Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Are You a Translator?

During the Armenian Orthodox Church year (in October), we remember the "Holy Translators Mesrop, Yeghishe, Moses the Poet, David the Philosopher, Gregory of Narek, and Nerses the Graceful".

These well-known saints are remembered on other days within the Church year, but this particular feast day remembers them specifically as translators (թարգմանչաց). Typically, we think of the Holy Translators as being Sts. Mesrop and Sahag due to their translation of the Bible into the Armenian language in the 5th century. But if translation, according to the Armenian Orthodox Church, simply refers to the practice of rendering something into another language, then why remember a mystic such as St. Gregory of Narek as a translator? What does it mean to translate according to the Armenian Orthodox tradition and way of thinking?

Translation can and does include the rendering of something into another language, but there is another level. Translation, as Armenians perceived it, is considered elucidation or the explaining of our faith through various mediums such as, prayers, hymns, poetry, philosophy, and even history. All of these, according to our Church, have been (and still can be) devotional practices of “translating” the Christian faith to and for the Armenian faithful. Translation, then, goes beyond the skill of finding equivalent words between languages. It is the impartation of Christ to His people; to those who will also become translators for His Church. How will we, today, translate the Gospel to others?

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