Mormon studies, translation, Bible passages
The opening act of Goethe’s epochal drama Faust is well known—the eponymous main character laments the effort he has spent seeking to uncover universal truth through science, philosophy, and even occult methods and their apparent failure. Less well known is a follow-up scene where Faust, declaring his “longing for revelation,” turns to another source for the transcendent knowledge he seeks, which, he declares, “nowhere . . . brighter burns than in the New Testament.” He also makes it clear that simply reading the book will not provide him the satisfaction he seeks, but instead he will exercise that most mystical method of conjuring meaning—translation. “I will take the holy original and render it in my beloved German” (presumably from the original Greek). He flips open his Bible and, whether by chance or design, lands at that most mystical of passages, John 1:1. Faust reads out the opening incantation: “In the beginning was the Word”—and halts, uneasy with the word “word” as a translation choice for the Greek logos. Seeking a more evocative possibility perhaps, he tries two more alternatives; first, “In the beginning was the Mind,” and then “In the beginning was the Power.” Still not satisfied, he ponders further and finally feels inspired to settle on “In the beginning was the Act.” This passage from Faust provides much of the metaphorical structure of the rest of Goethe’s great drama as he weaves between microcosm and macrocosm, developing the thematics of both chaos and creation.
Harris, Tod R.
""Taking a Different View of the Translation": The Illumination of Alternate Meanings in the Translation of Bible Passages by Joseph Smith and Meister Eckhart,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 54:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol54/iss2/5