Poimen and Tekton

 

Robert Fitzgerald, the highly regarded translator of Homer, writes in his postscript of The Odyssey: “… It [The Odyssey] can no more be translated into English than rhododendron can be translated into dogwood. You must learn Greek if you want to experience Homer….” Not a reader of any foreign language, I am glad to have such a translator as Fitzgerald who admits that his craft is not sufficient to do justice to the original.  I recently encountered David Bentley Hart’s new translation of the New Testament which I enjoy and use. In our Sunday School, we are reading and studying The Forgotten Jesus by Robby Gallaty to better the Eastern Rabbi, Jesus.

Reared as a Southern Baptist, I grew up reading or hearing the KJV translation of the Bible. As an adult I wandered– sometimes a Catholic, a Lutheran, a Brethren, and sometimes a none. Yet, as an English teacher, I read and sometimes taught stories from the KJV. No translation I read had its poetry and grace. We memorized the 23rd Psalm and Lord’s Prayer and knew what the archaic words meant. And out of the KJV I held to certain beliefs, such as from Matthew 13:55: “Is not this [Jesus] the carpenter’s son?” Then last week I read in Gallaty this: “Read aloud Matthew 16:18; 21:24; and 1 Peter 2:4-5. If Jesus likely grew up working with stones as His father did, ….” I thought Gallaty had made a huge mistake or the printer did, but when I asked Pastor Steve about the passage, I learned that my understanding of Josephs’ craft was wrong and came to realize that I had been a lazy reader of Scripture who accepted Church tradition. As if to follow that experience, this past week in Wednesday night Bible study, Pastor Jerry taught about sheep and shepherd. Another enlightening followed by my friend Mike who directed me to my favorite commentator, William Barclay, and his view of Mark 6: 1-6.

I faced my arrogance and re-read and listened. I discovered the various meanings of tekton. I learned about the relationship between a 1st century shepherd {poimen) and his sheep, I felt like some of the disciples who asked Jesus to explain certain parables. For a brief and silly time, I felt as if I had been betrayed by my cherished KJV. But as I listened to my two Pastors, I came to realize that, just as I had told my students of literature, I had to be an active reader of my text and commentaries. I had to see the wisdom of Gallaty and his guidance into the life of an Eastern Rabbi during the 1st Century.  It was then that I came to see Joseph and Jesus as craftsmen (Hart and Barclay’s word) or carpenters, or handymen and could grasp the idea of Jesus as a shepherd over His flock. Then I came to a deeper understanding of foundations and shepherds.

And perhaps I will try to lean Greek. Then I will not be dependent on any translator.

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