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Mythmaking Abraham's Sacrifice (Gen. 22:1-13)

If you are not familiar with the story, in the Hebrew Bible (in Genesis 22:1 to 22:13) there is the story of the patriarch Abraham, who God asks to offer up his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God. The Binding of Isaac - or the Akedah - as the story is called, has all kinds of fanciful theosophical or religious interpretations, but in essence it is usually interpreted to show how Abraham demonstrates complete faith and total obedience to the Divine command which is asked of him. In the end, though, another sacrifice - a ram - is provided as a substitute, a "scapegoat" instead of Isaac, and therefore Abraham's son survives nearly being killed by his murderous father.

 Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio (c. 1603)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sacrifice_of_Isaac-Caravaggio_%28Uffizi%29.jpg
 
Let's "mythmake" (for a full explanation just read my Literary Mythmaking article) this story to see what happens... And it does not matter in the least that the Biblical story has most certainly attained a mythic status already. Although, before beginning this literary experiment, below a simplified version of the story is provided for those of you who aren't familiar with the particular passage - as found in the English New American Standard Bible (Gen. 22:1 to 22:13):

1 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
2 He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4 On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
5 Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you."
6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.
7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
12 He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.

Ok so now I can begin my experimentation. For no particular other reason than to suit my own fancy, the languages that I have chosen to make travel or warp the Binding of Isaac text are the following: English > Gujurati > Kannada > Marathi > English > French > Hebrew > German > English. I translate the text, from language to language, copy pasting the results from each new translation, on and on I go inputting the linguistic data into the ever so handy dandy free online Google Translate multilingual translation service. And also, just because I was curious to see how the Kannada version translated into English, I included this too as an added ingredient in my final results. The same goes for the Marathi which I also ended up translating into English to see what (non)sense was to come of it. In addition, just because this technique is a little addictive, I've even traveled the Marathi > Hebrew > English, and this was for the sheer excitement of seeing the end results (I know, wonderfully weird how some people get their kicks). Ah, and now let's take a look at what I've got. The goal here is to see if I can recreate a new text that has somewhat been warped as it has been made to virtually travel from one cultural zone to another - and to see if the text has given in to the pressures of this artificial cultural transformation that I have submitted it to.

If you're like me and you can appreciate the history behind these scripts, as I work on mythmaking my text I find that the writing systems used to represent many of these languages are enough to make one admire the beauty of this experiment - and, of course, to appreciate the genius of Google Translate (even if it is far from being anything close to perfect).

Here below is what I've got to work with... I'll copy here for convenience's sake our warped translations to see what interesting distortions we can use to recreate a more interesting version:




From Kannada to English:


1. Now that God tested Abraham came, and said to him, after these issues, "Abraham!" And "Here I am." Said
2. He said, "Now that your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land Moriah, where I can say that the mountains have to offer them a burnt offering." He said the
3. So Abraham rose early morning and a donkey saddled, and his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and two burnt offerings to the tree split, and arose and went to the place God had told them.
4. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and kalpisikottaru remote location.
5. Abraham "Stay here on a donkey, and I and the lad will go there, and we will worship and return to you.", Said to his young men,
6. Abraham took the wood burnt offering, and Isaac his son on the attack, and he took the fire and the knife in his hand. So the two of them walked on together.
7. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, "My father!" He said, "I am here, I have my son." He said, and he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where the burnt offerings of the Lamb?", Said
8. Abraham, "The Lord himself burnt offering, my son, for the sheep.", He said, so the two of them walked on together.
9. And Abraham built the altar there is a God, he was a wooden structure, and bound Isaac his son, and said she would come to this place, and on the tree, and laid on the altar.
10. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.
11. But the Angel of God, "Abraham, Abraham!" He said that to heaven, and said, "Here I am." Said
12. "Stretch out your hand against the lad, and now I know that you fear God, because there is nothing, you have me as your son, your only son, that has not stopped." Said
13. Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold behind him, in a thicket by his horns caught in RAM and RAM, and Abraham went and took them to lunch instead of his son as a burnt offering.


From Marathi to English:


1. God tested Abraham, and the problem is, the longer he said, "Abraham!" And "Here I am." Said
2. He said, "Your son, your mulanam, which you love, Isaac, and I can tell you where the mountains are the only Pruning offer Moriah, be." It
3. Abraham vadharala the early morning and a donkey saddled, and his young men, and Isaac his son, and the offering of the tree split, and arose, and went to God and said the.
4. The third day Abraham and his eyes kalpisikottaru to have a remote location.
5. Abraham "Stay here a donkey, and I will be there and so much, and we worship, and you will." The young man said,
6. Pruning is only wood Abraham, Isaac, and attack on a child, and in the hands of the fire and the knife was. The two together on God.
7. Isaac Abraham his father, and said, "My father!" He said, "I am here, I have a son." He said, and he, "refer to the wood fire and the offering of the Lamb? Brothel said,"
8. Abraham, "The Lord only for sheep Pruning, my son.", God said to them two together.
9. Abraham and the God of a wooden structure with a, and bound Isaac his son, and she is at, and built a tree on the altar, and put on the altar.
10. Abraham stretched out his hands and took the knife to kill his son.
11. But an angel of God, "Abraham, Abraham!" So to heaven, and said, "Here I am." Said
12. "There's no reason, Ladd stretch your hands, and now I fear I do not know, your son, you did not stop at the mulanam, as I have." Said
13. To have his eyes and saw Abraham a, c and RAM and RAM in the thicket by its horns, the back one, and Abraham went and took a lunch instead of just Pruning as a child.



From German to English:


First. God put Abraham to the test, and the problem, he added, "Abraham" and "Here I am." say
Two. He said: "My son, mulanam you love, Isaac, and I can tell you where the mountains are only trimming offers teachers, as" it.
Three.
4th. Third day Abraham his eyes kalpisikottaru a remote location.
Five. Abraham "be serious here, and I'll be there and so, and we love, and you'll make it." Said the young man,
Six. Pruning of trees is only Abraham, Isaac and grab the child, and in the hands of the fire and the knife. Two together about God.
Seven. Isaac Abraham his father and said: "My father," he said, "I'm here, I have a son," he said, "and see the fire victims and Ramp brothel said!.?"
Eight. Abraham: "God is pruning sheep, my son," said God both ..
Nine. Abraham, the God of the wood construction, and bound Isaac his son, and she is, and builds a tree on the altar, and put on the altar.
10th. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11th. But an angel of God, "Abraham, Abraham!" How to heaven and said, "Here I am." say
12th. "There is no reason Vlad stretch their hands, and now I'm afraid that I do not know your son, am, you should not stop at mulanam how he did it." say
13th. Eyes and saw Abraham, C and RAM and RAM thicket by its horns once again, and Abraham went and take a meal instead of just cutting a child.


And like I mentioned earlier, I played around with Marathi to Hebrew then back to English:


First. God tested Abraham, and the problem is that as it is said, "Abraham!" And "Here I am." Saying
Two. He said, "Your son, your mulanam, you love, Isaac, and I can tell you where the mountains are proposed pruning teachers only, to be."
This
Three. Abraham vadharala my day early morning and severely bandaged, and his young men, and Isaac his son, and the proposal of splitting the wood, and arose, and went to God and said.
Four. The third day Abraham his eyes and to have kalpisikottaru remote location.
Five. Abraham "remain serious here, and I'll be there and so many, and we worship, and you do it." The young man said,
Six. Tree pruning is only Abraham, Isaac, and an attack on a child, and in the hands of the fire and the knife. Two together about God.
Seven. Isaac Abraham his father, and said, "My father!" He said, "I'm here, I have a son." He said, and he "refers to wood fire and the offering of the Lamb? Prostitutes said,"
Eight. Abraham, God said, "The only pruning sheep, my son." Them two together.
Nine. Abraham and the God of the wooden structure, and bound Isaac his son, and she is in, and built wood on the altar, and put on the altar.
10th. Abraham reached out and took the knife to slay his son.
11th. But an angel of God, "Abraham, Abraham!" So to heaven, and said, "Here I am." Saying
12th. "There is no reason, by Vlad stretch your, and now I'm afraid I do not know, your son, you did not stop at mulanam, as I have." Saying
13th. To get up and saw Abraham, C and RAM and RAM thicket by its horns, back once, and Abraham go take lunch instead of just pruning a child.



 Some of the distortions that occur, interestingly, are not unlike some of the techniques James Joyce employed during the composition of his Finnegans Wake. For various reasons, as the text traveled from one cultural zone to another, some words or expressions got lost in translation as the expression goes. And in the end, we get in the Marathi > English text a beautiful distortion like in 2. He said, "Your son, your mulanam, which you love, Isaac..." and also in 4. The third day Abraham and his eyes kalpisikottaru to have a remote location.What do I do with these results, with these distortions? Well, here is where one can use a good dose of creativity to "James Joyce it up" as it were, in recreating a final version composed of these interesting strands. All this just because I want to see what comes of it. (What can I say, I'm curious by nature.) 

I take a line here... a line there... Add a period. Splice a sentence down the middle, and hey why not keep two different translations and put them side by side and... Voilà! I'm done. Here what I get in the end... 

This is my mythmaker version:
1. God put Abraham to the test, and the problem is that as it is said, “Abraham! Here I am."  
2. He said, "Your son, your mulanam, which you love, Isaac, and I can tell you where the mountains are the only Pruning offer Moriah, be."  
3. Abraham vadharala my day early morning and severely bandaged, and his young men, and Isaac his son, and the offering of the tree split, and arose, and went to God.  
4. The third day Abraham raised his eyes to have kalpisikottaru remote location.
5. Abraham "Remain serious here, and I’ll be there and so many, and we worship, and you do it,” the young man said.  
6. Pruning is only wood Abraham, Isaac, and attack on a child, and in the hands of the fire and the knife. Two together about God.  
7. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father. "My father!" he said. "I am here, I have my son." And he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where the burnt offerings of the Lamb? Prostitutes said."  
8. “Abraham, the Lord only for sheep Pruning, my son." God said to them two together.  "The Lord himself burnt offering, my son, for the sheep," he said, so the two of them walked on together.
9. And Abraham built the altar there is a God of the wooden structure, and bound Isaac his son, and said she would come to this place, and on the tree, and laid on the altar.
10. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11. But the Angel of God, "Abraham, Abraham!" How to heaven and said, "Here I am."  
12. "There is no reason, by Vlad stretch your hands, and now I'm afraid that I do not know, your son, you did not stop at mulanam, as I have.”
13. Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold behind him, in a thicket by his horns caught in RAM and RAM thicket by its horns, back once, and Abraham go take lunch instead of just pruning a child.

But the fun doesn't stop here... Curiosity gets the best of me when I copy my mythmaker version and translate it into Haitian Creole and back into English. Here's what I get:

1. God put Abraham to the test, and the problem is that as it is said, "Abraham: Here I am."
2. He said, "Your son, mulanam you, which you love, Isaac, and I can tell you where the mountains of Moriah Cut only offer, be."
3. Abraham vadharala early morning and I seriously erect, with his servants, and Isaac his son, and offered to the Lord divided into trees, and arose, and went to God.
4. Third day Abraham lifted up his eyes have kalpisikottaru remote location.
5. Abraham "serious Stay here, and I will be with for many, and we worship, and you do it," the young man said.
6. Cut only wood Abraham, Isaac and assault on a child, and in the hands of the fire and the knife. Two together on God.
7. Isaac spoke to Abraham his father are. "My father!" he says. "I am here, I have my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where offerings were made ​​by prostitutes to Lamb? Said."
8. "Abraham, the Lord only for Cutting sheep, goats, my child." God told them two together. "Lord himself burnt offering, my son, to lamb," he said, so the two of them went together.
9. And Abraham built an altar there is a God in the wooden structure, bound Isaac his son, he said he would come to this place, and on the tree, and laid on the altar.
10. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son servants.
11. And the angel of God, "Abraham!" How in heaven, he said: "Here I am."
12. "There is no reason, no Vlad stretch your hands, and now I'm afraid that I do not know, son, you did not stop at mulanam, as I have."
13. Then, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold behind him, in a thicket by his horns caught in the thicket by his horns RAM and RAM back once, and he went to take lunch instead of just cut a child.
The final Hatian Creole backtranslation seems to smooth out the wrinkles in my mythmaker version. Moreover, the text has become more sexual in nature it seems, like in 3. Abraham vadharala early morning and I seriously erect, with his servants, and Isaac his son... In line 7. ...Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where offerings were made ​​by prostitutes to Lamb? Erections and prostitutes have somehow made it into the story - and there's even a guy named Vlad in there? (Look at 12. "There is no reason, no Vlad stretch your hands, and now I'm afraid that I do not know, son, you did not stop at mulanam, as I have.") Interesting to backtrack and see which language Vlad gets written into the storyline. Incidentally I do see how it happened, "and the boy" became somewhere along the way "and the lad", but the Hebrew did not translate "lad" but only added the prefixal consonantal letter vav - basically v/u, which merely means "and" - in front of "lad", thus a distorted "v-lad" (that would mean in "and the lad" in Hebrew) got lost in translation and became capitalized to Vlad. Interesting. Maybe, just maybe Vlad - if I try to make sense of the Haitian Creole text - perhaps Vlad is one of Isaac's servants. You ask which servants? Well, they appear in line 10. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son servants. At this point it looks like the ram is no longer needed to take Isaac's place if Vlad his servant is willing to take the place of his master. In this case, why not rename our new story more appropriately to better reflect its content - to something like The Prostitutes' Sacrifice of Vlad, Isaac's Erect Manservant... 



Comments

  1. LOL

    Many times! LOLOLOL

    Brilliant idea, and I love that you did this with such a foundational text! Makes me think of Steinbeck's The Angry Raisins (that would be The Grapes of Wrath, translated into Mandarin and back to English).

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Angry Raisins - that's good. You do that one and see what comes of it! :)

    ReplyDelete

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