Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Bible translation’

Language from Genesis to Revelation

Hintawa man to ngadan nu? 
Como se llama usted? 
Ano ang pangalan mo? 
What is your name? 

So many languages and so many ways of saying things!  Languages both unify and divide people, as we see from Genesis to the end of history described in the book of Revelation.

1.  At the tower of Babel, the single language that had unified the whole earth was suddenly split into many, giving people no alternative but to obey God’s command to inhabit the entire globe.

2. Thousands of years later in Jerusalem, Jews who had adopted the languages of many other countries were startled to hear God’s message, each in their own language.

3.  Since Jesus returned to heaven, His disciples have carried his message to the far corners of the globe, to thousands of language communities.  However, there are still 1919 languages that do not have any part of that message.  People are still waiting to hear!

4.  John the apostle saw the final outcome of this linguistic diversity.  Around the throne of God in heaven, speakers of every language will be joyfully united again with one common purpose:

…a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands.  And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”  (Rev 7:9-10)

I suspect that we’ll all understand one another’s languages as we blend them in that great cry of victory and praise to our Maker and Redeemer.

God’s Kingdom—a place, people or event?

What do you suppose a person with no Bible knowledge might envision when hearing the phrase, “Seek the Kingdom of God.”  Maybe a knight on a white horse setting forth on a noble quest to find the ideal land where God rules in a splendid castle?  People who have been around the Bible and church have a general idea of what this phrase is supposed to mean, but isn’t there a way to say this more clearly?

In English dictionaries, the first sense of “kingdom” is a geographical area over which a king or queen rules.  And some dictionaries include the people who live there. 

So what is the Kingdom of God (or of heaven, which means the same thing)?  You may be surprised to realize that seldom, if ever, does it refer to a place.  Depending on the context, “kingdom of God/heaven” in the Bible refers either to
     a) the subjects of the King (people), or
     b) the rule of the King (an event), or His reign as we’d more naturally say. 

What if our Bibles had “reign” in the verses that speak of the latter, such as Luke 8:1:  “…proclaiming the Good News of the reigning of God.”  And where it refers to the subjects of the kingdom, what if our Bibles made that clear as well, such as in John 3:3:  “unless a person is born again, he cannot be part of that/those over which/whom God reigns.”  This might sound a bit awkward in English, but it’s how languages work in the country where we work.  And it’s accomplished by just changing the prefix on the word!  So a translator who is doing his/her job needs to study carefully to see what aspect of God’s rule is in focus each time it’s mentioned, and use the correct prefix.  And the words come to life! 

By the way, here’s a worthwhile post I read today about the reign of God in our lives:





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