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Yesterday I got out my Spanish/English Bible, which I used for a little bit when I got back from studying abroad in Spain, but now just look at from time to time. I decided to try using it daily again. I read a sentence at a time in Spanish, try to translate it in my mind, and then read the English translation. If I can’t figure out the meaning of a certain word based on the translation, I’ll usually look it up. Because when you translate another language word-for-word, that string of English words is almost never the way you would actually say it in English, you know. I love it when I find that the Spanish translation seems better – because it is more powerful, or makes a clearer connection between thoughts, or adds a nuance in the meaning.

This morning I found this to be true with Hebrews 2:11, and here’s why:

In English: “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

The fact that the thought is split into two sentences makes the connection between the two sentences weaker, I think, than the Spanish translation.

In Spanish: “Tanto el que santifica como los que son santificados tienen un mismo origen, por lo cual Jesús no se avergüenza de llamarlos hermanos.”

The “tanto….como” conjunction (Tanto el que significa como) signifies “as much…..as”, as in, “just as much _____ as _____.” Moving to the second half of the sentence, “por lo cual” means “as a result” or “therefore.” With these phrases, the verse more literally translates:

“As much the one who sanctifies as those who are sanctified have the same origin, therefore Jesus is not ashamed of calling them brothers.”

I think this construction better conveys the meaning because it more clearly connects the thought that because we have the same origin as Christ, he is not ashamed to call us his family. This literal translation isn’t grammatically correct, though, so it has to be changed a little more for the English translation. I had to read the English version a couple times before the meaning sank in, but the use of “tanto…como”, and then “por lo cual” in the Spanish makes it obvious on first reading.

Do you agree? Has anyone else had this thought when translating from another language?

 
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