Monday, 21 December 2009

The mysterious word becomes flesh

Working and worshiping in a multilingual environment I end up having not entirely theological thoughts about the vagaries of biblical translation.
Does it change the meaning when the glories of the prologue to John's gospel are translated in the masculine, feminine or neuter? Suzanne Mccarthy has written much more eruditely than I could on whether logos is best translated as he, she or it.
This morning as we met for the final Monday morning prayers of the year I pondered the meaning or significance of gendered renderings of logos into our various langauges. German is clear with its neuter das Wort, French varies between le Verbe and la Parole depending on the translation. English - a normally ungendered language - nearly always refers to the Word as he, sometimes even as He.
Suzanne quotes Joel on John's prologue:
I believe that by using ‘it’, we allow John to breathe a bit, free of theology and dogma.

This morning I realised that the different translations and languages helped me to glimpse and comprehend in some small way the significance of the mystery of the ungendered gendered word becoming flesh.
The first of the great Advent antiphones begins with wisdom, sophia or logos. As we prayed and lit candles, sang and listened and kept silence we celebrated something of the known unknown mystery of the word or wisdom becoming flesh.

O wisdom, coming forth from the Most High,
filling all creation and reigning to the ends of the earth;
come and teach us the way of truth. Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus.