Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank You Bible Translators

A few days ago I began thinking about bible translation. The more I pondered it, the more thankful I became toward bible translators.

I'm basically a one-language speaker.  I can spout a few Spanish phrases, but I'm hardly functional.  Although we lived in India for a few months, my Hindi never progressed beyond a very basic level; I've since lost much of it.

Regarding the biblical languages, my Hebrew is currently pathetic and my Greek is not what I'd like it to be (sorry Dr. Black).  I'm still working at it, but it is a sort of one step forward, one step back process.

Like most of you I'm very dependent upon the work of bible translators. Having taken a few classes that required a good deal of translation work from Hebrew and Greek into English, I have a glimpse of just how difficult the effort can be.  It's one thing to put together a wooden, ultra-literal, word-for-word type translation. It's something altogether different to translate in such a way that brings out the truth, clarity, and beauty of the scriptures. It's both a science and an art.

I'm thankful to Jerome for translating the bible into Latin.  I'm thankful to men of the Reformation who went back to the original languages.  I'm thankful to Luther for translating the New Testament into German.  I'm exceedingly grateful, as an English speaker, to men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Coverdale for their work on the English bible.

This being the 400 year anniversary of the King James Bible, I'm grateful to the men who worked to put that great translation together.

None of the above men are perfect. No translation is perfect. Nonetheless, I'm thankful for their great efforts.

As English speakers, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to bible translations. Just think of all the good translations we read from: KJV, NKJV, ESV, ISV, NASB, NLT, NRSV, NIV, HCSB, etc. Most languages have no where near that many solid translations.

Some languages have never had even one good translation of the bible. Since the spread of the gospel is connected to bible translation work, I'm thankful for those who still toil in these labors. Groups such as Wycliffe Bible Translators are unsung heroes in the world missions effort.

Above all, I'm thankful to God for speaking to us in written form that has been preserved and passed down to us this many years later.  I'm grateful that God continually raises up and gifts men and women who are able to produce increasingly better translations.

Thank you - all of you - who have been involved in these efforts.  The rest of us are in your debt.


Richard Swartz said...

I saw a video recently of a village receiving in a box, their first bibles. They were in so much anticipation over receiving the word of God, they could not wait.

When they finally received the bibles, there was much rejoicing in that village. They were already talking about how they were going to have their children read the bible as well.

And to think, English speakers debate over translations. I'd hate to see these new bibles get scrutinized in the same spirit as our English bibles.

I also extend my thanks.

God bless, Richard

Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Amen! I too have many versions and am so grateful. I didn't know it was the 400th anniversary. Cool!

Eric said...


I think I saw that same video. Good stuff.

We are so blessed with all our translations. Now we have to live it out.

Eric said...


So many of our modern versions have been positively shaped by the KJV that we should be thankful for it - even if we don't read it very often (like me). It came out in 1611, so this marks 400 years.