The worldwide Bible translation movement has rapidly grown in tandem with the expansion of the global Church. It involves a multifaceted and multinational group of clergy and lay people from across all types of churches who work together to see a gospel understood by everyone, and a God that is at home in every culture.
The role of translation is a distinct characteristic in Christian faith. According to Lamin Sanneh, unlike other world religions which maintain a sacred tongue of transmission, translation is the original vernacular of Christianity. Andrew Walls takes this further noting that in the incarnation, God translates himself into humanity, and this gives rise to subsequent translations.
For example, we see the holy language of translation appear prominently at the birth of the church in Acts 2 when the Jerusalem crowd reports hearing the “wonderful things God has done” (v. 11, NTL) in their own languages. Then Holy Spirit–inspired gospel writers translate the very words of Jesus from Aramaic into Koine Greek,= And the God who translated himself into flesh continues to use translation as a means to dwell or tabernacle with more and more peoples across the whole earth.
I encourage you to explore the articles in this edition of EMQ which delve into the global Bible translation movement. Missionaries, church leaders, and other staff working for Bible translation agencies will give you a view of where they find inspiration and where they continue to wrestle. And because language and scriptures are so critical to cross-cultural mission, I believe you’ll find overlap with your own areas of ministry. Finally, don’t miss the articles at the end of the edition which look at orality, multicultural teams, and global mobilization.