Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: A Good Example for Translators

For the last few months, I’ve been reading Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ series of sermons on Ephesians – a wonderful book indeed. The topic of this morning’s sermon was “The Council of His Own Will” and is an exposition of (rather introduction to) Ephesians 1:11-14:

“1:11 In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will 1:12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. 1:13 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) – when you believed in Christ – you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, 1:14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory” (NET Bible).

Lloyd-Jones was well aware of the problems Bible passages can create for Christians - indeed each school of theology has to deal with what appears (at least on the surface) to be biblical contradictions of its basic tenets. Ephesians 1 is of no exception, particularly to those outside the “Reformed” camp.

As part of his introduction, Lloyd-Jones highlights several important points one ought to bear in mind (and act upon) if one would like to have a proper understanding of God’s revelation in Scripture. I summarise Martyn's points in the following imperatives:

1. Watch your prejudice;
2. Submit your mind to the Scriptures; and
3. Be careful of philosophising.

I believe it is imperative that Bible translators and consultants always bear these points in mind. One must be careful not to make a translation “fit” into one’s particular brand of theology one’s preferred worldview or whatever values, attitudes and thinking (on whatever subject) one is inclined to ascribe credence. Sure: One cannot avoid coming to Scripture neutrally, nevertheless, one can keep oneself in check and be glad to conform one’s thinking to divine revelation – though it can hurt.

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