Sunday, June 20, 2010

Consider This: Of the "Father's" Love Begotten

For Father's Day, here's an example of masculine imagery of God perpetuated through bad translation.

Worshipers might be family with the Advent/Christmas hymn Of the Father's Love Begotten

Verse 1

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

So this is a pretty decent look at the magnitude of God, but look at all the he language.  It's all set up by the pesky "Father" in the opening line.

Now here's a look at the first line in the original Latin hymn by Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius.

Corde natus ex parentis

Parentis is another form of the Latin parens which translates to English as parent not father as in In loco parentis (in place of a parent). 

Now ask yourself, why, when both options are two syllable words, the latter is chosen for the hymn instead of the more correct translation?  And that translation sets up the masculine language that is used throughout the entire hymn.

I'm not against masculine language for God. A balance of masculine, feminine and gender neutral language is wonderful, but when possible in that pursuit, it's ideal to reflect the author's original intent. Something I appreciate in the printing of that hymn in the New Century Hymnal which chose to look at the Latin and create a translation which holds more closely to the original.

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