Have you ever wondered what goes into producing a translation of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings? This is the first in a three-part series in which we hope to shed light on the translation process and take up some of the questions we hear most frequently. We invite you to explore this important topic with us.
To date, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy has been officially translated into 16 languages. Just think of the “[m]illions of unprejudiced minds” (p. 570) who have access to our precious textbook’s healing message in their native languages! Our office has released several first-time translations in recent years, including the Spanish and French translations of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany in 2007 and 2008, followed by the Italian translation of Unity of Good in 2009, and most recently, the Portuguese translations of Unity of Good, Christian Healing, and The People’s Idea of God in 2010. With revisions of the German and Spanish translations of Science and Health well underway, we feel the time is ripe for a deeper look at how and why Mrs. Eddy’s writings are translated.
Each existing translation of our textbook grew naturally out of the active healing ministries of people who spoke those languages and who yearned to share these writings with a broader audience. It grew from their desire to demonstrate, in a practical way, Eddy’s statement that the revelation of divine Science is “open for all to read and understand” (Science and Health, p. 559). Often it begins with the translation of the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, and grows from there. Though several factors determine which titles should be translated into which languages— the demonstrated growth of a language field, the number of people who speak a particular language worldwide, the availability of translators—what is of utmost importance is that the translation will not simply be set on a shelf but that it will be studied thoroughly and shared actively.