I often have funny experiences in this country concerning my name. It doesn't seem like it would be a difficult name to pronounce in this language. "Ha" shouldn't be to much of a stretch from their "hai" or "he" sounds and "na" is one of the most common sounds. And yet many of my friends struggle.
Here are some of my favorite local versions of my name:
1) "Hanner" - I tend to hear this from friends from the northern part of the country and it's probably my favorite. It has a cute, affectionate ring to it. It is also the closest to my actual name, so I feel loved when I hear this misnomer instead of the others.
2) "Helen" - I haven no idea how they come to the conclusion that my name is Helen. The only correct letter is the first one. I guess there is an "n" in there, too, but it's just wrong. I have one friend who has called me Helen for a year now and I don't have the heart to tell her I sometimes don't know who she is talking about.
3) "Hiller/Hitler" - This one is just outrageous! I haven't heard it used myself, but my roommate told me about it. Her friend called me some sort of version of Hiller for a couple of hours, regardless of how many times my roommate stated my name for her to hear it correctly. I don't think she was actually saying Hitler, but at points in the conversation, it sounded just like it. The best part of the conversation went as follows... "Yeah, Hannah studied History and German at the university in America." "REALLY? I didn't know Hitler was German!" (Needless to say, my poor roommate could not figure out how the topic had switched so quickly.) "What? You didn't know what? Yeah, he was German." "I had no idea Hitler was German. That is amazing!" "Wait, no, HANNAH is not German. She is American." "Oh, then why did Hitler study German?"
"A highway shall be there, and a road,
And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean shall not pass over it,
But it shall be for others.
Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
Shall not go astray.
No lion shall be there,
Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it;
It shall not be found there.
But the redeemed shall walk there,
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
A year and a half ago, I would have read this passage and thought of the Highway of Holiness as the path created by God's commands. Obtaining life by following his laws and living according to his ways would have seemed to fit with my immediate assumptions concerning Israel. I probably would have bypassed this passage's obvious arrow to Christ.
But the Body's diversity is a really cool thing and I am impressed with the splendor of a multilingual community at the moment. I know it is important to understand Hebrew and Greek in order to get the best original meanings of the text, but as with the case of the above Isaiah passage, I am finding reading God's Word in a variety of modern languages is also beneficial. I can't help but think God reveals himself through the languages he has created and allows for unique scriptural insights in each translation of his Word.
"道“ is a very interesting word in the language I am currently studying. I obviously don't know as much about the word as a native speaker or any more serious scholar, but I do know a little about the word and it intrigues me. It is a complicated, ancient word connected to Taoism and loosely means the way, principle; path, road; and to speak, say.
It's an amazing word scripturally because it ties together so many of Christ's attributes. In translations of John 1, 道 is used for "the Word" that existed in the beginning and when Jesus calls himself "the way, the truth, and the life," 道 is used for "the way". When scripture uses 道 in John, it lends a fullness and roundness to who Christ is whereas English translations piece together multiple individual meanings to give us the same picture.
Back to Isaiah. Because I now have another translation of the Bible floating around in the back of my mind, when I read Isaiah 35, Christ is immediately visible. This passage is talking about a path that leads all who walk on it straight to holiness and redemption. There are no precursors to getting on the Highway - even a fool can come and find safety and direction. When I think of the word 道 rather than my own word of highway, religious laws quickly fade from my mind and a person comes in view. I no longer think of a way of life to follow, but rather THE 道. The road to redemption is a person, not a system.
I am thankful for God's creativity in language so that I might have a fuller understanding of what he is communicating to the world and that I might reach that understanding in connection to my brothers and sisters half way around the world.