I recently read what was presented as an African proverb:
When elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.
(I’ve also seen it as “it is the grass that suffers”; the idea is the same)
Like most proverbs, this can be applied a number of different ways. Where I’ve tried to take it to heart is to remember that so often when I go to battle, somebody (or something) suffers. There is collateral damage.
So I’m trying to do better at choosing my battles. Is this Facebook argument worth the cost? Am I willing to damage friendships, reduce ministry effectiveness, expend valuable time over that political argument or that doctrinal discussion? Is that change at church important enough to cause others to leave our congregation?
Sometimes, of course, the answer is yes. Many times, however, I have to admit that even if I “win” the argument, I won’t accomplish much of anything that is positive. And the grass gets trampled.
I may have to print that one out and keep it above my computer.
I rarely read those group e-mails that get sent out. If someone wants to send me something, they can send it to me personally. I especially avoid anything that says “Fwd:” in the subject line.
But the other day I read an article that a brother was sending to a lot of us who work among Spanish speakers. When I got to the bottom of the article, I realized that it had merely been copied from a web site.
The writer was attacking the “modern versions,” especially focusing on Acts 20:28. He was defending the 1602 Valera version in Spanish and the 1611 King James version in English — not realizing, of course, that these two versions disagree with one another on the translation of this particular verse. The article railed against Westcott and Hort and the Alexandrian texts that they followed, praising the integrity of the Byzantine texts. It accused later versions of wanting to deny the deity of Jesus by changing “church of God” to “church of the Lord” in this verse.
Unfortunately, whoever wrote this particular piece apparently hadn’t done their homework. Several Alexandrian texts read “church of God” in this passage. Several Byzantine texts read “church of the Lord.” And there are lots of variants from there. In English, it’s the King James that reads “church of the Lord” and the modern texts which read “church of God.” It just so happened that that trend was reversed in Spanish.
What I find sad is that people can be so intent on arguing about something that they will argue even when they have little understanding of the subject they are arguing about! I especially tire of this when it comes to versions, as accusations are thrown around about “they made this change to promote ___.”
I have long said that I in my years of study I have only found one version that made intentional changes while translating: the New World Translations produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Admittedly, there may be some that I haven’t seen. And I know that the Conservative Bible Project is doing their level best to produce a “translation” that will match their views. But in general, translators are trying to do just that: translate.
I’m going to try and do better about giving people the benefit of the doubt, especially those that disagree with me. I hope you’ll do the same.