On Jul 31, 2004, at 12:52 AM, Kumazuki wrote:

> So Peter, are you saying that to be a practicing Muslim you must be
> fluent
> in classic Arabic?
> Does that also mean that to be a religious Christian you must be able
> to
> understand the bible as it was written in Aramaic and Greek?
> I can only guess that if a religion is to thrive and conquer, as the
> Muslims
> and Christians have, it's message must be translated.

This is a point of theology and so doesn't haven't to make sense to
unbelievers, hence the analogy to transubstantiation (a rather apt one
IMHO). I assume that true believers in most major religions have funky
ways of seeing things that make no sense to people who aren't part of
the inner circle.

A *linguist* would call a translation of the Qu'ran a translation. An
orthodox Muslim wouldn't, since such a thing cannot exist. As a matter
of practical utility, "interpretations" of the Qu'ran into non-Arabic
are allowed, but it's understood that it's not the real thing and not
even an adequate substitute.

Christianity's attitude towards the New Testament is rather different,
particularly since the earliest Christians were highly dependent on a
translation of the Hebrew Tanakh, the Septuagint. Even so, the study
of Biblical Greek is quite popular among some branches of Christianity
(most especially Protestants), because any translation is at best an

(And, for the record, the Tanakh was originally in Hebrew except for a
couple of short stretches which are in Aramaic. The NT was originally
entirely in Greek, some of it very good and some of it frankly rather

John H. Jenkins