I'll be back home late tomorrow night. My wife and I will be helping our nephew celebrate his graduation from the Air Force Academy. V.P. Dick Cheney will be the speaker.
Category: Bible translation
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SECTION VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.We are to "read and search" the Scriptures. And "they are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come..." What is the vulgar language of a nation? At the time the Confession was written, "vulgar language" referred to the common language spoken by the people of nation. It is not a "dumbed down" language, but it is language which is understood and spoken in common. Into what form of English would the Reformers say the Scriptures should be translated if they came to the English-speaking people for the first time today? The clear answer from the Confession is "the vulgar [common] language." It is not a language spoken only by the clergy. It is not a language of an elite educated class. It is not a language of a previous period of language history, not even that of beautiful, but past, classical literature. No, it is the common language of the people, with its contemporary beauty of good literary quality that is accessible in common by speakers of a language. Because the Reformers emphasized integration of spirit and mind, I have no doubt that they would have upheld the idea that the translation of the Scriptures into the vernacular should have literary beauty in the vulgar (common) languge, including some way of maintaining powerful literary images which exist in the original biblical source texts. But I also have no doubt that the Reformers would have insisted that however the translation was done into vulgar languages, it should not include language which could not be understood by all speakers of a language, since, by definition, those speakers are included in the group who speak a "vulgar," that is, common language.
Please be in prayer for the ESV Translation Oversight Committee (TOC), which will be meeting May 31 - June 4, 2005, to consider suggestions that have been made concerning the ESV text. The potential revisions are mostly minor punctuation and style issues.Pray for spiritual unity for the committee. Pray for wisdom as they consider revision suggestions. Pray that they will set a good course for improving the ESV without losing the qualities which have endeared this translation to its users. Above all, pray that the Lord will receive glory from the committee's deliberations.
At this time, the agenda for the meeting is full with items that have been under consideration over the past three years.
We have been collecting feedback ever since the ESV was first published in October 2001, and the TOC will be working through much of this feedback at the meeting. We appreciate everyone who has taken the time to write to us.
She says that rather than interpreting the Bible through the lens of the world, we need to interpret the world through the lens of our faith. That seems pretty self-evident on the surface, but it comes into play when we try to contextualize the message. I am not arguing that we not contextualize, but anytime we adapt the message to the cultural there is a sense in which we are letting the culture become our interpretive grid. She suggests that, rather than trying to put the Bible in the language of the world, we try to interpret the world in the language of the Bible.There is something that is good and right here, but there is also something that can, I think, lead us astray which is not at all the intention of the original author. I have heard this idea expressed before, and it does sound good, and there is truth to it, but the stumbling block, in my opinion, is that "grace, faith and redemption" are not really concepts, but, rather, English words referring to biblical concepts. It is possible to find English words which refer to biblical concepts which communicate more accurately and more clearly to those who do not have a biblical worldview than do the words which we who are accustomed to the language of the church (what might be meant by "the language of faith") use.
This is not an easy formulaic thing. It may be easier said than done, because there is the matter of intelligibility. The Biblical message must be intelligible to the hearers. But, she suggests, and I think rightly so that the Biblical message is not as foreign to the culture as we might think. If the world doesn't understand what grace, faith and redemption are, we don't need so much to find new words to explain the concepts to the world, but simply teach the world what the concepts mean. Good thoughts!!
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This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a divisve person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.Version 2:
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.Version 3:
These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone. Do not get involved in foolish discussions about long lists of ancestors or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These kinds of things are useless and a waste of time. If anyone is causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with that person. For people like that have turned away from the truth. They are sinning, and they condemn themselves.Version 4:
The word is trustworthy, and I deliberately will you to consent concerning these things, in order that you might consider beautiful works to preside over those having believed by God. These are the beautiful things, and beneficial to humanity. Shun moronic inquiries, genealogies, squabbling, attitudes, and lawyers: for they are disastrous and futile. After the first and second warning excuse an individual who is a sectarian, having discovered that one such as this has been skewed, and deviates, being automatically judged against.
"Before four notches and seven years, our fathers obtained more still after this continent a new nation: understood started in freedom and the business that all the men comparable are provided. We take part now in a large civil war and examine, if this nation or a nation included thus and if started, to support a long time can. We run up against a large battle field of this war. We came to use part of this field as places stationary finale for which which gave their lives here which could live this nation. It is suitable and correct together that us should do that. But, in a greater direction, we cannot be able to begin to us not consecrate, we cannot this ground sanctify. The courageous men, the lives and dead which fought here, must consecrated add or remove far on our bad energy. The world will of little notices it remembers still a long time, which we say here, but it cannot never forgets, which it here. It be for we the life the work incomplete being start rather here that they which it fight here, credit him its to we be so splendid advanced until now present rather with a try before we, that honour, largely remain we use here take dead increase devotion that with a cause for which them give last fully the measurement of devotion that we repair here high that that must have not death futile die in that nation, under a god, must have again the birth of freedom, and that the government of a person, for a person, must not die from the earth."Version 2:
"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."Which version sounds like better English to you?
From the time I was a small child I have wanted to be a missionary. I grew up with Bible stories and teaching in Sunday School and expository Bible preaching in church sermons. I memorized hundreds of verses from the Bible and can still remember many of them. My church culture has centered around the Bible. The Bible school I attended has its motto carved on its entrance wall, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15), and "word of truth" is interpreted only to mean the Bible. I have heard many challenges that we should be "people of the Word." We have often been told, "Get into the Word," and "Stay in the Word." Today I am a missionary Bible translator. I have been translating for a Native American tribe since 1975, and continue to feel this is where God wants me to work for him. It is good work. And my desire to help others hear and understand God's written Word is just as strong as ever.
Yet, sometimes I wonder if those of us from such strong "Bible backgrounds" have our highest priorities wrong. Sometimes I wonder if it is more important for us to know the written Word than it is for us to know the Living Word, of whom the written Word speaks.
I honestly wonder if sometimes it is more important for us to spend time with the book (perhaps even worship the Book) more than we do its Maker. I hear so much argumentation about the words of the Bible, which version is the right one to read, and similar things which focus on the form in which written revelation came, that I wonder if we miss the Message while trying so hard to get its words right. Mind you, I'm just as concerned about the words, because I have to translate them, and I always want to translate them accurately. But, could it be that we sometimes become so focused upon the written words that we miss its overall message for our lives? Could it be that we fall into some of the same well-meaning traps into which the Pharisees of Jesus' time did? I think they sincerely wanted to please God? But they had lost the core of what it meant to be pleasing to God.
It seems to me that much of our desire to be "people of the Book" is good, but because we are human, and that means being fallible, we allow the good focus upon the written Word to become something, over time, that misses the priority focus of our lives, which should be to honor God and share the Good News with others that he has a free gift, a way for humans to be acceptable to him.
It seems to me that when we focus upon "the Word" we so often absorb it cognitively (with our minds) rather than volitionally (with our wills). "Learning the Word" becomes an end in itself. And what do we do when we "learn the Word"? We study its major and minor themes. We often locate proof texts to support "our side" in some theological or political argument. We memorize. We learn the meaning of important theological terms in the Bible. We learn how to explain the meaning of those words to those who don't understand them. Sometimes we are honest enough with ourselves to go all the way with the process of interpreting the Bible and get to the final step of personal application. But much of the time we stop before then and feel that we have been "in the Word" and that that exercise makes us better Christians. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus were speaking to us today as he did to people of his time he might tell us, "You have the Scriptures. You love them. You regularly search these Scriptures. They tell about me. They tell you how to believe in me, rather than in your own ways of earning God's acceptance" (John 5:39).
Could it be that our focus upon the "words" of the Bible is sometimes an unconscious effort on our part not to let those words convict us of needed changes in our behavior and attitudes? Could it be that some of us who prefer "literally accurate" versions of the Bible do so because we can continue studying, trying to figure out what those "literal" words mean in terms of words that we speak ordinarily? Can it be that we are uncomfortable with translations of the Bible which use grammar and vocabulary closer to the language we speak everyday because those translations are so understandable to us? With them we no longer have to "study the Word" to determine what it means, but instead have to simply listen, to come under its spotlight aimed at us by the Holy Spirit who inspired that Word? We may smile at what some pastors have said when it was suggested that they preach from a more understandable version of the Bible, "But then what would I have to preach about?" But we need to ask ourselves if there is any of this same attitude toward the Bible in ourselves. The truth is that there is plenty to study and preach about from the Bible even from translations which speak clearly in the vernacular (including the English vernacular today).
Now, I'm not at all saying that the Bible is perfectly easy to understand, no matter what dialect of a language it is translated in. There are parts of the Bible which may always be difficult for us to understand because our current situation is so far removed from the original context to which a particular part of the Bible was addressed. We do not understand all the context-specific details of some parts of the Bible. But the majority of the Bible really is meant to be well understood, or at least understood well enough for us to respond and obey. For it was written in the vernacular, everyday language, meant to be understood by everyday people.
Early in our career of translating the Bible for Native Americans, one young man told us, "We already knew about God before the missionaries came. Our religion is a way of life. The missionaries came and told us we needed to change our religion. But the missionaries couldn't even remember everything about their religion. They had to keep looking in a book to remember." We listened graciously. I think there was something important for us to hear. We don't agree that the missionaries were using the Bible because they couldn't remember. But we did need to hear that we cannot simply be people of the Book, if it doesn't seem to others that our beliefs affect our entire lives. We must properly follow our missionary predecessors, trying to communicate God's written revelation to others, as Paul did at Athens (Acts 17:15-34), telling the Athenians about the One who can fulfill their deepest spiritual longings.
But I still wonder if we sometimes concentrate so much on the book that we miss translating its message into life for people who long to live life as God meant it, life in all its fullness (John 10:10).
And for those of us who translate the Bible, how are we people of the Book? Do we view translation of the Book as an end in itself? Does translating for Bibleless tribes equate with "giving them the Word"? This is a good question, one we should spend some time thinking about. It seems to me that translation is only part of giving others the Word. If we do not also help them have the tools needed to translate that Word into life, then it is not a complete translation process.
What are we doing with the Book? Are we trying to get others to be people of the Book, as we are, or are we trying to introduce them to the Living Word, first of all, that Living Word who then introduces us to his written word so that we not only have his presence in our lives, but also his words of life, and comfort, and conviction and change.
What does it really mean to be people of the Book?
40 tips for proper English
1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
3. Employ the vernacular.
4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
6. Remember to never split an infinitive.
7. Contractions aren't necessary.
8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
9. One should never generalize.
10. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
11. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
12. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
13. Be more or less specific.
14. Understatement is always best.
15. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
16. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
17. The passive voice is to be avoided.
18. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
19. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
20. Who needs rhetorical questions?
21. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
22. Don't never use a double negation.
23. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with point
24. Do not put statements in the negative form.
25. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
26. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
27. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
28. A writer must not shift your point of view.
29. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
30. Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.
31. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
32. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
33. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
34. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
35. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
36. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
37. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
38. Always pick on the correct idiom.
39. The adverb always follows the verb.
40. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; they're old hat; seek viable alternatives.