Friday, December 8, 2023

Book: 40 Questions about Bible Translation


40 Questions About Bible Translation by Mark L. Strauss is another entry in the incredibly useful 40 Questions series from Kregel Academic. The series aim, overall, is to provide essentially a FAQ section on the given Title Topic. Entries include questions about the text of the New Testament, other religions, ministry patterns, and issues in Biblical interpretation. This is a handy series to have on-hand, whether you have it on your shelf or in print. The works are, naturally, all in print, and most are available for Kindle or your Logos Library.

The specific focus for today is the volume on Bible Translation. Now, I should start by being clear that all the ins-and-outs of Bible translation are the pursuit of years, but this is meant to be an introduction and explanation of some of the basic information. Mark L. Strauss, author, is a New Testament scholar and is on the Committee on Bible Translation for the New International Version. His other works include introductory textbooks on the Gospels and works on Biblical interpretation and translation. He is a qualified scholar for this subject. (Unless, of course, you're a partaker of the King James Only view of English Bible translation, but if so, you're not going to like this book.)

First, I would note that about a dozen of the questions and answers are English-specific, so these are not as helpful for non-English speakers. However, the rest of the book is broadly-based and applies to any language. There is value here for understanding missional work that groups like Wycliffe Bible Translators are involved with, and what the challenge is for that work. 

Second, each of the question/answer sections is followed up with comprehension questions. Strauss is a professor, after all, and there's nothing like a good quiz to make sure you got the point. 

The organization of the book moves from broad questions, like "Why do we need Bible translation?" to the final question, the quite specific and thorny, "What is the Controversy in Translating 'Son of God' in Muslim Contexts?," the latter being one you may have heard something about even in mainstream media, though it bears little impact on how you read your Bible in English.

Strauss approaches the entirety of the work from a perspective that respects the Bible as the Word of God, but acknowledges that people's hands have been on it and therefore, some parts of its transmission and translation may be problematic. He does not delve deeply into textual criticism or the more in-depth questions of just what Greek verb tenses are doing, but provides enough initial insight to help the reader understand why you cannot just make a one-to-one word swap to translate. He also provides the best short-form answer on textual criticism I have seen, and one that I will be using next time the question comes up in the church I pastor.

I would definitely put this more in the undergraduate student or deep Bible study participant category than I would in the "just buy copies and give them out at church" category. The information is well-presented, but it does presume some basic working knowledge of New Testament studies. There are places where some help connecting to other materials will be necessary, so a group setting is the ideal usage here. 

And, on a personal aside, we do get the necessary mention of the Venerable Bede on page 205 as well as Caedmon! The chapter on Earliest English Bible translations looks great to me, but I'm partial to that area as my first research paper was on pre-Reformation English Bible translations. So I'm always happy to see these familiar friends and to read scholars restate what I wrote back then, because I like knowing I was right. (it was all footnoted facts, hard to get wrong ;) )

This may be the last book I review here--I'm rethinking my blog and don't really have the traffic to claim I'm worth the freebies--but it is necessary to note Kregel Publications gave me this in exchange for a committed review. Am I positive? I am, because I get to choose the books I review and the publishers, and I've yet to find a bad part of this series. So...main point is that I did get the book free.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Sermon Recap for October 1

 Good morning! Here is yesterday's sermon and the raw video from the Student-Led Service. We're still working on that project--some parts of it will come together better as we advertise it better and perhaps draw a few more folks.

We're starting into James from now until Thanksgiving, though next week's Observance of the Lord's Supper will be a pause on the progress...

Audio Player is here:

StudentLed Raw Video:

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Sermon Addendum for Psalm 40

 So, looking at more of the materials related to Psalm 40, here are a few thoughts:

1. Some translations take "watery" as symbolic for "desolate." CSB is one of those, where they try to translate the meaning here more than the actual terms. That's one of the challenges of translation in sections of Scripture like the Psalms: poetry does not translate literally all that well. Imagery is likely used with meaning behind it, so what do you do with that? 

2. Psalm 40:5 notes an important point about the works of God. There is always more that God has done than what we know. We should emphasize the works of God as noted in Scripture, as these are the ones we know in common and know without error. However, do not assume that the Scripturally recorded events are the only things God has ever done or is doing. We should be willing to listen and examine what is happening so that we can compare it to what we know of God and see if it is His work.

3. Note that for Psalm 40:10 to be true, that David did not conceal God's constant love in the great assembly, David had to confess his sins to the great assembly. We should take from this the need to be open about our sinful behavior and not conceal it, but also to put the focus where it belongs: the grace of God. David's focus shifts to the grace of God. Is your testimony about God or about you?

4. Notice also that David links his troubles with his iniquities. He is not disclaiming responsibility for his problems: he knows the source is judgment for his sins. You don't get out of responsibility just because you get into God's grace. You still have to wrestle with some of the consequences. Including finding some way to repair your relationships here: can you imagine how much David had to work through with his kids, his wives, with Bathsheba, and ultimately with the people of Israel? 

5. The Psalm opens with discussing singing new songs and hymns of praise. I think we lose something we do not sing--and we lose that even if other people sing on our behalf. Singing is a good thing, and it's a long-standing habit of human beings. We should find the right things to sing about. It's also easier to sing together than recite together--you'll find that the times we recite words together, usually they are more rhythmic than normal speech. Why? Closer to singing.

And no, you don't have to hit the right notes. It helps but if we could all ease up on worrying about it, we'd be better off.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Sermon Recap for September 17 2023

 Evening all!

Here is yesterday's sermon as well as the whole video of our student-led service. That project is making progress. Slowly but surely!

Audio Player:


Monday, September 11, 2023

Sermon Recap for September 10 2023

 As an aside, it is so strange to sit here in a church office on the morning of September 11. I was in a church office, a different one, that Tuesday morning. The world we have is greatly shaped by what happened 22 years ago, and even more shaped by our reactions to it. You did not get a choice about what happened that day. You have had 22 years of choices.

On to the sermon

Monday, September 4, 2023

Sermon Recap for September 3 2023

Well, here we are into September already! Seems like just yesterday it was 100 degrees...oh wait, it was. Because we live in the South. And as we all know: there are 4 seasons in the South: Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, Warm Christmas...September marks the transition to Still Summer.

Sermon notes: I decided a few years ago to make every September a month in the Psalms. Slowly, but surely, I'm working from the beginning of the book to the end. I'm not taking on every Psalm but am moving somewhat sequentially through the Psalter.

Friday, September 1, 2023

September 1 2023 Life Thoughts

Since this is a personal blog that, from time-to-time, I point people to and say "You can learn about me by reading over here!," perhaps it's time to do some personal life updates. Besides the obvious willingness to ignore several red squiggles produced by Grammarly, telling me that I should not punctuate the way I have nor make "time to time" into a one-word event by hyphenating, what should you know?

I started this blog a long time ago. And yes, nearly in a galaxy far, far way, because that was in Mississippi. Since then, my family has moved to Southeast Arkansas, East Arkansas, Central Arkansas, and back (again!) to Southeast Arkansas. While that's been happening, my children have gotten 15 years older, my marriage has matured by 15 years, and I've gotten...hopefully 15 years more mature.

Whether or not that's true is, of course, open for discussion. Our oldest child was 7 when I started writing. Well, actually, she was 6. She's now 22 and a college graduate. The youngest is a high school senior.

There's been a lot of change. The thing is, that's the nature of life. Life changes. You can try to minimize the change in your own life, but the world around you is going to bring that change anyway. In 2008, when I started blogging, Blackberries were the big thing in mobile technology: you could tap out emails, etc., and they were high-end. People used Palm Pilots for digital organizers, but only those with enough time and money to learn how to use a digital organizer!

Since then, the iPhone and Android-system phones have altered the mobile landscape. Laptop computers have gotten cheaper, lighter, more powerful, and we've gone from being a family with two computers--the older one for some purposes, the newer for the more important purposes--to a family where everybody's got a laptop. And we've spent less on that than we did on the last new desktop we bought, somewhere around 2008.

Even if you have managed to avoid the change in your personal life, it has swirled around you. Now your bank doesn't really need you to come in--just do it all remotely. You can come in, except for those locations that locked the doors in 2020 and now only let you use the drive-thru, as if they installed sanitizers in the tube system. (Maybe they did, I don't know!) Walmart works differently now. 

The point? Change happens. You can resist it, you can ignore it, but it happens anyway.

The real question is What are you going to do about it?

You can try to get in front of it, but sometimes you look around and realize that you guessed wrong about which way it was going--that you've been so disconnected from the world around you that you missed what changes were happening! Imagine being deeply embedded in the best way to use a Blackberry. Or how awesome you made your MySpace page :)

You can try to resist it, but there comes a time when you just have to buckle down and figure out where you are. Remember when Walmart required you to wait on the only cashier on-duty to check out? Yeah, use that progress to a self-checkout.  You'll get out of there quicker.

You can flow with it, mindfully. Which takes time and effort. But it's worth it. The effort will keep you connected to the people and life around you, rather than having you isolated. You're not meant to live isolated.

Book: 40 Questions about Bible Translation

  40 Questions About Bible Translation  by Mark L. Strauss is another entry in the incredibly useful 40 Questions series  from Kregel Academ...