Tuesday, 16 December 2008

problems with a Bible translation in India

ENI is reporting the following story about problems with a Bible translation in eastern India. Here's the full story:

A dispute over the translation of a Hebrew word meaning "green" or "leafy" tree in the Old Testament of the Bible has led to vociferous protests by local people in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

The controversy concerns a passage in the Book of Deuteronomy (12:2), which states, in the English translation of the New Revised Standard Version, "You must demolish completely all the places where the nations whom you are about to dispossess served their gods, on the mountain heights, on the hills, and under every leafy tree."
Problems emerged when local activists spotted that in the translation into the Kurukh dialect, the tree was referred to as a "Sarna" tree, a species that local rural people, referred to as tribals, hold in great reverence.
Tribal activists had burned an effigy of Roman Catholic Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, a former president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India who in 2003 became the first tribal person from India to be elevated as a cardinal.
"It was never intended to hurt the local sentiments and we have acted immediately as soon as it was brought to our attention," said Soma Bhatkar, who represents the Bible Society in India in Jharkhand and Bihar. In early December she had convened a meeting of secular scholars on the subject and collected more than 600 copies of the translation available in bookshops. These will be corrected with non-controversial phrases such as "green trees", she noted.
"The Bible should not be a cause of hurt to any one," B. K. Pramnik, the general secretary of the Bible society told Ecumenical News International from his headquarters in Bangalore. "So, we have promptly withdrawn the available copies of the translation that were printed 10 years ago."
Acknowledging the translators made an "unintentional mistake", Pramnik said the society had also appealed to local congregations to bring the Bibles for correction to its regional office in Ranchi as more than 2000 copies were printed when the translation was released.