a living soul.
Is it purely tradition that we don’t have a translation like this and is that a good thing? Do we consider tradition to be part of God’s providential role over the centuries in how this is translated, or can we start afresh? Does this sound like a feminist deconstruction of the text or an ultraliteral and transparent rendering? After all, the stars and the sun and moon, the fish and birds and animals all have their given names, shouldn’t humanity bear its name?
Doesn’t this lead us with more comprehension into the next section in 1 Cor. 15 where humans do not go down into the dust but will be raised unto life? I am not sure if this all fits together, how does it sound to your ears?
Update: John has responded in his update with a link to pull you into the conversation. He opines that in pulling a rabbit out of the hat, I may yet be grounded enough to be flushing the rabbit from a genuine rabbit hole. Huh? Maybe he means that it is a real rabbit.