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Observations

Throwback: Bible Translation and Ethnicity

Committing a language to writing and translating the Bible is incredibly ennobling of ethnic identity. Grammars, dictionaries and books have played a vital part in the formation and survival of ethnes/nations. What Bible translators do is give ethnes, however small, an enhanced possibility of survival and growth into full nationhood.

Last week’s throwback was a review of my late friend Dewi’s book Castrating Culture. Here is another quote from Dewi, one which seems very appropriate in the current context.

The evangelical Protestant mission strategy of Bible translation cuts right across the modernist view of the nation-state. This strategy asserts that communicating the gospel in a person’s heart language is vital to effective evangelism. Even if pragmatism is the driving force for some missionaries, the act of learning a person’s language in order to be able to communicate an important message is recognition of the dignity and significance of a key characteristic of ethnic identity. Committing a language to writing and translating the Bible is incredibly ennobling of ethnic identity. Grammars, dictionaries and books have played a vital part in the formation and survival of ethnes/nations. What Bible translators do is give ethnes, however small, an enhanced possibility of survival and growth into full nationhood.

Dewi Hughes in Following Jesus as his community in the broken world of ethnic identity. Evangelical Review of Theology 31:4 2007.

One of the great things about the Global Connections conference is being able to spend time with people like Dewi, who is the author of the excellent Castrating Culture. It’s a real privilege to spend time with so many innovative thinkers who are also inspiring Christians.