Thursday, March 03, 2011

Fresh Appreciation for Bible Translators

I’ve done something unique the last couple of weeks in the Wednesday night Bible study time.  I typically prepare an outline for the study each week with a summary of the major truths and insights found in the passage.  The past two weeks I’ve tried my hand at offering a paraphrase of a number of the key verses in the chapters we’ve examined.  That’s a far different exercise than engaging in translation from the original biblical languages, but it has caused me to grow in my appreciation for the work of Bible translators. 

Translators are faced with the daunting task of faithfully expressing the meaning of the ancient biblical text in a manner that communicates in our contemporary language and culture.  While many still read the King James Version of the Bible (originally translated in 1611), it’s safe to say that none of us speak 17th-century English.  Many of the words and expressions from that era would need to be translated into modern lingo for us to grasp their meaning today.

In a sense, that’s the challenge we all face as Christians.  We’re to take the unchanging truths of Scripture and contextualize them in a world that is becoming increasingly biblically illiterate.  To a world that deems the message as archaic and mythical, we have the privilege and responsibility of communicating the Bible’s relevance in a clear and penetrating fashion.  A transformed life goes a long way toward underscoring the legitimacy of the message and the messenger.  Let’s live the truth daily.

1 comment:

John Notestein said...

I can't remember the exact percentage, but the Biblical illiteracy rate for people under 30 is very high. Combine that fact with the high percentage of ESL people we have (at least the one I come in contact with), it is essential to have translations that translate ancient idioms into modern ones. Also, some translations still use 'biblish', words that those of us who have been around churches for awhile understand but have no meaning in a modern setting. My hat's off to translators that can faithfully do that!