We’re thinking about the Bible on God52 at the moment, as you’ll find if you read this week’s challenge. In this guest blog, Wycliffe UK’s Eddie Arthur encourages us to consider what our view on the best Bible translation says about us.
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.
Just imagine trying to plant a church or to help Christians grow without being able to open a Bible and show people what God was saying to them. How about your own Christian life? How would you get along if you didn’t have a Bible or if you had to read it in French or Spanish?
But it goes deeper than this. Think about what it must mean to have a language that is so obscure that even God doesn’t seem to speak it. The people who don’t have a Bible in their language are among the most marginalised in the world. If there is Bible, there is probably no other literature either; nothing written down. If you don’t have a Bible in your language, your educational and political options will be limited and child mortality rates will be higher.
Years ago, it was Christians who pioneered education in the UK; so that everyone could read the Bible. This story is being repeated around the world today as Bible translators and others reach out to the most marginalised.
Eddie Arthur is the Executive Director of Wycliffe UK. Follow him on Twitter @Kouya, or find out more about Wycliffe at www.wycliffe.org.uk