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Tending the Field of God’s Word Responsibly

The translator is God’s voice to the Bibleless. What does this mean? It means that in the translator, God has placed a passion for a clear and understandable translation of the Word, or parts of the Word and is using the translator to reach the Bibleless community.

The Lord has placed this desire within men and women and He has gifted them to work in the field of Bible translation. One of the key aspects of ethical Bible translation is taking moral and social responsibility for their translation decisions. How can the translator keep being the clear voice, calling out to the unreached multitude?


Within themselves, the translator needs to have a good understanding of the moral precepts of God. The translator maintains their own relationship with God and understands the big picture.


A parallel occurs within the New Testament scriptures. The prophet John the Baptist called out the crowds that they should prepare for the coming of the Messiah. He was God’s messenger, but He understood that He was part of a plan much greater than He could have conceived of.


Are we as translators like John the Baptist, living with understanding of our calling and responsibility? Do we respect the work to which He has called us?


Responsibility within the field of ethics itself means the translator takes ownership of their work. It means correcting and understanding mistakes that have been made during and after the process. It means aligning their own world view with the principles found in scripture, and tapping into the Godly wisdom needed to carry out the complex task of translating in every decision that is made. The translator must realize that their translation decisions affect many people in the community in which they are working.


When we translate, we are not working for ourselves. We are each laboring on the land that others will reap the fruit of. In this sense, translators need to be diligent and responsible workers, everyone farming their own piece of land that will one day become fruitful and able to be used and benefit others.


The “land” of the Bible translation process is a “field” of personal and social responsibility that requires careful nurture, wisdom and kindness to be sown as the seed which will reap a bountiful and beautiful harvest in due time.


Galatians 6:9, NIV: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."


--- This Article was submitted as a staff contribution to The Word For The World Asia by Noel Bradford*, write to us for a chance to have your article featured as well ---

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