Monday, July 17, 2023

The Bible and Translation

There are two ways of bridging the grammatical gap between us and the Bible. The Reformers sought to revive the original languages of the Bible. They believed that only grammatical interpretation based on the original languages fully honors the inspiration of Scripture. On the other hand, Reformers like Luther also insisted that if it is not possible to learn the original languages, believers need to rely on those who do know these languages and who have translated the Bible into their mother tongue.

Suppose you picked up a copy of the Hawaiian Pidgin Bible and noticed these words in 1 Timothy:

"God, he da King foeva. He no can mahke."

If you do not know Pidgin and want to understand what these words mean, you have two choices. One choice is to learn Pidgin. The other is to ask someone who knows Pidgin to translate the verse for you. Either choice will lead you to understand what is being said in 1 Tim. 1:17. 

This means, then, that even when we can't learn the biblical languages, it's still possible to study the Bible. Ideally, we will want to get as close to the originals as possible in our understanding of Scripture. This was the burden of the Reformers. But close attention to principles of grammatical interpretation is still possible even if we lack a reading knowledge of the original languages. 

There is nothing wrong with, and everything right with, availing ourselves of commentators and leaders who know Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.