Lately I haven't been reading as much as I'd like from the Bible. I'm reading lots of spiritually-oriented books, but have not been spending as much time actually reading through the Scriptures. So I decided to go back to an old college-days habit of reading through the New Testament in a month. This breaks down to about 9 chapters a day. Now, I'm already behind but I'm finding that I'm spending more time reading, reflecting and actually craving to spend that time in the Word than when I hadn't been setting this goal for myself.
I decided to do it in Italian and it has been really cool. Over the years, I've noticed several little differences between the Italian and English translations: simple nuances that shed a new light on well-known verses and phrases. This morning I came across another.
Text: Matthew 26:49
Scene: Garden of Gethsemane. Judas and his large crowd of guards and thugs arrive and approach Jesus and his 11 disciples.
The Italian version says this: "E in quell'istante, avvicinatosi a Gesù, gli disse: «Ti saluto, Maestro!» e gli diede un lungo bacio."
My literal translation would be this: "And in that instant, coming up to Jesus, he said, "I greet you, Master!" and he gave him a long kiss."
So, you might say, what's the big deal? It's just an adjective. Well, it isn't a big deal. But it does add something to the scene. The Italian translation gives a more human, intimate portrayal of the contact between Christ and Betrayer. We're not talking about a peck or an 'air kiss.' We're talking about a lungo bacio.
The ONLY person I give lunghi baci to is my wife. Here we see Judas giving the sign to the crowd and it makes me for an instant stop and think. Why a long kiss? Did he really care for Jesus? Was he having second thoughts - coming face to face with the man who had called him and taught him so much? Or was Judas really so fake, so blind that this long kiss was meaningless, just a showy demonstration of his position as someone who was close to the Master?
Not sure - but as I read through the all-too-familiar scene this morning, this one word made me stop and picture the scene. I found myself re-reading, thinking through it, asking myself questions I hadn't asked before and getting another glimpse into the life of Jesus.