Some contents of the latest issue of Anvil are now available online (after a pain-free registration process), with essays on translating the Bible, with special reference to the 400th anniversary of the King James’ Version.
The Monarchs and the Message: Reflections on Bible Translation from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-First Century
In this article, Tom Wright, whose own translation of the New Testament was published in 2011, highlights the importance of translation within Christian faith as the message of the universal kingship of the Jewish messiah is communicated to the nations. Exploring the translations of the Reformation era, he sets Tyndale’s translation and the King James Version in their contrasting political contexts before explaining the significance of the word ‘Christ’ and the issues it raises today both for translators wishing to be faithful to the New Testament message and Christians seeking to live out Jesus’ radical definition of ‘lordship’. He concludes, drawing on his own experience, with reflections upon some of the other challenges facing translators today – such as the inevitability of distortion and the tensions that can arise between accuracy of word and tone or flavour – as they seek to convey the Bible’s message to contemporary readers and rulers.
The King James Version and Luther’s Bible Translation
Graham Tomlin here examines perhaps two of the most influential Reformation texts: Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible (1534) and the King James Version (1611). He shows how their different emphases reflect different strands in tension within the Reformation as well as their different historical contexts. For Luther, translation should be idiomatic and so accessible, theological and the work of a faithful translator who has been humbled by God’s grace. His is a translation of immanence and incarnation into his culture. In contrast, the KJV is not concerned to propound a particular theological standpoint but seeks simplicity and the integrity of precise translation of the original languages. It thus preserves the Scripture’s strangeness and trusts the reader with the text’s uncertainties.
Bible Translation and Human Dignity
In this article, Lamin Sanneh explores the revolutionary impact, in various contexts, of translating Scripture into people’s mother tongue. He shows this significant religious, social and cultural event is an expression of Christianity as a translated religion which empowers those who receive the translation and affirms their human dignity. These findings are illustrated from history and more recent mission experience in Kenya, West Africa and Zululand and a sketch is offered of the spread of Bible translation and the social and cultural renewal that has followed.