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Katan, David (2003) Fidelity and Translation: Communicating the Bible in New Media The

Translator Special Issue: Screen Translation. (vol. 9:2, pp. 346-350). Guest Editor: Yves Gambier.
Fidelity and Translation: Communicating the Bible in New Media
edited by Paul A. Souku! S.". and #obert $odgson
This collection o% essays! though mainly taken %rom a con%erence! reads &ery much
like a well'organised book. The %ocus is on the translation issues in&ol&ed in
adating the Bible %or &ideo()*) and C)'#om. The con%erence was held in +,,-
and was the .
nd
symosium on %aith%ulness organised between the American Bible
Association /ABS0 and the 1nited Bible Societies /1BS0. *ideo is considered 2new
media3 %or the ABS due to Association4s relati&ely recent &entures into the word o%
%ilm. These %ilms are re%erred to and analysed %re5uently throughout this &olume! as
are actual and ossible new &entures using the &isual and aural ossibilities o% C)
#6Ms.
The &olume oens with a re&iously ublished article by 7uan Mc8. Fry! a
translation consultant %or the ABS. To a large e9tent! the rest o% the collection is a
rely to his 5uestion: how to maintain %aith%ulness to the original te9t when
translating into a non'rint medium! i.e. what are the threats /though some in this
&olume see oortunities0 to the authority o% the :ord o% 8od when the word in te9t
is trans%ormed into sounds and(or images.
Fry stresses that his &iew o% the 1BS translation ersonnel should not be seen as
24censors4 waiting to kill good and creati&e ideas but as ;guides4 seeking to assist in
the working out o% the ideas in a way that is %aith%ul to the Bible! and to the biblical
and their messages3 /.<0. :e do not need to read between the lines to ercei&e that
new media e5uals new danger! and that his guidelines are an e9ercise in damage
limitation.
Nida! on the other hand /hal%way through the &olume0 is enthusiastic about new
media! artly because! as many in this &olume note! churches ha&e always been
in&ol&ed in a &ariety o% media to reresent the bible: singing! dancing! reading!
ainting! and e&en drinking. Nida also roduces a list o% guidelines! but this time
linked to a criticism o% the ABS &ideos and C). $is guidelines centre on the need %or
immediate reader accessibility /a key concet in this &olume0 to the :ord o% 8od= the
narrator and actors /role! &oice0! and the sulementary in%ormation that can be added
to C)s and so. $is conclusions are consistent with his ast &iews: that sensiti&ity to
the cultural conte9t is aramount! and must be taken into account when considering
%idelity.
:erner resonds directly to Fry4s article and takes Nida4s classic %unctional
e5ui&alence as his guide to assessing %idelity in the &ideos. $e contends Fry4s
argument that &ideo will always be a secondary art and that new media translations
cannot demonstrate %idelity. $e %ocuses on ;midrash4! 2a dialogue with a biblical
te9t3 /+->0. $e e9lains that one engages in midrash when 2reinterreting the
recei&ed biblical tradition %or the bene%it o% ? contemories3 /+-<0. :erner 5uotes
Bloch! who suggests that the e9lanation! reinterretation or adatation o% the :ord
should 2remain open to all understandings of the message, all legitimate adaptations
and all new situations. So! ;accuracy4 in new media translation! in his &iew!
describes the care taken in translating while ;%idelity4 re%ers to 3the continuity o%
resonse3 /+-@0. $e in&estigates the tone and itch atterns o% the Aord4s Prayer in
8reek! Aatin and in 7nglish showing how the musical arameters rein%orce the
language. The reader will need to read music to %ully %ollow :erner4s arguments. For
e9amle! he actually gi&es us instructions! such as 2Now! sing the moBarabic pater
noster! rinted at the beginning o% this section.3
Particularly re%reshing are the descriti&e accounts gi&en by those in&ol&ed in making
the %ilms. $agedorn! chie% consultant o% the ABS Multimedia Translation Program!
gi&es us a %ascinating case study o% the ain%ul rocess o% creating a short %ilm o% one
o% the arables. The interest in his article lies mainly in hi descrition o% the roblems
o% artnershi between the ABS and the %ilm industry. The ABS! as he e9lains! needs
to rotect itsel% against 2schlock ' i.e. biblical %ilms and so%tware with no integrity3!
whereas the commercial needs o% %ilm roduction itsel% re5uire %le9ibility regarding
the scrit! in the use actors! location and so on due to %inancial and roduction
constraints.
$agedorn4s main issue! though! 2when is a %ilm a translation and when is it an
adatation3 seems laboured. C! ersonally! would ha&e thought that Christ ortrayed
as a resent'day welder is an adatation! not a translation. 7nd o% story. Sisley!
though! /much later in the &olume0 takes u the ;dilemma4 again! and agrees with
$agedorn that adatation is translation.
:orth is a %ilm and tele&ision director and gi&es us a &i&id %irst'hand account o% the
making o% biblical story &ideos %or the ABS! but this time %rom the oint o% &iew o%
the director. She dwells on the imortance o% emotion and %eelings! and! in articular!
how she imagined the music to one o% the arables.
2Access3 is a key word in this &olume. $agedorn! in %act! concludes by stating that
2new media3 means allowing more 2millions3 /D>0 to access the :ord o% 8od. #owe
o%%ers real insight into gatekeeing ower and the transmission o% in%ormation
beginning %rom the age o% the book through to ;narrowcasting4 and ersonal
emowerment o% ;ersonal tele&ision4! internet and the like. Fidelity! according to
#owe! can be decided by the emowered &iewer. #owe! here! is not Eust oen to
change and new media ' he is re&olution itsel%. Though he does not use the word! he
%ocuses most on harnessing the limitness oortunities o% hyerte9ting an electronic
bible with audio! &isual! chat! and a host o% other links.
Baker4s contribution is the only contribution to look at the ABS4s 2attemt3 to
de&elo translation e9ercises seci%ically %or C) #om. Though she a criticises a
number o% the somewhat mindless translation e9ercises she does accet that the
society was working in a &acuum. She also gi&es e9amles showing how other
materials ha&e been de&eloed! suggesting that this is the way %orward %or the ABS
too.
Part . o% this &olume %ocuses on deconstructing te9ts and ro&ides %ascinating
insights into meanings which rint cannot do Eustice to. Scott suggests that the greek
bible had to be sounded out loud to create %ull meaning. Ct then 2aints a icture that
no silent transation in rint can cature3. $is analysis o% the 8reek is as ainstaking
as it is con&incing. Scott calls %or a &ari'media translation /+++0! ointing out /as do
others in this &olume0 that the bible was originally a multimedia e9erience!
er%ormed in ublic by secialists. The in&ention o% the 8utenberg ress! he claims!
constrained meaning inside the rinted age! and relegated interretation to silent
ri&ate reading. Technology is now at hand to e9loit! what he calls! the original
sound mas! and we can now once again hear the :ord o% 8od as originally
intended..
8oethals continues the e9loration o% 2wholeness o% image and word ? in traditional
religious %orms3 /+F>0. $is DG'age contribution is by %ar the longest! and chronicles
the use o% images and their role in the communication o% religious meaning. $e
begins with archaeological e&idence %rom catacomb and crytic art taking us %inally
to the beauti%ully illustrated )anish children4s Bible! ublished in +,,>. Along the
way he in&estigates +,
th
century American Protestantism and the tension between
utilitarianism and art in religion. This chater is relete with care%ully analysed
illustrations. $e concludes by suggesting that the role o% art in religion! cultural
settings and 5uestions o% %idelity should be discussed by 2translators! religious book
ublishers! manu%acturers o% religious arte%acts! church leaders! theologians! and
artists3 /+-G0.
Part F is o% articular interest %or translators. Sisley uses semiotics and genre analysis
to discuss two basic oints: 2the authorial ower that underins Bible Societies4
translations3 /.G-0! and interretati&e authority. She concludes that translations /read
adatations0 encourage 24un%aith%ul4 interretations and generate a new te9t(reader
relationshi3. This contribution directly con%ronts what is tacitly imlicit throughout
this &olume: the imortant moti&ational di%%erences between the general and the bible
translation scholar! between religious associations and commercial ublishing houses
and! o% course! between lay readers and those who regard the :ord o% 8od as
sacrosanct. She ends with the unsettling 5uestion 2how do the %aith%ul ;know 8od3
/.+-0 i% the written :ord is no longer centralH
Souku continues with %our di%%erent communication models alied to multimedia
translation! beginning with the traditional transortation model /oularised by Nida0
and the semiotic model. The third model is 2communication as ritual3! and is
articularly rele&ant not only to Bible translation but also more generally to current
debates regarding ower relations! ideologies and centrality o% te9ts within translation
studies. $e 5uotes Carey widely! who states that communication is about the
2construction and maintenance o% an ordered! meaning%ul cultural world3 /..<0.
;News4! %or e9amle! is nothing but a 2situation in which nothing new is learned but
in which a articular &iew o% the world is ortrayed and con%irmed3 /ibid0. This &iew
means that audience recognition is aramount I more than the centrality o% the
original or translated te9t. The logical conclusion then is that 2the 5uestion o% %idelity
ultimately becomes one o% accetance by the belie&ing community3 /.F+0.
The two %inal contributions %ocus on semiotics. $odgson ro&ides an e9cellent
introduction to the disciline! e&en telling us how to ronounce Pierce. $odgson then
alies icons! indices and signs to what is imlicit in the original te9t to e&aluate
%idelity in the new media translation. $is e9amles include biblical comics and the
ABS &ideo translations re&iously mentioned. Stecconi! on the other hand! is more
theoretical ' 2ractical e9amles do not abound3 /.<G0 in his aer. $is is certainly a
more comle9 introduction both to semiotics and to its use in translation. Also! unlike
all the other contributions! the :ord o% 8od is not an issue here. The article is clearly
rele&ant to translation studies in general! raising a number o% interesting 5uestions!
such as 2:hy are translations so much more unstable than originalsH3 /.>G0. 6n
%idelity! Stecconi returns to the 2almost taboo3 /.>F0 subEect in Translation Studies o%
;e5ui&alence4. $is conclusion is a comlete change o% %ocus %rom Carey4s %ocus on
the reader! or rather the ;belie&ing community4. For Stecconi! e5ui&alence occurs
largely because the translator makes it so! 2using in%erences o% the abducti&e kind3
/.>,0.
All in all the &olume is a rich source o% %acts ideas and oinions regarding %idelity n
Bible translation and the changes /oortunities and threats0 engendered by the
changes in roduction: %rom oral! through the in&ention o% chea rinting to the
seemingly limitless horiBons o%%ered by non'rint digital &isual and aural
ossibilities. :ithout a doubt ;non'belie&ing commuities4 o% translation scholars will
also %ind the book e9tremely stimulating.