It’s a long time since my last list of Bible and mission links, so this offering will be a little longer than most.
I struggle with the fact that people keep on producing new translations of the Bible into English, where there are so many people around the world who don’t even have their first translation. However, I find it hard to argue with N.T. Wright, who has been producing his own translation as part of the work on writing a series of commentaries. You can read what Scott McKnight thinks of this work here (he likes it). Meanwhile, there are people getting on with translating the Bible into different languages around the world and one church in England has just posted news of their involvement in the process.
You know what? Bible translation is a complex business. This excellent article sets out some of the difficulties involved in translating a Greek and Hebrew text into very different languages.
It is very difficult to discuss translation in non-technical terms. This is further complicated if the intended audience knows only one language. Many people have the mistaken idea that translation is simply a matter of exchanging words in the source text for an equivalent word in the new language. While this may appear to be a beautiful academic theory, languages often don’t have direct one-word equivalents (e.g., English has one word for “love” – two if you count, “charity” – but Greek has four words for “love”).
Bible translation is perhaps the most technically difficult aspect of Christian mission and one which people tend to take rather for granted. Recently there has been a good deal of furore online about the translation of the term Son of God in certain contexts. Now, I’m all in favour of people taking a good hard look at translation and asking difficult questions. If this is something that interests you, you should probably start with the latest version of the International Journal of Frontier Missions.
Reflections on Past Posts
My recent post on the kerfuffle regarding Mark Driscoll’s view of the British Church received more hits in a day than anything else I’ve written over the past five years. It appears that you can talk about the Bible and Mission all you like, but people won’t take much notice, but mention a couple of Christian celebrities and you will get lots of hits! Never mind, I’ll stick with the day job! Anyway, David Fitch has written an interesting piece about Driscoll’s outburst. I don’t agree with everything he says, but it is a fascinating piece of cultural analysis with some excellent insights.
Going further back, I wrote a short piece for the Guardian’s Comment is Free section in December. Mark picked up on the article and the comments that it elicited to write an excellent reflection on sharing the Gospel in a pluralist society.
I really like Eddie’s article about how the story of God becoming man is for people of all nations and languages. But I think he would agree that unless the people we are engaging with are able to see in our day to day lives the truth of the gospel of love, humility and service as we take up our cross and follow Jesus in the power of his Spirit, they are always likely to be hostile to our strange and revolutionary message.
For the record, I almost agree with Mark, but not quite: I believe we that people should be able to see the reality of the Gospel at work in our lives through the power of the Spirit – but, even then, they may still be hostile to our message.
Simon asks the interesting question “What is a missionary” and Relevent Magazine asks whether missionaries destroy culture (no), meanwhile, Hannah, her tongue firmly in her cheek gives some excellent hints as to how to have a succesful career as a missionary.
Once again, I’m grateful to Antony for pointing me to some excellent resources: an essay on a missiological hermeutic (which is much more interesting than it sounds) and an excellent looking journal, Missio Dei.