An ‘Interesting’ English Translation of the Bible

The problem with the Bible is that some bits of it are distinctly uncomfortable; what we really need is a translation that is uplifting, but which doesn’t actually disturb our way of life. Thankfully, Archdruid Eileen has come up with the answer to this problem; the NUSV.

And so we have produced the Not So Unpleasant Version of the Bible. Like the original Bible, but with all the nasty bits sanitised. So if you’re fed up with bloodshed, slaughter and annihilation in your favourite inspired text, why not try the NSUV? For example:

In the NSUV, after a heated debate with his brother, Cain admits that his offering wasn’t as good as Abel’s. God tells them that, actually, he was just feeling a bit grumpy and off cereals, and they were both pretty good.

Noah trains as a lifeguard. In gratitude for him saving their lives in the Flood, the people of Mesopotamia mend their ways.

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah take Lot’s guests down the pub for a pint.  Neither fire nor brimstone are required.

If you’d like to read more blog posts on English versions of the Bible (which may be more serious, but less profound than this one) try this link. Just in case you need reminding, this post is filed under humour.

English Translations: Two Good Articles

I don’t really want to blog about English translations of the Bible, but I don’t seem to be able to avoid it. Today, I came across a couple of good articles which I think will be of interest to readers of Kouyanet.

The first is on the FIEC website and written by David Shaw and looks at the 2011 edition of the NIV. This update of a familiar translation has been vilified in some circles, but it really doesn’t deserve the criticism it has received. Shaw does a great job of unpacking the issues around it and his piece is well worth a read.

We need to remember that God’s perfect word doesn’t change but that imperfect translations do and that’s often a good thing precisely because they are imperfect. There is always room for improvement. In the case of the 2011 NIV, about 95% is identical with the 1984 NIV. According to the committee in charge of the NIV 2011, chaired by Douglas Moo, changes were made for one or more of three reasons:

  1. Progress in scholarship
  2. Concern for clarity
  3. Changes in English

The second article I came across is an excellent overview of what we need to think about when it comes to comparing different English versions of the Bible by Mark Ward.

Bible translation reviews are like newspaper articles on climate change. Few of us have any real scientific knowledge, let alone the specialized kind required for understanding that complex issue. We have to trust that the journalist has done his or her homework. Likewise, reviewers of Bible translations are asking us to trust them—while generally providing lists of examples in which you can supposedly “see for yourself” what’s wrong (or right) with a given translation.

Don’t take my word for it, go and read these excellent articles. Meanwhile, remember that there are almost 2,000 languages without a single word of Scripture available to them.

English Bibles Cartoons

Everyone likes cartoons and what could be better for this blog than a cartoon about different Bible translations? Make sure that you do have a quick look at the link or the rest of this post won’t make much sense (even then it may not).

Bible translation isn’t the funniest subject in the world and this cartoon takes a stab at making a difficult subject approachable. However, sadly, the comments alongside each cartoon don’t quite match up to the standard of the drawings. I’ll just take three examples:

New Living Translation: A nice guy, but a little immature. Frequently gets in trouble with the older crowd. Still digs veggie tales.

This gives the impression that the NLT is not a serious translation and is just useful for children or youth. The reality is that the NLT is an excellent translation. Most Bible translators I know rate it highly and many (myself included) use it as their first choice translation. It is unfortunate that the publishers gave it the name they did, which automatically links it to the original ‘Living Translation’ a completely different and much inferior publication. With a different name, this translation would be much more highly regarded – as it definitely should be.

New International Version: Was super cool in high school. Unfortunately got caught up in the wrong crowd and was never quite the same after that.

I assume that the reference to the ‘wrong crowd’ refers to the issue of gender-neutral translations. I’ve gone into this issue previously, and won’t unpack it here. However, I do think it’s a shame that the cartoonist refers to people he obviously disagrees with as ‘the wrong sort’. I know it’s only a cartoon, but given the amount of vitriol that has been poured out over this issue, I think the term is unfortunate, even if only in jest. I quoted Don Carson in my earlier post on this issue:

…Would it not be good to recognize that there are people of good will on both sides of this debate? Both sides are trying to be true to Scripture, and to make their understandings known; and both make money in the process. (read more)

English Standard Version: One cool cat. All the popular folks like him. Recent success may be going to his head a little. Was reformed before it was cool.

I’m not sure how you can refer to a translation which in language and philosophy is distinctly old fashioned as ‘cool’. But I’m not a popular cartoonist and I’ve never been cool, so what do I know? The ESV is a good translation (as are the other two above) but the cartoonist is right that “success may be going to its (little in-joke there) head”. I’ve blogged elsewhere about how the marketing department responsible for the ESV should be ashamed of some of their actions.

So what are we to make of this?

  • If you want to be amused in a religious fashion, Christian cartoonists are a good place to start (I’d suggest reading Dave Walker). However, if you want good information on English Bible Versions, you’d be better off reading a book: like this one. In fact, if you haven’t read Dave Brunn’s book then you really shouldn’t be talking about the question at all.
  • Most people haven’t grasped the fundamentals of Bible translation terms and need to study my authoritative guide in depth.
  • We don’t need to worry about all of the millions who don’t have any Scripture in their own language. It is probably more important to sort out which is the best available version in English (slight sarcasm for those who don’t spot it).

Words in Context

Translation is simple isn’t it? Just a case of finding the right words in the new language to replace the words in the old language; nothing to it really!

Well, of course it isn’t as simple as that. Words combine into phrases which don’t quite up to the sum of the individual parts; has anyone ever really had a frog in their throat?

There are many complexities in translation; not least the fact that words change their meaning according to the context. Nataly Kelly, co-author of the excellent Found in Translation, has just posted an excellent blog post which explores the way in which some common English words have multiple senses according to the context in which we find them.

This infographic captures the issue wonderfully.

Words with Multiple Meanings

Though the example is from English, the same is actually true of every language, including Greek and Hebrew; the meaning of a word is determined by its context. This is why it is impossible to always translate a word or phrase in the Bible by the same word or phrase in English (or any other language for that matter). Languages just don’t work like that.   

 

The Perfect Translation

If you ever feel like starting an online argument; just ask people what their favourite version of the Bible is. People get really excited about this one and start chucking terms like paraphrase and dynamic equivalence around like hand grenades. Some people love to argue about Bible translations!

Can I let you into a secret? Almost all of the English translations are really good. The NIV, ESV, NLT and a host of other three letter acronyms are all worth reading. They have their strengths and weaknesses and some are more suitable in some situations than others; but they are all good translations. Oh, did I mention that I’m a Bible translator?

To be frank, I don’t care which translation of the Bible you read as long as you read it. Far better to read a version of the Bible that isn’t perfect than to have the world’s greatest translation sitting on your shelves unopened. Get into the Word and don’t get paranoid about finding the perfect translation.

Meanwhile, as English speakers get all heated up about which translation they should read, there are about 210,000,000 people who don’t have a single word of the Bible in their language. That’s right, while we have shelves of versions to choose from, there are about 2,000 languages without a verse of Scripture.

This is the opening for a post I wrote for the GOD52 blog. Read the whole thing here.

Books I Have Read: One Bible, Many Versions

Right, let’s not mess around; this is a good book, a very good book. If you have any interest in Bible translation or in English versions of the Bible, then you must read it. There is no reason not to. Is that clear enough?

One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? is different to most other books about English Bible versions in two key ways. The first is that it doesn’t base its opinions on translation theory or what the publishers of the various translations say about their work; it is grounded in solid analysis of what the translations actually say and do. There is a wealth of tables and information to illustrate the sorts of decisions that different translations have made. The second great feature of this book is that it is written by an experienced Bible translator; Dave Brunn worked in Papua New Guinea as a translator with New Tribes Mission. His experience in a language very different to English allows him to analyse the current discussion about English versions from an objective approach not available to many.

I have my own theory on why there is often disagreement among English speaking Christians about Bible translations. I believe it is in part due to the fact that most of us live in monolingual societies. The majority of native English speakers have never learned a second living language to full fluency. And of those who have, most learned another Indo-European language - which of course, would be related in some ways to English. Many English speakers base their view of New Testament translation entirely on translating from Greek into its Indo-European relative, English I believe this narrow perspective is a major reason for many of the disagreements that exist regarding English translation. (p.145)

Ouch! But, it is hard to disagree with this.

The book deals head on with some of the shibboleths of Bible translation pundits. For example those who advocate more literal translations often insist that their should be lexical concordance – that is a Greek or Hebrew word should always be translated by the same English word. Brunn doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at the theory of this; he just examines what different translations actually do. For example, the King James Version,which is often regarded as very literal, translates the Greek word logos in 24 different fashions (p.74). Perhaps lexical concordance isn’t all that its proponents would have us believe.

Word for word. When Bible scholars describe an English Bible Version as a word-for-word translation, they know among themselves that they do not mean that each word in English corresponds to a word in the original. But to the average reader, the term “word for “word could imply that translation is an exact science, almost like mathematical encryption. By now, it should be clear that there is no such thing as a consistently word for word translation in English. (p.129)

Perhaps someone should tell the marketing department of one major Christian publisher!

The book also looks in some considerable detail at the way things such as idioms are translated across different English translations. It is fascinating to note that so called dynamic translations such as the NIV often preserve more of the original form of the original language than formal translations such as the ESV.

One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? very helpfully points out that it is impossible to place translations at points on a scale from literal to dynamic. Each translation occupies a range on the scale; in some places they are more dynamic, in others they are more literal. For the most parts, the ranges of the main translations overlap. The ESV is generally more literal than the NLT but there are places where the opposite is true.

The book concludes with a series of helpful statements that more or less sum up where we are at the moment regarding translations into English. Here is a selection

  • Every version translates thought for thought rather than word for word in many contexts.
  • Every version gives priority to meaning over form.
  • Every version translates some Hebrew or Greek words many different ways.
  • Every version paraphrases in some contexts.
  • Every version uses interpretation when translating ambiguities.
  • Every version replaces some masculine forms with gender-neutral forms.

Different English versions have a lot more in common than many people (especially marketing departments) would have you believe.

If I haven’t made it clear yet, let me do so. One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? is an excellent book. It is well researched, thorough, non-partisan and reliable. Anyone who wants to pontificate on the value or otherwise of different English versions will have to interact with this book. Or to put it another way; if you haven’t read One Bible, Many Versions then you should refrain from saying to much about English translations until you do.

This may well be the best book I read this year.

Meanwhile, back in the outside world, there are still over 300 million people without a single translation of the Bible in their own language.

William Tyndale

There is an excellent article on William Tyndale in Knowing and Doing (the magazine of the C.S. Lewis Institute) which anyone interested in the Bible or Translation would profit from. (HT Antony Billington)

Tyndale was both an able scholar (fluent  in seven languages in addition to English)  and “a conscious craftsman” with an “extraordinary gift for uniting the skill  of making sense of an original with the music of  spoken English at its best.” He succeeded in making the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament speak in remarkably clear, beautiful and vigorous English.

His work made the English a Bible-reading people and influenced future translations down to the present. Because William Tyndale gave the English people the Bible in
their own language, he is rightly honored as the “apostle of England.”

Not a few of Tyndale’s translations have become a part of the English language, including the following:

• “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
• “No man can serve two masters.”
• “Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and
ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.”
• “Give unto one of these little ones to drink, a
cup of cold water only.”
• “The spirit is willing.”
• “Fight the good fight.”
• “In him we live and move and have
our being.”
• “With God all things are possible.”
• “Be not weary in well doing.”
• “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”

This is the sort of legacy that any contemporary translator, in any language would love to leave behind. I do hope that it can be said of our work that it is expressed in remarkably clear, beautiful and vigorous Kouya.

Bible and Mission Links 26

Myths and Bible Translation

Dan Wallace has a list of Five More Myths about Bible translation. In the space of a short article, he manages to take on Dan Brown, Islamic views of textual transmission and those people who think that verses printed in red are Jesus’ exact words. Good stuff in a small space.

Meanwhile, in a post which will comfort some and frustrate others,  Joel Hoffman talks about the Mythical Value of Reading the Bible in the Original languages.

More generally, the notion that studying Greek (or Hebrew) leads to a better understanding of the original texts is predicated on the idea that a student can do better than the professional translators. While, unfortunately, Bible translations tend to be of lower quality than other translations, they are still good enough that it’s pretty hard for all but the most expert students of Greek and Hebrew to find a true mistake.

What usually happens instead is that a professional translation takes a variety of factors into account while the student misses some of the nuances. Most people, unless they intend to become an expert, will understand the Bible better in translation. Worse, because of their limited knowledge, they’ll think their own reading is better than the accepted translations. This is a case of the clichéd way in which a little knowledge is dangerous.

Simon, meanwhile has reveals the shocking truth that the Bible isn’t new to him in any language:

I have heard many pastors and preachers tell of how much they love reading the Bible, how it’s a living word to them, and how every time they read it, it comes alive to them and they get something new and fresh from it. I have a dirty secret; that doesn’t happen for me. Yes, I love reading the Bible, but what generally happens is that I pick it up, and I go: I know this. I’ve read it, many many times, forward and backwards, in English and Japanese, Greek and Hebrew. This is not new information for me.

But I’m not sure that I actually need a fresh revelation right now. And I’m not sure that’s what God wants for me either. I don’t think God wants me to come up with a new, creative interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan; he just wants me to love my neighbour. I don’t think I need to notice something new about going into the world and making disciples of all nations; I just need to go, and do it.

Finally in this section, Mark and Laura Ward reveal the fallacy that lies behind some of the arguments used by proponents of the King James Only movement.

Missionary Life

A Faith to Live By gives us the extraordinary words with which Adoniram Judson asked his future father in law for his daughter’s hand in marriage. In rather more colourful language, Jamie gives her advice to anyone who is thinking about becoming a missionary (advice, I heartily endorse). Basically, Jamie says, start off by getting a real job:

A real job will teach you to live on a real budget. Because if you say to your real boss, “Hey, can I have some more money for a new car this week?” They’ll say “Um…No.” And then you’ll have to save your money, like a normal person, and buy the car later. Or not buy the car. … I know. It’s cRaZy!
A real job will help you learn not to be an entitled, self-righteous bunghole. Because if you act like that at a real job, they will kick your ass to the curb.
A real job will help you understand time management. Because, your real schedule will not likely allow you to spend three hours every Friday afternoon with your friends or your kids, – even if you call it “discipleship” on Facebook. Actually, that reminds me, your real job won’t let you call any time you spend on Facebook “work”. Not “support development”, not “communication”, not “team building”… Nope. No matter how you say it, Real Job does not approve.

A Bit of Controversy
Mark Woodward has some interesting thoughts on the subject of the Good News for the Poor.

What is the good news for the Bajaj driver, who works long hours to earn more than the $60 a month he pays to rent his vehicle, so he can make ends meet? What about the porter working in an electronics store, earning $50 a month carrying equipment around? What is the good news for the young men at the bus terminal, making small change packing bags into buses and selling phone credit?

Ben Tredaway, a recent University Graduate has some challenging things to say about evangelism. I don’t agree with all he has to say, but it’s well worth a read.

I’ll finish off with this great picture from Exploring Our Matrix.

 

 

It’s a Bit More Complex Than That

Most mornings, which I turn on my computer I find that Google has selected a few new blog posts on the subject of Bible translation for me to read. Generally, these are discussing the merits of various English translations and I can safely ignore them. However, this morning I came across two posts that caused me to pause. The first was an old post from Adrian Warnock (I’ve got no idea why Google picked up on it today) which consisted of a quote from Wayne Grudem saying why he believes that literal, or word for word, translations are best. There was no discussion of what Dr Grudem said and no probing of his ideas. The implication was that because Grudem said it, it must be true – end of argument.

“I cannot teach theology or ethics from a dynamic equivalent Bible. I tried the NIV for one semester, and I gave it up after a few weeks. Time and again I would try to use a verse to make a point and find that the specific detail I was looking for, a detail of wording that I knew was there in the original Hebrew or Greek, was missing from the verse in the NIV.

“Nor can I preach from a dynamic equivalent translation. I would end up explaining in verse after verse that the words on the page are not really what the Bible says, and the whole experience would be confusing and would lead people to distrust the Bible in English . . .

“Nor would I want to memorize passages from a dynamic equivalent translation. I would be fixing in my brain verses that were partly God’s words and partly some added ideas, and I would be leaving out of my brain some words that belonged to those verses as God inspired them but were simply missing from the dynamic equivalent translation.

The second post which caught my eye was a list of fifteen myths about Bible translation from Daniel Wallace; the first of which reads:

Perhaps the number one myth about Bible translation is that a word-for-word translation is the best kind. Jerome argued against this, noting that his translation of the Vulgate was not word-for-word, but sense-for-sense. And that’s as it should be. Anyone who is conversant in more than one language recognizes that a word-for-word translation is simply not possible if one is going to communicate in an understandable way in the receptor language. Yet, ironically, even some biblical scholars who should know better continue to tout word-for-word translations as though they were the best. Perhaps the most word-for-word translation of the Bible in English is Wycliffe’s, done in the 1380s. Although translated from the Latin Vulgate, it was a slavishly literal translation to that text. And precisely because of this, it was hardly English.

I was rather amused that these two articles turned up next to each other in my Google reader! What to make of this discrepancy? I think the obvious point is that things are not quite as simple as Dr Grudem and Adrian Warnock would have us believe. This is ground that we’ve covered more than once on Kouya Chronicle.

The first thing to note is that the division between ‘literal’ and ‘dynamic’ or ‘word for word’ and ‘idea for idea’ translations is not particularly helpful. These are not terms which are used in any other field of translation and I’m not sure that they really help us understand translation debates. Joel Hoffman covered this issue a while ago and one commentator wrote:

The terminology of Bible translation annoys me somewhat, because in the real world of professional translation, these terms don’t exist. There’s mainly just good translation and bad, with some genres requiring more lexical rigidity than others. Preserving the word order and other idiosyncrasies of the source language is always inadvisable. Language is a vehicle for conveying thought. When your focus becomes preserving syntax instead of thought, you’ve missed the point.

However, I think we are probably stuck with the terms ‘literal’ and ‘dynamic’ even if they are not particularly helpful.  With that in mind, I have to say that there are some serious problems with the idea of ‘literal’ translation. You can see this illustrated in a couple of short blog posts; one by me and one by Nora. On a more scholarly level, Mark Naylor has this to say:

The English Standard Version (ESV), according to the preface on its website, “is an ‘essentially literal’ translation” that emphasizes “word-for-word” correspondence, in order to “be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.”However, unfortunately for literal translations, there is an inverse relationship between maintaining the structure of the original text with “word-for-word” correspondence and the communication of meaning. To the extent that a translation maintains original structure and words, it fails to provide the meaning.  Therefore, to claim direct access to both structure and meaning is oxymoronic. It is only by using the target language structure and words (i.e., the language of the reader) that communication is achieved.

Elsewhere, Naylor takes a more nuanced view:

Though individually limited, together literal and meaning-based translations provide readers with greater confidence that they have grasped the intended meaning of the original text. Exclusive use of a literal version makes it difficult for the reader to understand the message. Exclusive use of one meaning-based translation will prevent the reader from exposure to other possible nuances of the original text. Excellent scholarship lies behind both literal and meaning-based versions so that we can read them with confidence and compare them in order to obtain a deeper appreciation of the message. Literal translations ensure that we maintain a tie to the original text as the standard for the meaning, while meaning-based translations provide clarity and comprehension.

And this to me, is the point. There are strengths and weaknesses in all Bible translations; they are the work of fallible men. All of the translators of the major versions in English have set out to translate Scripture as faithfully as they can according to their own knowledge and abilities; we should be grateful to them. Equally, we all have our preferences as to the values of one translation over another. Dr Grudem clearly has strong views, but his is not the only opinion out there and there are other theologians and scholars who take a diametric opposite view. These are complex issues. Meanwhile, there are still 340,000,000 people without a single word of Scripture in their language. Perhaps if we spent less time faffing around discussing the merits English translations, we might contribute something to this.

One final note; the ultimate and authoritative guide to Bible translation terminology is still available on Kouya.net.

The Soul Survivor Youth Bible

Hodder and Stoughton have kindly sent me a copy of the NIV Soul Survivor Youth Bible to review.

In their blurb, Amazon write:

With over 500 extra bits from the team and young people at Soul Survivor and other well-known experts, the NIV Soul Survivor Youth Bible digs deep into the Bible – its key themes, the big stories that run all the way through, the wisdom, stories and human lives that we can learn from. It also shows what the Bible has to say about things that we all face today, from tough life and world issues to the questions you really hope your mates don’t ask.

‘We’ve asked tough questions (like, ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ and ‘What’s Leviticus all about?!’) as well as tackling important issues that we face today (like relationships, terrorism, money).There are different streams on each topic for individual or group study, Bible reading plans, helpful facts and accessible stories. In short, we’ve packed every last thing that we could into these pages- and we’ve banned all jargon so it all makes sense!’

The first question that I might be expected to ask is whether there is need for yet another English Bible. However, this is not a new translation – it uses the NIV text – but a new edition with various helps to Bible reading and study included. If this gets people reading God’s Word, I’m all for it.

This Bible is currently only available in hardback, which makes for a nice solid book, but I’m not sure how well it will be adapted to a life of being stuffed into backpacks and carried around. Sometimes paperback Bibles can put up with a nomadic life better than hardbacks. The cover has a three colour dramatic design with the Soul Survivor name and logo prominently displayed; it certainly isn’t your standard ‘Bible-black’. While the cover isn’t a big issue, I do think that the prominent ‘Soul Survivor’ branding could be a mixed blessing. It will certainly be attractive to the large number of young people who are associated with Soul Survivor, but it may alienate those who have no contact with the movement. This would be a shame, because this really is a very good ‘youth Bible’.

The extra materials; study guides, introductions and such like, are all clearly set apart from the biblical text and, for the most part, don’t distract from reading the Bible itself, which is undoubtedly a good thing. That being said, the quality of the ‘extra material’ is generally very good. Each biblical book is preceded by a short introduction explaining what the book is about and why we should read it. These introductions are short, pithy and they were written for young people just getting to grips with the Bible, not for specialists in biblical studies. No doubt, it would be possible to pick holes in them, but that would be to miss the point. They set out to do a simple job and they do it well. I wish I’d had these introductions available to me 35 years ago. At the end of the Bible there is a short study guide to the Bible and a list of verses to look at in particular situations.

One particularly helpful concept is the ‘Walks’; these are guided series of readings touching on essential topics in the Bible. Each of these walks has fourteen passages to read and takes you through a subject such as the life of Jesus, or the journey to the promised land. I reckon that each of these walks could provide excellent material for a term’s talks or studies for a church youth group.

Scattered through the Bible are individual articles on subjects such as giving, prayer, evangelism and such like. These articles don’t avoid the tough questions and there are pieces on hell and genocide. As you would expect, the quality of these articles is variable; some are excellent, most are good and one or two could do with rewriting – but I’m being picky.

On a lighter note, there are some great little pieces which are not very deep, but which would grab the attention of the intended readership. Who could resist a study of the most disgusting meals in the Bible?

Overall, I think that this is an excellent edition of the NIV. I’m not sure whether the Soul Survivor branding is a good idea or not. It will certainly help people who have attended the various manifestations of Soul Survivor to pay attention to their Bibles, but it might also alienate others who would benefit from this great youth Bible. Just being a little picky, unless I missed something, the issue of world mission doesn’t really get adequate coverage though some of the trendier causes of the day do get a mention.

If you are looking for a Bible to give to a young person, I strongly suggest that you go out and give the Soul Survivor Youth Bible a look. Now that I’ve finished writing this, I’m going to go and give my review copy to our Youth department!

Bible and Mission Links 21

It’s been a while since my last update of all things Bible and mission floating around the internet, so there is a fair bit to mention this time round.

Bible Translation

Coming from a secularised western society, I find it difficult to get my mind around concepts such as witchcraft and sorcery. However, this is something that Bible translators cannot ignore; the Bible has a fair bit to say on the subject and many languages have very complex ways of addressing it. The complexity of this issue is a great illustration of the  simple fact that not just anyone can be a Bible translator. The Huffington Post has an interesting background piece on myths about translation.

English Bibles

Tim asks the not unreasonable question of why we need so many versions of the Bible in English while Joel asks how our favourite Bible translations measure up. I am constantly amazed at the new and rather odd editions of the Bible which are produced in the US. If this review is at all accurate, I won’t be hurrying out to buy a copy of the Founders’ Bible at any time soon, but I might be tempted to buy a copy of the Mission of God Study Bible.

βλογάπη (great name for a website) has a fascinating link to a piece which evaluates the historical impact of the KJV.

Cross-Cultural Mission

Mark Woodward picked up on my links to Mark Meynel’s blog (the Two Marks of Mission?) and wrote an excellent piece which is well worth quoting:

What would it mean for us to make strategic decisions based on a study of God’s mission throughout the Bible? Or what Jesus had to say about poverty and wealth? As we are working across cultures and in multi-ethnic teams, what can we learn from Paul’s New Testament letters as he continually battles with a multi-racial church, with vastly different cultures, histories and traditional beliefs, that he insists has been united in Christ? How might we plan our work in a post-colonial and globalised world in light of the Bible’s interaction with the major themes of empire and oppression? Or slavery and (both geographical and spiritual) exile? How might the biblical approaches to suffering and persecution inform our decisions? Or the experiences of communities in the Bible as they live as ethnic minorities, with their culture and identity under threat from every side? What can we learn from Jesus about how to announce a kingdom that is putting everything right, but starts out as a small seed that falls to the ground?

I think at times we can be afraid to discuss these things in a corporate setting (particularly those of us working in an inter-denominational environment), as we are afraid to disagree. But again I think this fear stems from the modern insistence that there is only one right answer, and that we must decide on it together. Maybe the truth is that it’s only actually as diverse but united believers, wrestling with these huge issues and humbly stepping forward in faith, that we begin to draw closer to God and appreciate more of what he is doing in his world.

Jonathan Martin writes about a controversy which has convulsed parts of the American Christian blogsphere, but does so from a perspective of the world Church. What he has to say puts a lot of our current theological questions into perspective:

The average Christian in the world right now is an African or Latin American female in her early 20’s.  She doesn’t read our blogs and she doesn’t readChristianity Today.  She doesn’t know or care who I am and she never will.  The names Piper, Driscoll, Chan, Bell, Stanley, Warren—mean nothing to her.  Like most Pentecostal women coming into the kingdom around the world, words like “complementarian” and “egalitarian” are not in her vocabulary, nor Calvinism and Arminianism.  Unlike some of my brothers would lead you believe (where their lunch table is the only one that cares about Scripture and THE GOSPEL while anybody who believes differently from them in these tired conversations are flaming liberals), she takes the authority of the Bible very seriously.  But more importantly, she believes in the power of the Bible in ways that are incomprehensible even for our most rabid “conservatives.”  The western filter and language that frames these issues will not be determinative for her, unlucky as she is not to read our blogs.  She may well in end up leading a church one day where she preaches Jesus like a woman on fire and lays hands on the sick and watches God heal them, though this will surprise those Reformed colleagues who are sure all female church leaders have been trained by godless-Unitarian-lesbian-leftist-radical feminist-seminarians (she didn’t have access to seminary at all–unfortunately she has read the Acts of the Apostles).  Who knew?

The world has moved on, God has moved on, and we didn’t even notice.

Resources

There is a fascinating pieceon the Affinity website about reaching post-modern youth who come from an Eastern-Orthodox background. Thanks to Tim for pointing out that  Thomas Shcirrmacher’s collection of essays,  World Mission: Heart of Christianity, is available as a free pdf download. I’ve only just started reading this, but it seems very good so far. Ben has linked to some fascinating maps which look at the way in which religious believers have migrated around the world and Mez has reviewed one of the best books I know on Christian social involvement.

Varia

The Beaker Folk have posted an excellent guide to evaluating mission initiatives:

From the Beaker FOlk

 While the Opinionated Vicar has a great illustration of discipleship: