From time to time, I have been known to be critical of some projects to translate the Bible into English. In fact, this was one of the things that helped people spot that my last post was actually an April Fool’s joke – there is no way that I’d be involved in a translation into English.
However, it is important to see this in context. I’m not opposed to English Bible translations, far from it, I’m just opposed to sinking so many resources into one language, when there are still thousands of languages without a single word of Scripture.
To be honest, I love the Bible in English! It’s my own language and the one that I understand the best. When I read the Bible in English, it comes alive to me in a way that no other language manages. I owe virtually all of my spiritual growth and development to reading, studying and listening to the Bible in English. I will forever be in debt to the translators of the AV, the NIV and the NLT and other translations into English.
However, there are two important things that I, and all speakers of this wonderful language, need to remember.
Firstly, English is not better or more important than any other language. It is special to me because it is what I grew up speaking. It is true that English has a measure of dominance internationally, but that is only temporary – just ask any Latin speaker that you can find. If the miracle of Pentecost teaches us anything it is that the good news about Jesus can be transmitted in any and every language. Even, the Aramaic that Jesus spoke and the Greek that the disciples wrote in is no more special than any other language; so lets not give English a place it doesn’t deserve.
The second issue is that we are so used to having all sorts of translations and Bible resources in English that we forget what a wonderful privilege this is. We can read the words of Matthew, Mark et al in our own language. Two thousand years after the events and thousands of miles from where they happened, we can read all about them. Rather than arguing about which three letter acronym is the best translation, we should be thanking God that we have translations that we can read and understand.
God speaks to us in our language! If that doesn’t get you excited on a Monday morning, nothing will!