God as Translator

two quotations from Willis Barnstone The Poetics of Translation, pp 130-131

God created through the word. And what did God do with that word? With its utterance God translated divine sound into matter and being, thereby bringing the cosmos, the earth, and the earth’s inhabitants, great and small, into temporal existence. Since clock time did not exist before this act of cosmic creation, of transforming significant noise into time and space, clearly the first act of translation in the history of the profession occurred with those sacred Hebrew words y’hi or: “Let there be light.” And just as the pious know that ultimately our souls will, on the day of judgment, be translated back into heaven, so on that first day of creation God initiated and spoke the first sentence for the history of translation.

Willis Barnstone

In the beginning was the word and the word was translation, and with it God translated the heaven and the earth. But the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the word moved upon the face of the waters, translating the light from the darkness.

Pierre Grange, “God the Eternal Translator,” Dream Time and Other Earthly Signs


3 thoughts on “God as Translator

  1. Oh, Elliott, I love that Willis Barnstone quote! I’ve always been captivated by the fact that God spoke creation into existence and how that lends so much weight to language. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. One third of Barnstone’s book is about the history of the Bible as the history of (mainly hidden, covered-over) translation. It’s so brilliant but deep and complex that I can take in only a little bit at a time!

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