I am the door (gate)

The Greek that is translated in English typically as “I am the door (or: gate)” is translated in Lak as “I am the entrance.”

Vitaly Voinov tells this story:

“Field testing showed that some readers might find it hard to understand how a person could say about themselves that they are a door or gate. What exactly this metaphor means in this context was not well understood and caused what linguists call ‘processing difficulty.’ Even when it was explicated by ‘I am the door/gate for the sheep,’ it still caused problems in understanding. In other languages that have experienced a similar problem with this metaphor, translators have sometimes resorted to turning it into a simile, ‘I am like a door/gate.’ But in the Lak case, this would still leave unanswered the basic question of what the exact point of similarity is between Jesus and a door/gate. After much discussion, the team decided to try a different synonym, ‘I am the entrance.’ Further field testing should show whether this has solved the problem or not.”

Likewise, in Chichewa, “‘door’ is ‘that which shuts in,’ so naturally no one is going to be able to ‘enter by’ it. The solution in this case is not too hard to find: Christ is the ‘doorway,’ or entrance, to the house, building, stockpen, or whatever. When ‘open,’ he allows free passage; when ‘closed,’ one’s entry is barred.” (Source: Wendland 1987, p. 121)

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