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Feb 1 - Translating the Bible

Updated: Feb 2


Today we remember the life and work of Erasmus the Dutch priest and 'Prince amongst Humanists'. This is the day in 1516 he dedicated his translation of the New Testament to Pope Leo X. This allows us to briefly explore the history of translating the Bible, from the first Jewish attempt to translate the first books by a community of scholars ('The Septuagint') - to St Jerome's attempt to produce an authoritative Latin translation (the Vulgate).


Today, Erasmus produces one of the first authorised attempts to correct errors that had crept into copies of the Vulgate. How this act of translating became a matter of life and death during the Reformation, Erasmus's relationship with Martin Luther on one hand, and various monasteries on the other? Was this the falling of small stones that lead to the avalanche of the Reformation?


The pod is a little longer than usual - but there is a lot of important stuff to discover! Below is a reflection on holding on to our translations lightly....




Reflection (not in pod) - holding on to our translations lightly


John Calvin famously described scripture as a nose of wax, because "it can be formed into all shapes". If you are using scripture as the sole locus of authority, then this takes on even greater significance. Maybe the first step is one of humility in acknowledging that you can use the Bible to justify many, many differing and opposing positions. Then a commitment to never stop learning about what is being discovered about the Bible, the different literary genres it encompasses, the different weight of meaning or truth one can reasonably associate with different parts.


The recent 'Bible Project' is an excellent example of the use of visual storytelling to deepen love and knowledge of scriptures. Produced by two friends Tim Mackie ( who has a deep love and understanding of the Bible) and Jonathan Collins (a talented digital visual storyteller) they have over 150 videos and 200 podcasts, which care accessible on different platforms - a website, an App, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. They have a large outreach over many different countries (A bit like this enterprise...... one can only dream!) It seems they met studying together in Portland Oregon, and have done a great service.... Thanks Guys!