Bible and Mission Links 11
You might find that Kouya Chronicle doesn’t look quite right at the moment or that some things are not working as they should. Sorry about that. We’ve got one of those annoying, untraceable software problems which I’m trying to fix when time allows.
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had been born in another country? What your life expectancy would be? Your chances of a job… If so, you really need to take a look at this excellent website, which will help you make those comparisons.
Getting hold of decent information is vital for mission work, but it can be harder than you might imagine. I was reminded of this when I read a piece by Ben, who points out that Kibera, often called the biggest slum in Africa, is actually much smaller than it is generally reported as being. Let’s see what difference this makes in how people describe it in the future.
Tangentially related to this, is the issue of missionary prayer and newsletters. I must admit that Sue and I struggle to write interesting news items – it’s partly why I took to blogging. Simon Cozens (a missionary, himself) has just posted a great blog on why he doesn’t read missionary newsletters. I think we’ve been guilty of most of the things he mentions at one time or another.
Ed Lauber has posted a fascinating little piece on the problems of translating Biblical measures into Ghanaian languages. What is a seah and how on earth do you explain it to people in rural West Africa?
While people in Ghana are fortunate if they have a Bible in their language at all, English speakers continue to get overheated on the subject of translation styles and gender specific language. There is an excellent post at Valued Exchange which demonstrates that although people may express strong convictions on this issue, they way the act can be quite different.
A recent study by Lifeway, pointed out by The Biblical World, shows that what people say they want in a Bible and what they buy are nearly opposites. Particularly, people want an accurate word-for-word translation, yet they buy the NIV in droves. The NIV is a thought-for-thought translation, not a word-for-word translation, and has long been ignored by scholars of the Bible because of this.
In the modern world we see through our own cultural lenses. The experiences we have had colour the way in which we use language. As we celebrate the King James Version of the bible it is important to remember the way in which language has developed over the past four hundred year and how concepts have been lost and words rendered new meanings.
If we are to continue to retell our salvation history afresh we need to constantly strive for both accuracy and cultural relevance to explain the most exciting tale ever told – that of God and how he reveals himself to his people in the past, how he reveals himself now and how he will reveal himself in the future!
A similar theme is highlighted in a post on the Wycliffe UK blog concerning a lecture given by Alistair McGrath on the Authorised Version. This quote from me catches the mood:
“The Kouya NT won’t have the global impact that the KJV had, there are only 14,000 Kouya. It’s not going to be a world changing book… But by God’s grace we made history for the Kouya people. Not because we’re anything special, but because this Word is special.”
The Beaker Folk interpretation of the Euodia and Syntyche story is a fascinating retelling of a familiar story, which might (just) count as translation. However, as so often with the Beaker blog posts, the sting is in the tale – and this is sheer brilliance.
That these two matrons of the church were able to maintain this rivalry at a time when the church was facing persecution, heresy and schism is some kind of tribute to them. The Greek language has changed, the Bible is now preached in English and is even available electronically. The note Paul dashed off on borrowed parchment during his imprisonment has been elevated to the status of Holy Scripture. But one tradition – that of rivalry and petty quarrels undermining the Gospel of peace and unity – has been maintained through 2,000 years. I believe we should all feel humbled.
The Bible and Mission Blog continues as one of the great places to find good resources on the web. They’ve recently posted an excellent list of Bible and Orality resources as well as a link to a free download of Chris Wright’s book on Reading Scripture Missiologically (this should be considered compulsary reading for anyone in Christian work).
Lastly for this outing, Good Intentions has an excellent piece on volunteering for overseas work which is as relevant to Christian mission as it is to the wider aid world. I well remember a colleague telling me that we shouldn’t hire a local administrator because God might be calling an American to do the job! Presumably, he thought that God doesn’t ever call local people. Hey ho!
When it gets right down to it, the fundamental reason why people may need aid is that they don’t have enough money to pay for something themselves. Anyone that has enough money could meet all of their own needs. Saudi Arabia has very little local food production, but they don’t have a food crisis because they have the money to pay to import food. People wouldn’t need an aid agency to come in and build school for them if they could earn a good enough money to contribute to the cost of the school themselves. Therefore, one key to alleviating poverty is creating jobs that pay a living wage. By working for free to do something a local person could be hired to do, you are essentially undercutting the local labor market, thereby continuing the poverty cycle.