the BEGATS

I’m considering adding this to my unwritten list of potential band names. I keep this list despite the fact that I’m a more-than-amateur amateur musician. I think I just like to think about designing the t-shirt, which is old-school for “website.”

Of course, this is not my point at all with this blog post. What does it mean when my rabbit trails have rabbit trails and I’ve not even gotten the horse out of the stall, let alone onto the track?

There are a few passages in Scripture I’ve grown up referring to as “the begats” because in the King James Version, the word begat is used repeatedly in these passages which answer the question Who’s Your Daddy? One of the more well-known begat passages is found at beginning of Matthew’s Gospel.

If you asked me what portions of Scripture are absolutely critical for a person to hear/read in order for them to come to an understanding of some critical, foundational, basic truths about God, I would not likely include this passage. In my context — for people from my culture — I would be reasonable in this estimation.

In other places among other peoples, I couldn’t be more wrong.

In my world, I might need a proven genealogy in order to prove my qualification as a Daughter of the American Revolution or to get a federal scholarship based on ethnic heritage.  Oh, I’d need to prove pedigree if I want to do battle as a knight, too. (Or I could hire Geoffrey Chaucer to forge a pedigree…)  I’m sure there are other practical applications, but not many that have impacted me directly in my nearly half-century of life.

In some cultures, though, a genealogy is critical. The way a person proves his or her place in the society is by family relationships.

Beyond that, there are cultures in which the declaration of lineage precedes any story which is true. It is the cue that the story is, in fact, about real people and real events.

In such a culture I could tell a first person narrative, leave out the lineage at the beginning, and everyone would know that I was not telling the truth. This would not be considered deception, because everyone would know.

Imagine a Bible translation project in this language community which might start with the portions of Scripture which are more action oriented: Jesus feeding the 5,000 or healing the lame man, Jesus calming the storm or walking on water, Jesus casting out evil spirits or raising Lazarus from death back to life. These would be great works of fiction until Jesus’ lineage was translated and shared at the beginning of the story.

This is a great, though limited, example of why Bible translation relies on the good work of cultural anthropologists. I’m not sure I would have been good at it and I’m quite sure I’m where God designed me to be doing what He created me to do. Still, I sometimes imagine I would have loved cultural anthropology as a “career.”

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