Who is translating our Bibles?

This afternoon I joined other language students in the Special Collections section of the library. We were meeting for a special 2-part seminar on ancient biblical texts. As I entered the meeting room, I was surprised to find a rolled up parchment and a large selection from a leather Torah. In front of me also lay several biblical manuscripts, one possibly worth a million dollars, all uncased, and available to touch. I was even more surprised, but quite delighted to hear our professor encourage us to touch these ancient manuscripts and feel the material from which they were made. Our professor encouraged us to consider the hands that have touched and those that produced the texts and to see the life story of each document.

As I sat there listening to this expert in New Testament texts and biblical languages, I was overwhelmed with the responsibility we have to preserve Koine Greek and Biblical Hebrew. Over the past week and a half of studying Koine Greek at an intensive level, I have a greater appreciation for the importance of the preservation and study of the language as well as for the continued search and investment into these manuscripts. If the only thing that we pass on to our children is our English (or German, or Spanish, or....) translation of the Bible then we loose the depth of meaning and the possibility of better and more improved translations of the Word.

Which this then leads to another thought or question for me to ponder over the next three years of study at the University: what about Scripture is inspired? Is it the very original manuscripts, for which we don't have access? Is it the first time a story was verbally passed on? Are the changes in our language that we then use to interpret and translate part of inspiration? Is both the NIV and the NKJV inspired at the same time? Does the inspiration of Scripture relate to the word for word translation, the concept for concept translation, or something that happens when a Spirit-filled believer opens the text and reads the words, whatever they may be, that has been placed before him/her? And does it really matter how you answer this question, as long as you recognize that God is involved in the process some how, that God is the ultimate author of The Book, and that Truth in all its fullness is contained within its pages?

One last thought to consider, relating back to the importance of preserving and passing on an understanding of Koine Greek: who do we want to be the one's to do this? Secular theologians? A specific denomination? Classical philosophers? Pastors? A combination of people from various walks of life and backgrounds? How do we insure that the language is preserved and that the text is translated fairly without one group taking a primary lead as they interpret, not just translate, Scripture through their cultural and theological lense?

Until next time, I'm back to studying Greek.


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