An Unexpected Consequence

I am about ⅔ through the book by Dave Brunn, One Bible, Many Versions. The more I read, the more I appreciate his approach and how he presents the material. And it hit very close to home in an unexpected way. While he does not formally advocate it, he very much demonstrates humility in this whole process of translating and evaluating translations.

As I teach seminary classes I remind the men that humility is critical in pastoral ministry. That characteristic goes a long way toward opening doors for bringing God’s Word to people in all circumstances. But it extends beyond even local pastoral care.

Humility goes a long way for all who want to evaluate translations; and so I am speaking to myself as the first subject who needs to be reminded of this.

I am humbled by the fact that while I know Greek and Hebrew, the people who are involved in all aspects of translating the Scriptures are experts in their individual fields. The fact that Dr. Micah Carter (HCSB), Dr. Ray Clendenen (HCSB translator/editor), Dave Brunn, Dr. Ernst Wendland (translator in Zambia), Wayne Leman (reviewer of translations, Cherokee, at betterbibles blog) and others have visited this blog is humbling. They have been kind and gracious in their responses to my questions and concerns. Likewise, Rod Jantzen and the team at Baker Publishing (for God’s Word translation) have been very helpful and responsive over the past year. I am humbled by their approach and willingness to read, listen, and write.

A little history

In late 1980, as I was finishing my nine year commitment to the Navy, but couldn’t leave until the summer of 1982 for seminary, I decided to teach myself Greek. I had taken two years of Latin, three years of German before college, and then a one year evening course of Russian while on active duty. So I had a sense of language structure. And I was able to go through Machen’s book at a decent clip, finishing almost a year ahead of our move.

When it came time to move to the seminary, I was asked to take the Greek qualifying exam. As it turned out I could have easily completed and passed the exam. But instead I opted to take the seminary Greek course with Dr. Robert Hoerber (obviously no credit, but did have to pay the tuition). Best decision I ever made. While it could have been an easy class (it was for me), it was far more. As he taught, my grasp of Greek deepened over that year. It wasn’t about passing a test to get out of a class, it was to better learn the language.

Even more, I began to appreciate how Dr. Hoerber exhibited humility in his teaching. He was a world class Greek and Latin scholar, and still helping young(er) men learn and appreciate the importance of Greek for pastoral ministry. Dr. Jonathan Grothe and Dr. Erich Kiehl were scholars yet gentlemen in the best sense of the word. And I am humbled to have been one of their students.

What does this mean?

That is a good Lutheran question! In humility I could go to a false sense of humility and stop the blogging on translations. Or in my case, this has caused me to reevaluate myself and recommit myself to further study of Hebrew and Greek. Not to nitpick translations, but to get a far better feel for those languages. To continue to learn even more about language structures, syntax, linguistics, etc.

Thank you to all for your encouragement in this process. And a special thank you to Dave Brunn for causing me to reflect on this important attitude when examining translations. An unexpected consequence of his writing. But just what I needed. May God grant this verse be true of me today.

This is the Lord’s declaration. I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66:2b HCSB)

Author: exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian

One thought on “An Unexpected Consequence”

  1. Humility–indeed, we (speaking at least for myself) could all use a larger dose of it in our lives and work setting. “Don’t take yourself too seriousely!” was one of the many helpful pieces of advice that Gene Nida gave me over the years. With respect to the task of Bible translation, this is an essential attribute of every member of a translation team. If someone–including the translation consultant!–is too proud to take constructive criticism from fellow members of the team, then that project is bound to face some serious problems sooner or later. Humility is an essential lesson that can only be taught by the Lord working through the Word that we study and seek to communicate (1 Peter 5:5-6), whether via Bible translation in some foreign country or when witnessing to the grace of the Gospel to the neighbor next door.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: