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spi spring 2002


  • pg 1

                                          Volume XVI, Spring 2006

                    Editorial Committee: Erland Brock, Leon Rhodes, Don Rose.
         Address: PO Box 717, Bryn Athyn, PA 19009, USA. Tel: 215.947.8922, Fax: 267.502.2658
                                 E-mail: erland.brock@verizon.net

                                                        from the Writings may help to attract and introduce
           EDITORIAL REMARKS                            Czech people to New Church ideas. To my surprise
                                                        I found out soon that people would prefer reading
In This Issue                                           original books to having any commented
                                                        selections. They wanted to see the very source to
A new department is included in this issue:
                                                        be able to make their own judgment, not to hear
“Translators’ Corner.” SPI has, since its inception,
                                                        ideas of somebody else about it—quite
supported translation, though secondarily to
                                                        understandable after forty years of being constantly
publication and distribution. However, it has
                                                        told what to think, and what and who to believe
become more involved in recent years, and we plan
                                                        too! This experience also contributed to my decision
on including Translators’ Corner from time to time.
                                                        to start translating the Writings.
The idea of including this derives from the late
                                                            I also realized a specific situation for the
Durban J. Odhner, who initiated and edited
                                                        willingness of Czech people to accept these new
“Translator’s Corner” for The New Philosophy.
                                                        ideas—a situation both promising as well as most
   We are delighted to have contributions from
                                                        challenging. The official statistics say that we are
Lenka Machova who has been translating the
                                                        the most atheistic country in Europe. Only about
Writings and collateral literature into Czech, and
                                                        one third of people profess any faith; violent
from Lisa Hyatt Cooper who has been translating
                                                        Catholic enforcement in the seventeenth century
the Writings for the Swedenborg Foundation’s
                                                        and consequent historical events probably
New Century Edition. Their articles give us, as it
                                                        contributed most to this “faithlessness” and
were, a view from within providing fascinating
                                                        skepticism of Czech people; and it was even
                                                        reinforced by the communist era with its
   In News Report, Göran Appelgren tells us about
                                                        indoctrination. Czech people are generally opposed
his recent visit to the Dnepropetrovsk Swedenborg
                                                        to any organized religion, they don’t attend
Society (DSS). Of special interest is his account (1)
                                                        churches, and what’s more, they refuse anything
of the translating work of Stepan Kreta who has
                                                        resembling a traditional church even in expressions
translated several works into Ukrainian, and (2)
                                                        and vocabulary. You know what a challenge it is in
of the presentation of a gift from the London
                                                        terms of Swedenborg’s Writings full of traditional
Swedenborg Society to the DSS.
                                                        Christian vocabulary. Challenge, but an
   A financial statement for 2005 is at the end of
                                                        opportunity at the same time because of the other
this issue.
                                                        side of the coin in respect to a Czech nature. Even
                                                        though “irreligious,” they are often at the same time
                                                        spiritually seeking, wanting to understand things
         TRANSLATORS’ CORNER                            for themselves, refusing any blind faith, hating
                                                        hypocrisy in religious matters. Does it resemble
          Challenges in Translation                     something? So I have been asking myself whether
                By Lenka Machova
                                                        at this stage of the old church’s destruction, perhaps
When I started with translations some nine years        a little more advanced in my country than
ago, I began with compiling two quotation books,        elsewhere, may not be the necessary condition
believing that presenting most striking statements      before a new dawn will eventually start to emerge?
                                               SPI Spring 2006

    The biggest current problem, however, is—and            possibilities of more up-to-date formulations. Very
now I am getting to my translation work—how not             helpful, too, is a clever Latin-English electronic
to put people off right from the start because of           dictionary I found for my MacIntosh on the
the traditional vocabulary, terms people refuse to          Internet: by typing a Latin word I see immediately
hear (even such terms as a “church” or even the             its basic form, basic grammatical information and
most holy name for us, the Lord, sounds repulsive           translations; and of course I need a good Latin-
for most Czechs). When I wrote my little book               Czech dictionary. All these resources help me to
explaining New Church ideas and showed it to                get the best possible grasp of the meaning that
some friends, they advised me to change terms I             needs to be conveyed into my native language.
was using there: to use “spirituality” instead of               I suppose that I meet quite similar challenges
“religion,” to avoid completely the term “true              as other translators do in this process. One of them
Christianity” and like expressions as having too            is a well-known problem of term consistency
negative connotations.                                      versus modern and well-readable translations. I
    However, I have reached a different conclusion          think that my approach accords again with the one
and as time passes I am still more convinced about          widely adopted by other translators: where
it. Obviously there is not much space to change             possible, I am consistent in translating “technical
the style of the Writings, as they are written in a         terms.” The Czech language is usually able to
traditional Christian language and for most people          provide a close-in-meaning term for each Latin
in a rather austere style, and I believe there must         word: e.g. in the Divine Providence I am translating
be a good reason for it. But even in my own text I          now, Swedenborg uses repeatedly the terms with
wouldn’t try so much to “hide” these expressions            overlapping meanings such as ratio, rationalitas,
and replace them by more universal ones. Instead            intellectus. Having a Czech expression for each of
of this I try to explain new meanings Swedenborg            them, I think they shouldn’t be interchanged
gives to these traditional terms. I cannot and don’t        arbitrarily. There are, however, other cases without
want to avoid the word “religion” by using                  clear corresponding terms in Czech or the ones that
“spirituality” because this is all about the religion       would better be translated variously depending on
– but I need to say that it is not the religion they        the context. In such cases I usually use notes to
have in mind when they hear the word, but a                 explain my translation approach to the term. Where
meaningful religion they may think about by                 possible I try to use the specific feature of the Czech
reading these works. I need to comment on the               language, its extensive vocabulary. While one
terms “heaven” and “hell” as having very little in          English word can express a large number of
common with the traditional notions, and so on.             different meanings, it is the other way round in
To help the reader to realize this fundamental fact         Czech: one meaning can be expressed in many
about the new meanings, I therefore give                    different ways. I also use explanatory notes for all
explanations in prefaces and notes. This approach           unusual terms or when I want to point out a new
is, I believe, consistent with the approach of other        meaning, as I already mentioned.
contemporary translators of the Writings who also               To sum up, I think that I am dealing with similar
use many notes and comments. Particularly the               problems that other translators encounter in other
New Century Edition works have been a very useful           languages, even though the situation as to the
inspiration and help for my work.                           reception of the Writings may be sharper here
    I should say at this moment that I have been            because of the overall religious situation. Because
translating from Latin using also several English           of the more advanced “old church destruction” it
translations. I find the knowledge Latin (even              has become quite clear to me that the Writings—
though only on a basic level) the most beneficial           with its style and vocabulary—are and will be a
for this work. The structure of the Latin language          challenge for people, except for those who are
is very similar to the Czech one (e.g. both having          willing to read them with “innocent” eyes. I believe
declensions) which enables me to follow a stylistic         that our work as translators is to do the best in
pattern of Latin sentences very closely instead of          searching how to produce both well-readable and
going round to English and back. With the level of          faithful translations, and everything else rests on
the knowledge I have, I need to use also English            the very true Author Himself.
translations, usually a classical one to see more
literal translation and a contemporary one to see

                                                 SPI Spring 2006

   Challenges in the Translating Process                       “child.” Rex means “king” but can also mean
   Gender in Translation of Swedenborg                         “monarch.”
               By Lisa Hyatt Cooper                               The rule laid down for the translation I am
                                                               working on is that where Swedenborg is gender-
For the last eight years I have been translating               specific, the translation will be gender-specific, and
Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia into English for the             where Swedenborg is gender-inclusive, the
Swedenborg Foundation’s New Century Edition.                   translation will be gender-inclusive. The real
It is work that I absolutely love, but difficulties do         problem, though, is that in many places what
arise, and one is very much present in my mind                 Swedenborg says is neither gender-specific nor
currently. That is the problem of translating for an           gender-inclusive but something halfway
audience much more conscious of gender than the                between—what I might call gender-implicit. The
audience for which the original was written. Let               difficulty is translating without distortion for an
me explain.                                                    audience for whom gender is not implicit.
    In the 1970s there was a riddle concerning the                I have asserted that in the pre-1980 US, the
victim of a car accident who arrives at the hospital           assumption was that doctors were male. Does this
emergency room unconscious. The surgeon on                     mean that we could take documents from that era
duty takes a look at the patient and says, “I can’t            containing the word “doctor” and substitute “male
operate on him; he’s my son.” But the doctor is not            doctor” for modern audiences? No, it does not. To
the patient’s father. How can this be? The answer,             do so would be a distortion. Authors using the
of course, is that the doctor is the patient’s mother,         word at that time did not intend it to mean a male
but at the time I first heard the riddle, this solution        doctor; they were using it without regard to gender,
was not at all obvious. Most of us—including a                 even if they were picturing a man. The assumption
feminist friend of mine who was also stumped—                  about gender was present but was also
pictured the doctor as a man without thinking                  unconscious.
about it. In the US in the 70s, there would have                  Genesis 33 is the story of Jacob’s reconciliation
been few who would have said that doctors have                 with Esau. In verse 1 Jacob lifts his eyes to see Esau
to be male, but there would also have been few to              approaching and divides his children up among
raise their eyebrows at, say, an article on the stresses       their mothers—Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah.
of being a doctor that talked about the effect on              At this point in the story the text has told us of the
doctors’ wives. The assumption was that doctors                birth of twelve children to Jacob, eleven sons and
(and most other professionals) were men, but we                one daughter, the daughter being Leah’s. The word
were only just beginning to take notice of the fact.           for children here, in both the original Hebrew and
    Swedenborg’s world was also one of                         Swedenborg’s Latin translation, literally means
assumptions about gender. I get the strong                     “born ones.” Like the words I mention above, both
impression in reading his works that there are                 the Hebrew word and the Latin word (the Latin
places where he is thinking of men as he writes,               word is nati) can be either masculine (“sons”) or
but not in a conscious way. He is just picturing men           gender-neutral (“children”). My first assumption
automatically, as listeners to the riddle did. If you          was that it must refer to all the children, because
asked him whether the things he says in those                  surely Jacob would have wanted to protect his
places apply to women too, the answer, I suspect,              daughter Dinah as much as his sons. But in AC
would vary.                                                    4342 Swedenborg says that Leah’s nati symbolize
    “Doctor” is a gender-neutral word, and in the              truth, and in the context of AC this suggests that
hypothetical article I mentioned above, the word               they are male. Swedenborg also refers the reader
spouses could be substituted for wives to make the             to several earlier passages (to confirm the
piece acceptable to a modern American audience.                symbolism) which more clearly imply that sons are
But take a word that is at once masculine and                  what symbolize truth. So do I translate the word
gender-neutral, such as man. It has for centuries              as “sons” and leave the reader to wonder what
been the word for the male of the species, but until           provision was made for Dinah, or do I translate it
recently it could also mean a human being of either            as “children” and leave the reader to wonder about
gender. Latin has many words of this type. Pater               the discrepancy with the confirmatory passages?
means “father,” but occasionally it can mean                   More to the point, where did Swedenborg think
“parent.” Filius means “son” but can also mean                 Dinah figured in the picture? My sense is that this

                                                  SPI Spring 2006

question is irrelevant to the text (in both the Bible           given about key New Church doctrines. A positive
and Swedenborg’s exposition), but I cannot stop                 development is that a group from Pavlograd has
the modern reader from asking it. No matter which               expressed a sincere wish to follow New Church
way I translate the word, I introduce a distortion.             teachings.
   But this difficulty is simply one instance of the               The Swedenborg Society in London wanted to
basic task of translation, which is to transfer                 celebrate the establishment of the centre in
between one culture and another. What I have                    Dnepropetrovsk by giving a very nice gift, a
called distortion is the loss of what was and the               manuscript in a meticulous hand writing from the
addition of what now is. I cannot take my reader                second half of the nineteenth century of a
very far into the mindset of centuries ago and                  translation of The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem
thousands of miles away, but my prayer is that if I             Concerning Faith. It was received with the utmost
go as far as I can in attempting it, the result will            enthusiasm.
have virtues of its own to compensate.                             On Sunday I held a worship service that was
                                                                very well received. It is obvious that the presence
                 NEWS REPORT                                    of the sphere of worship is wanted and
          News from Dneporpetrovsk                                 A little over thirty people gathered for the
           Meeting 20-21 May, 2006                              weekend, some from far distant places.
                By Göran Appelgren
                                                                                    SPI STATEMENT
Present at the meeting was a man from the Western
part of the Ukraine, Stepan Kreta, who has in less                          Income & Expenditure 2005
than two years translated from Russian to
Ukrainian the following works:                                          USA account held by the Swedenborg
                                                                               Scientific Association
The Doctrine of Charity (from the Dnepropetrovsk
Russian translation)                                            INCOME (USD)
The Doctrine of Charity and Faith (from the
Dnepropetrovsk Russian translation)                             Balance December 31, 2004                 829.54
Ten Commandments (from the Maliavin Russian                     Dues & contributions1                  13,800.56
                                                                Total                                  14,630.10
The Internal Sense of the Word (from the Maliavin Russian
translation)                                                    EXPENDITURE
The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine (from the           Internet & telephone                       86.73
Edomsky Russian translation)                                    Newsletters (print & post)                868.37
Heaven and Hell (from the Aksakov Russian translation)          Books                                      13.73
                                                                Banking fees                               65.00
   Mr. Kreta came to the gathering we had in
                                                                Newsletter (format)                       110.00
Dnepropetrovsk in May of 2004; he was then
                                                                CUCIS2                                  3,900.00
already familiar with Swedenborg. The two titles
                                                                CSS3                                    2,100.00
mentioned first in the list have been published in
                                                                DSS4                                    2,695.00
Lviv by Rev. Alexander Vasiliev in a small quantity.
Mr. Kreta is now looking for a wider distribution               Total                                   9,838.83
of all of the titles. During my visit we had                    Balance December 2005                   4,791.275
discussions about different options.
   At the start of our meetings, we introduced                  1. Includes institutional grants from the Swedenborg Society, London,
                                                                and the Swedenborg Foundation, West Chester, PA. In addition, the
ourselves at some length. All of Saturday was                   London SPI account receives generous gifts from SPI members in
devoted to discussions about recent events: the                 Britain.
                                                                2. Grants to the Committee for the Uses of the Commonwealth of
inauguration of the Dnepropetrovsk Swedenborg                   Independent States were disbursed to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and
Society in December 2005; the meeting for                       Moscow, Russia.
                                                                3. Czech Swedenborg Society
European lay people in Stockholm in January of                  4. Dnepropetrovsk Swedenborg Society
this year; the web site, and other matters. This was            5. This excess of income over expenditure has enabled SPI to provide
                                                                grants for new projects in 2006.
followed by discussion of a presentation I had

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