“Sic enim Deus dilexit mundum, ut Filium suum unigenitum daret: ut omnis, qui credit in eum, non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam.” JOANNEM 3, 16.
As you probably guessed from picking out a few familiar words or the reference, that verse is John 3:16 from the Latin Vulgate. Jerome, who became a leader in the Church was born circa (sometime around) 340 and educated in Rome. He translated the Bible into Latin and it is his translation that is known as the Vulgate. This Latin translation held sway in the Western church for over a millennium. But the language died much more quickly; the Roman Empire fell and only scholars remembered how to read Latin. It did remain the universal scholarly language, but few others could read or speak it. It wasn’t until the late 1300s that the first English translation was made by John Wycliffe! His criticisms of the Church caused him to be labeled an arch-heretic, and his writings and followers to be stamped out. But Wycliffe is known today as one of the morning stars of the Reformation. Almost two hundred years later William Tyndale took up the mantle to translate God’s Holy Word into English. In 1525 his translation of the New Testament from the original Greek into English was published in Germany and smuggled into England. He continued to work and translated parts of the Old Testament from the Hebrew before the authorities caught him and he died a martyr’s death in Brussels.
Every time you take up and read your Bible, breathe a word of thanks to God for those who sacrificed and labored to translate God’s Word into your native language. And continue to pray for those today who are working long and hard to bring the God’s Holy Book to the many people groups who do not yet have any part of it in their own language. The vision of Wycliffe Bible Translators is “God’s Word, accessible to all people in the language of their heart.” And their website goes on to state that:
Today about 180 million people do not have any Scripture in their language. Wycliffe’s vision is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language they understand best
Remember that we are partnering in this important mission work through our support and prayers for the Campbells (Carl and Jody spent years with a tribe in Papua New Guinea laying the groundwork for and doing the translation work), the Conroys (Dennis interacts with the translators and keyboards their translations to prepare them for printing), and the Meehans (Al works for Wycliffe in Crisis Management). Rejoice and Praise God along with Dennis and Rhonda and many others as the Dedication Celebration was just last month for the Tol New Testament! Pray and don’t forget to keep on praying for Carl as he continues his Yade Translation Work without Jody (who went home to the Lord this past August). In a prayer letter several days after her death, Carl wrote the following: “A few days before she died she expressed to Jody’s sister her concern about who was going to continue the Yade Translation Work in PNG after she was gone. Her sister told her that I, Carl, would continue and I know our Yade co-workers will also Her heart always has been with seeing the Yade people come to faith and grow in their knowledge of the Lord by having God’s Word in their own language. For that reason in lieu of flowers a special memorial account is being set up in Papua New Guinea to help continue the Yade Translation Work.” For more information on how to give to that account, please contact Barbara Reed, secretary of the Missions Committee.
Using a good translation that is in your native language is so very important for Bible study, but as you are reading through the Bible in 2014 don’t be afraid to get stretched! Especially with the prevailing technology, finding the Bible in a different language is very easy. If you’ve studied another language, try doing some of your reading in it, whether it’s French or German or Spanish or whatever. You will find it heartwarming as you see and hear how God’s Word sounds in a different tongue. And if you did not grow up using the King James Version, then try an older translation, whether it be the KJV or the Geneva Bible. Your mind will be exercised and you may learn more by having to work a bit harder to understand what you’ve read.
There are so many English translations that we cannot say that the Bible is hidden from us. But is God’s Word hidden in us? Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (NIV) When we memorize Scripture then no one can take it from us! And as we hide it in our hearts, the Holy Spirit can then bring it to our mind when we need it most. Linda Karner, one of our missionaries who is teaching in Japan, calls this, in her latest prayer letter, “Creating a Treasure Trove for the Future.” Let me close by quoting from it (and encouraging you to read our missionaries’ monthly prayer letters yourselves!):
I began growing in Christ as part of a para-church organization that emphasized Scripture memory. They not only encouraged us to do it, but also had a systematic approach that would enable us to actually remember the verses we learned. Storing up God’s Word in my heart has benefitted me in so many ways during my life, that I naturally want it for my students as well.
Before we went into our book discussion, one of the Japanese boys recited Galatians 2:20,21 to me. I let the students decide which language they want to memorize Scripture in, so I found myself following along in Japanese. But following along that way forced me to concentrate on the verse differently, and I was so blessed hearing him recite it. What a great verse!!
Amen and God bless,