This is especially true when it involves translating the sacred Hebrew Bible, a text that millions of people believe is the literal word of God and whose “newest” additions to the canon are at least 1,900 years old.
How difficult is such a task?
Imagine that 1,900 years from now, in 3919, a future translator came across a sentence about politics that someone might write today: “Many ardent supporters are dancing in the end zone because they believe the senator hit it out of the park with yesterday’s speech. As a result, they happily assert, the ball is now in someone else’s court.”
To understand this mix of metaphors demands a familiarity with contemporary football, baseball and basketball terminology. They’d need to know that “the park” in this case does not mean a public area set aside for relaxation, flowers and trees, but rather a sports stadium. The translator of the distant future would also need to know that the word “court” in this context denotes an athletic arena, and not a place to adjudicate legal issues, nor does it mean an ingratiating description of gaining the favor of someone. Only then could an authentic translation even begin.