Last week in my Dynamic Learning Experiences class, we stumbled into a discussion of the Doctrine of Preservation (that is, preservation of a reliable form of the Bible into our present day cultural context). All this was generated from a review we were doing of a chapter in Brian Godawa’s book: Word Pictures. Godawa is challenging us to consider the tension and balance between “proposition” and “imagery” in the biblical text; moreover, to consider how that should influence our study and communication of God’s Word today.
Well, as follow up to that discussion, I came across two recently posted articles about the issues of preservation and communication of the Bible on the Sharper Iron website. The articles are by Bible translation specialist, P. Hantz Bernard, director of Bibles International. You can read both articles here:
The Perspicuity of Scripture as Applied to Bible Translation, Part 1
The Perspicuity of Scripture as Applied to Bible Translation, Part 2
Bernard offers some helpful perspective to this issue, here is a taste of what he has to say:
. . . whenever the Scriptures are translated into a new language, preservation is newly active. And whenever the Scriptures are studied, preached, or translated, understandability is also in operation. Both preservation and understandability of the Bible are acts of “fairness” from God. It would not be equitable that God would reveal His Word, render it binding upon all men, and then not make it available; or that He would make it available and not make it understandable.
. . . Though preserved, the Scriptures would be irrelevant if they could not be used in a practical way. God’s purpose in speaking to men is that men might be fit and complete as God is complete (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Matthew 5:48). God has done everything necessary for man to be transformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). And He presented His perfect plan in an understandable manner for men to comprehend it. That is what is called the doctrine of perspicuity or clarity of Scripture: God communicated to be understood!
It can be put this way: All things being accounted for, the Scriptures are understandable. And as such, they are translatable. Translating the Scriptures is basically an act of transferring meaning from the texts of the Bible into a vernacular. Hence, the translator tries to comprehend the linguistic and biblical (theological) components of the Scriptures to transfer them accurately into another language. In turn, the reader understands what God intended to communicate.
3 John 8