To the editor:
When I read letters that pull into question religious citations, I wonder about too many things.
I ask if we are to consider possible intent, or just read the badly translated words from another era and language as a literal rendition.
Under the very best of situations, a translation always misses something. To be sensitive to all the nuances from each language requires that the translator be fully and equally conversant in both languages. Aramaic, other Hebrew dialects, various Greek dialects, at least one Latin presentation, and more than one rendition into English as it has changed over the centuries, is a pathway strewn with errors.
Letter writers Mr. Mahieu and Mr. Diamond (the Times, Friday, June 8) seem to be happy to cite chapter and verse from sentences here and there from a longish set of books, but do not appear to appreciate the whole context of the aggregate. It is a situation where both the "literalists" and the "interpreters" lose.
Each can and will, if unleashed, find passages to contradict the other. I do wonder if I and they have read the same set of books.
Until that trivial set of implied questions is answered, can we find ways to relieve our sisters and brothers of burdens they cannot overcome?
Until that trivial set of implied questions is answered, can we not find ways to prevent such burdens?
Once was it asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" What if the person who asked was the brother to be kept?
Without raising various issues from several Chinese and Indian classics that also consider morality and come from approximately the same time period, a couple of questions must be asked.
If they say they are right and you say you are right, how are we to know if any of you are right?
If any of you are right, why are we quibbling about this in a newspaper?