Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dilemma of the Day

My current commute-book is Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World by Holley Bishop. Somewhat overly casual style and silly subtitle notwithstanding (a rant for another day), the book looked interesting, and I was enjoying it fairly well ... until the bottom of page 36, when Bishop, discussing the arrival of honeybees in North America via the English settlers, writes "Native North Americans at the time had never seen bees or honey and had no words for them. John Elliot [sic], the New England Puritan pastor who was translating the Bible into native dialects for the Algonquian and Cherokee tribes ..." (my italics).

The misspelling of Eliot's name I would have been able to deal with, but Bishop's inclusion of Cherokee among Eliot's translation projects is completely outrageous. Eliot worked in the mid-1600s (his translation of the Bible into the Natick dialect of Algonquian was published in complete form in 1663, and is something I've recently been researching). It wasn't until 1824 that efforts to create a Cherokee translation were even begun (and a full version of the entire Bible in Cherokee wasn't published until 1965). Not to mention the fact that Eliot, a New Englander as Bishop notes, was hardly in the correct region of the country for missionizing to the Cherokee even if he'd wanted to.

So, my dilemma: is this error of sufficient gravity that I won't be able to take any of the rest of the book at all seriously? I recognize fully the nit-pickiness of this, but such a blatant and frankly ridiculous error is quite troubling. I think I'm resolved to give it another chapter or two and see if I can manage, but it might be a tough go.