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Sunday, October 30, 2005

What Bible version was he using?

Last week I blogged that the teacher of the Sunday School class Elena and I have started attending (since we moved to Spokane) was using the NRSV and said that it was his version of choice. That teacher was substituting for the regular teacher.

Today the regular teacher was back. I had my Contemporary Parallel New Testament with me in case the regular teacher might use a version other than the NRSV. The 8 versions in it are:
The Message
Our study continued in Acts 18. I listened as our teacher read the passage. I quickly scanned my 8 versions, but the reading was not from one of them. So I pulled the pew Bible NRSV out and checked it. That wasn't the version either. Yet the reading was clear and in contemporary English. I could not figure out which other version it might be.

And then the thought came to me that our teacher might not be using a translation. Perhaps the book he was using was the Greek New Testament and he was directly translating from the Greek, "on the fly." The more I listened throughout the class, the more I suspected this to be the case.

After class the teacher greeted me and thanked me for an email message I had sent him this week. I glanced at the book in his hand and, sure enough, its title was "Greek New Testament." This was my first experience to be in a Sunday School class where the teacher was so proficient in Greek that he taught directly from it, including doing fluent translation on the spot.

One of my hopes for many years has been that I might be able to be part of a church fellowship where more of my spiritual and intellectual needs would be met than they had been in the past when I was giving so much of myself during Bible translation work onsite. I have needed rejuvenation after our many years of translating the Bible on the reservation. God is giving me the "desire of my heart" (Ps. 37:4). I thank him.

I wish I could read Greek as fluently as our teacher, who is one of the religion professors on the college campus where the church is located. My three years of Greek in Bible school were good, but they didn't bring me to the level where I could pick up the Greek and directly read from it. And that probably will not happen now since I have other Bible translation responsibilities in life that do not allow me enough time to get to that level of Greek fluency. But it is special to sit under the teaching ministry of someone who is so fluent in Greek that he was able to keep me going for quite some time trying to figure out which English version he was using. And there was no flaunting of his Greek reading abilities during the class. Our teacher is humble and genuinely concerned about mutual ministry, something he emphasized as he taught us about how Priscilla and Aquilla took Apollos under their wings and taught him about the way of the Lord more clearly.

Oh, in case you are wondering who our teacher is, his name is Jim Edwards and he has just published a book titled Is Jesus the Only Savior? We went to a public bookstore reading for this book this last Tuesday and, again, were glad we could sit under such good teaching.

I think both of our children who attended the Christian college here (the same school my wife attended) had classes under Jim Edwards. And there are other really great teachers at the college also, ones our children have spoken highly of and with whom we have interacted. I thank God for people who have invested their lives in many years of education to minister academically.

Have a good week, everyone. And may we all translate God's Word the best we can this week, whether we do it from Hebrew or Greek to English, some other language, or through our attitudes and actions.

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At Wed Nov 02, 09:55:00 AM, Blogger J. Mark Bertrand said...

I had a similar experience in seminary with a professor who would translate freely from the Greek and even occasionally slip into it. If you've seen the wonderful film The Browning Version, when Albert Finney is reading lines of Aeschylus and translating them, then you'll know what I'm talking about. It was enough to prompt me to carry my Greek NT around and look at it while he was talking, even though it was all Greek to me!


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