Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Found in Translation

Tuesday we visited the British Museum. Another "wow" experience!

My favorite stop was the Rosetta stone. I am in good company since this is considered the most visited item in the museum's vast collection.

Short version: the Rosetta stone is a 1700 pound slab of black granite found in the Nile River delta by French troops in 1799. The monument contained a decree issued in approximately 196 BC praising the accomplishments of the king. The unique aspect is that the inscription is in three languages: one known (ancient Greek), one lesser known (ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs), and one almost unknown (Egyptian demotic script). By the way, the stone came to the British Museum in 1802 after the defeat of Napoleon. (The Egyptian government has requested its return... I wouldn't hold my breath on that one!)

Scholars could use the language they knew best (Greek) to understand and translate the languages that were to that time, beyond their understanding. This opened-up a whole new opportunity for translating other ancient near-eastern texts. Which, by the way, has helped biblical scholars gain a better understanding of the world of the ancient Hebrews and the context of the development of the Old Testament scriptures.

I can't help but think that the idea of God, and even the Bible, is beyond the understanding of some of our friends and neighbors. What if our lives (the known) could serve as the Rosetta stone that could help them translate/understand the language of love that they don't yet understand?

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