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Traduzindo Literatura Cristã

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Translating Christian literature:

a worldwide mission

WALLANY PEREIRA SOARES PINTO

RESEARCH PAPER FOR DISCURSO ESCRITO II- LET 1548

PROFª: MÁRCIA AMORIM

RIO DE JANEIRO

PONTIFÍCIA UNIVERSIDADE CATÓLICA DO RIO DE JANEIRO

DEPARTAMENTO DE LETRAS

29 NOVEMBRO DE 2011

Translating Christian literature:

a worldwide mission

Abstract

Although the Christian literature is widespreading throughout the world, there is still much material to be translated in the field of evangelization. Therefore, the translator has a great responsibility especially regarding the mission field. In this study, five people were interviewed about the importance of translating Christian books as a mean of evangelization, if they have read such translated works and what impact has caused for them. Much has responded positively to the questionnaire, others felt that the awakening of faith in their hearts is condicioned to a proper and well thought out literary translation. These findings prove that the Christian literature has blessed the lives of several people, but on the translator shoulders lies the major duty in order to get the full understanding of the works to be translated.

Introduction

        Much has been said or written about evangelization. Clearly, such approaches are relevant. However, little attention is given regarding the translation of Christian literature as an instrument of evangelization. It is common among believers the need to preach the gospel and Christian literature lends this value in achieving that result, functioning as a link between people of different cultures.

This subject has been explored by other authors, translation as a mean of evangelization dates back from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with the colonization of America, where it fell to the Jesuits among other functions, the conversion of Indians. Naturally, it was expected that the translators would help the spread of Christianity and the consolidation of Spanish dominance (Deslile J. & Woodworth J, 1997). The first Spanish interpreter-translator of Columbus was Don Luis de Torres, a converted Jew who knew Castilian, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Armenian, and considered himself so well equipped to handle the languages of the New World .

One study in this area mentioned the translation of western classic texts in to local language of Malabar with the purpose of evangelism. The Portuguese missionaries were the first westerners to create a net of schools in India, where classic Greek, Latin and Portuguese were taught. In this sense they learned the popular languages as well the classic in which the sacred texts of India were written. The aim was to know the theological sources of Hinduism to better refute and to evangelize (Calazans,2009).

Another study concerning the translation of Christian literature addresses the issue of the so called sensitive or sacred text and its difficulties in translating it. In his Dictionary of Philosophy Mora (1995, p. 2641) provides a general definition about the term sensibility:

“The meanings of today's most widespread term concerning "sensitivity" are: the ability to feel (for example, pain, fear, sorrow, joy), the disposition to tenderness, usually to another human being, the ability to perceive, or give up account, characters, qualities and values ​​into something very common in some work of art, as when we say of someone who is sensitive to painting or music”.¹

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¹ The citation was originally in Portuguese, however, a translation in English was provided for the purpose of this paper.

Pagano defines the sacred texts as sensitive in the sense that there is great emotional involvement by the users and extreme reactions on the part of listeners / readers (Pagano, 2001). The sacred texts reveal themselves as sensitive as it demonstrates an emotional involvement by those who worship them. Most of the readers of these books and, above all, readers of the Bible only access through translation.

Although this theme is approached by a few authors, the relatively sparse research on translation and evangelism has left room for further investigation. Most of the studies focus on the translation of the Bible. Not much is read, however, about the effect of the translated Christian literature in peoples lives, if they actually make a difference or not.

This paper aims to analyze the aspect of translation as a tool for evangelism and its consequent use in the missionary field. The mission field is vast and complex. It is complex due to difficulty in some countries to reach the Christian literature to the non-Christian people. The research does not intend to address this difficulty, while acknowledging that it exists. Rather, it gives a focus on the positioning of Christians and newly converted concerning the Christian literature. There are of course other forms of evangelization, such as the simple preaching of the Word of God, distribution of brochures, musical performances in public places and so on. This study will address the personal testimony regarding the translation of a literary work and its practical effect in the lives of the interviewees.

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