Bible Translation Church: UK Church: World Mission

Paul Shaddick: Translating God’s Word

Paul Shaddick, who used to work on a neighbouring language to Kouya in Ivory Coast, has just updated his website and started blogging (but there is no RSS feed, Paul). Whatever the quality of the content of the website, it is hard to forgive him for the pun in the header. Paul is now the IT officer for AIM international and has the strap line, Consider IT pure joy in the header.

One of Paul’s first posts is a longish article which looks at the necessary criteria for a good Bible translation (accuracy, clarity and naturalness) and then seeks to apply these to preaching and Evangelism in churches. This piece is well worth reading, I’ve quoted the conclusion at some length.

On the subject of language, let me express my personal convictions. In our evangelism, teaching and worship, I am convinced that we should use plain modern everyday English:

  • Technical terms can be useful as shorthand for theologians, but most people today are not theologians so if we use them we must explain them.
  • In New Testament times people spoke many different languages, but many people also spoke and used Greek. But this was not the technically complex and by then archaic language of Homer and Plato but a simpler modern language. This is the language used by the writers of the New Testament. They used that language because it communicated most clearly to the largest number of people, they also used a Greek translation of the Old Testament.
  • I know that many people love the Authorized Version and that God has and still does use it to speak to people’s hearts. However, we must recognise that our English language has changed in the last 400 years. As a result the Authorized Version often fails to communicate the Word of God with the clarity which it did when it was first translated particularly to those who have not been brought up using it. I know that this is a controversial issue and I have no desire to create controversy among God’s people, but I would not be honest and open if I avoided saying what I think is important. I pray that saying this will not cause division and contention, but that all who love God’s word would want it to communicate as clearly as possible to whoever reads it or hears it read.
  • We should also consider the language we use in singing and praying. Archaic language in our hymn books may be familiar to us, but if we do not actually understand what we are singing, then we might as well not sing it. Our hymns are a tremendous heritage. They help us in praising God and fixing truth in our minds, but in our singing we need to keep the message clear.

Let us translate God’s message to the world as Christ did. All our actions and our words should be accurate, clear and natural. The results ultimately depend on our sovereign God but we must be faithful in our proclamation of the gospel and use all legitimate means to teach the truth as God has revealed it to us.

Great stuff (but still doesn’t make up for the strap line).

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

9 replies on “Paul Shaddick: Translating God’s Word”

This is a nice website, using the excellent (and free) content management system Joomla!, which is also what is used for my church’s website which I helped to set up.

But I don’t think it’s a blog. Yes, I know there is a link called “blog”, but this is what Joomla! calls a “blog” which seems to be quite different from what most of us know as a blog.

Paul, if you want to set up a proper blog, I would recommend WordPress. I guess Eddie also would. It would even include RSS and similar feeds. And, despite what Eddie thinks about it, you could still use that strapline.

Don’t suppose for one moment that Paul will worry what I think. He never did when I was his boss!

Yes, I would recommend WordPress, I think it’s wonderful. I did look at using Joomlah as a CMS for a Church website I designed, but in the end, I couldn’t be bothered to learn a new system and set that up in WordPress too.

Eddie – Thanks for the link and letting meknow there was no RSS. I had accidentally switched syndication off. It’s back on now.
Peter – Nice to interact with you again after so many years. Thanks for your blogging which I usually find challenging and stimulating if sometimes irritating.
My reason for using Joomla is partly to do with my limited brain capacity. [url=]Our mission website[/url] and web applications are being built with Joomla, so I needed to learn more about it. I would probably have used a blog like WordPress rather than a Content Management System like Joomla if I had time to learn both, but one of the many things I did learn from Eddie is “life’s too short”.
I don’t know how much of a blogger I will become, but I am looking into a number of possibilities for tying Joomla more closely into the blogosphere.
If anyone thinking of creating their own site is interested in comparing features of different CMSs, blogs etc. do take a look at [url=]CMS Matrix[/url].

Thanks for your comments, Paul. It is good to be in touch again.

WordPress links are in (restricted) HTML, so try links like <a href=””>CMS Matrix</a>.

By the way, as for my blog being irritating, that is at least partly intentional. I want to provoke people a little to get them to think, and respond. But if you or anyone feels that I have gone further than I should do in Christian love, please say so in a comment, or personally to peter AT qaya DOT org.

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