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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

1 Corinthians 13 for the Bible translator

by Wayne Leman and Ellis Deibler,
based on the New Living Translation
first posted Valentine's Day, February 14, 2001

1. If I could speak any language of heaven or the 6,000 languages on earth, but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I mastered exegesis so that my Bible translation was perfectly accurate, and mastered communication so that others understood the meaning perfectly, but didn't love others, my mastery would be worth nothing unless I loved others. 2. If I had the right eschatology and was right in all other areas of doctrine, but didn't love others, none of my doctrinal correctness would be of any real value. And if I had such trust in God that I could tackle a difficult translation passage and know that we would translate it accurately, communicatively, and quickly, but didn't love others, that faith would be worth nothing. If I received praise for translating meaningfully, but didn't love others, none of my efforts to translate would be worth anything. 3. If I translated so that everyone, rich, poor, highly educated, and uneducated, complementarians, and egalitarians, liked the language in my translation, and if I suffered burnout from working so hard at the translation desk that I could tell our suppporters about how much I was doing for God, yet if I did not love others, pleasing different audiences with my translation and burning out for God would have no value whatsoever. No matter how committed I am to helping translate the Word of God for thousands of Bibleless groups around the world, if I don't love others, as well, that commitment is worth nothing. 4. Instead, if I am loving, I will be patient and kind. I will not be jealous. I won't boast. I won't be proud about myself or how hard I am working for God. 5. If I truly love others, I won't be rude to them. I won't demand my own way. I won't tell others that my method of translating is the only right way and theirs is wrong. If I love others I won't get irritated with them. I won't even keep track of all the times others have wronged me. 6. If I love others, I will feel sad about injustices, but I will be glad whenever the truth wins out. 7. If I truly love others, I will never give up, no matter how difficult the work is and no matter how trying some of my interpersonal relationships with my colleagues are. I will keep trusting God even when translation progress has slowed to a near standstill. I will consistently expect what God has promised, and I will make it through every difficult situation. 8. We will go on loving others forever, but we will not need Bible translations forever. Some day we will all understand each other perfectly, no matter what language we speak. 9. Right now, even though we have so much training to make the best translations possible, we still don't know everything, and we aren't always right. 10. But when we find out in heaven what the perfect translation would be, I won't need my linguistic or exegetical skills anymore. In fact, they will disappear and I will be left with what can last forever, whatever was done because I loved others. 11. It's like this: when I was a child, I acted like a child. I thought that the way I understood the Bible was the only right way. But when I grew up, I put away such childish attitudes. 12. Even though I do not like to admit it, now I do not understand how to translate perfectly, but some day, when I myself am translated to heaven, I will understand everything perfectly and completely, just as God knows me now. 13. There are three things that will last forever, trusting in God, consistently expecting what he has promised, and loving others, but the most important of these is loving others.


At Tue Oct 16, 11:06:00 PM, Blogger Bob MacDonald said...


At Tue Oct 16, 11:52:00 PM, Blogger Kevin A. Sam said...

That was just beautiful. I really loved that. It helped put bible translations and all our human works into perspective for me. I thank and praise God that love is more important than all the good works and gifts that God has given us.

At Wed Oct 17, 05:18:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellis is a great teacher. I really enjoyed hiking Mt. Rainier with him and his wife and a group of students in '84.

At Wed Oct 17, 07:58:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Bob asked:


Oh, they would get a customized translation, also, Bob!

Should I go into business?


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