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Christianity seems to me to embrace translation of its scriptural writings far more than other religions, and to give such translations nearly equal weight with the approximations of the original manuscripts based on surviving texts and textual analysis.

Is this actually the case? If so, why is Christianity so friendly to scriptural translation?


(Christianity's emphasis on proselytizing ("make disciples of all nations") and de-emphasis of traditional cultural exclusion and conversion ["neither Jew nor Gentile"] are factors. The adoption of Greek scriptures requiring understanding of two languages [plus a minimal amount of Aramaic] may also have made translation more attractive. An emphasis on inward belief over outward practice and on universal calling may also have increased the importance of making the scriptures more easily and broadly understandable. A [more Protestant?] emphasis that the Bible is generally clear and that individuals are responsible for knowing the Scripture would also seem to be a factor.)

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Obviously I stink at tagging. I added the 'comparative-religion' tag, but I am not certain that such is appropriate. 'history' did not seem quite appropriate (though it would presumably be part of a good answer). –  Paul A. Clayton Jul 13 '13 at 21:06
    
I tried a little extra tagging - perhaps it will help :) –  warren Jul 14 '13 at 1:01
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FYI, the answer is "Yes, way more friendly than just about every other!" –  Affable Geek Jul 14 '13 at 2:57
    
@warren Not sure about the added tags ("linguistic approaches in Bible study" from 'language' might apply, but ...; 'linguistics' has no other questions and no wiki summary). I thought my original title was a bit long--you lengthened it. The line rule seems OK, but I am less comfortable with the subscript font. "Obviously" probably was useless (and possibly offensive even if more intending "if I am aware of this, it must be obvious" than "if you don't know this you are an ignoramus") "?" good edit; not sure about "far" (true?) and "," (separating phrases not clauses). Not enough to revert tho- –  Paul A. Clayton Jul 14 '13 at 2:57
    
@PaulA.Clayton - perhaps linguistics was a little too far, but the sup/sub was to try to offset the start of a possible answer from the rest of the question :) –  warren Jul 14 '13 at 12:55

3 Answers 3

Mark 16:15 (NIV) He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Matthew 28:19 (NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

God wants all nations and languages to know Jesus Christ.

Acts 1:8 (NIV) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

As per the words of Jesus Christ, the Gospel was first preached in Judea. After that, Philip preached the Gospel in Samaria. Latter, Paul became the main person to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, travelling as far as he could and end up in Rome, the center of the world at that time. The first century Christians spoke Aramaic and Greek, hence the New Testament was written mostly in Greek.

After 300 years, after persecuting the Christians for a long time, Rome finally became a Christian empire. Latin was the language of ancient Rome and hence was used for the language of sacred scripture. Till the 11th century, Christianity flourished mostly around Rome and Europe only and Latin was considered the sacred language. From the 15th century on wards, we see a great change. Reformations took place and many missionaries are sent to many parts of the world. This Missionary movement results in translation of Bible into different languages.

It is the will of God that the whole world should know Jesus Christ. The Gospel was already preached in Judea and Samaria. Now, it is our duty to fulfill the will of Jesus Christ that the Gospel should reach the ends of the world. Hence, translation of Bible in all languages is a necessity. For this reason, Christians tolerate translation of the Scripture unlike other religions.

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Because word of God is living and active, it cuts between soul and spirit, it discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart says author of Hebrews. St. John tells us that Jesus is word of God and he tabernacles in our midst. We are not Muslims where only Arabic is valid. No. Jesus spoke Hebrew/Aramaic which gets translated to Greek and Old Testament Masoretic text likely has been corrupted so Greek translation (LXX) is best. All we have is translation, because we do not worship a book, but a living God who is our Word.

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This question is geared towards Protestant Christianity as Catholicism had for hundreds of years a taboo on unauthorized translations of the Bible and still does. (I am not sure if Eastern Orthodox has the same taboo) So I will answer from the Protestant perspective.

Our scriptures were written in the common vernacular languages of their day. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in common Greek. The word choices and style of select books seems to imply further study was done however it would not have effected the readability of those who already knew and read the language.

Christianity is a personal religion which does not have rituals like the Jews or mandates like Islam. Christ continually says love one another and acts and epistles continue the saying with how the Holy Spirit guides. Thus far the Holy Spirit has guided us to reach people in their language and culture as that has a much higher success rate than other methods of outreach.

Also our attitude towards translation is so liberal because many became Martyrs translating the Bible into the common vernacular and then using it in an understandable form. Unauthorized and less biased translation allowed people to see how their leadership and traditions differed from what was written in the Bible. Tyndale and Tylesworth are the first Martyrs which come to mind but there were many, many others. Having translated select passages I can say it is a positive and productive expression of rebellion against those who burned and persecuted us so dearly in the past and continue to antagonize us in the present.

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-1 the Catholic Church has no such taboo on translating the Scriptures. The Jesuits, in particular had translated Scripture into 100s of languages before the 1700s, and Duns Scotus had done an English translation by the 1300s. You speak falsehoods here. –  Affable Geek Jul 14 '13 at 2:53
    
Plus, I don't think Wycliffe was martyred. Dishonorably exhumed after his death yes, but pretty sure he died a peaceful death. –  Affable Geek Jul 14 '13 at 2:56
    
@AffableGeek oh i'm sorry I forgot they only exumed his body and destroyed it it was his followers they burned at the stake when they found them. –  caseyr547 Jul 14 '13 at 3:24
    
@AffableGeek i added the word unauthorized to appease you but i doubt it will change your vote. –  caseyr547 Jul 14 '13 at 3:27
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Bible-researcher.com offers an overview of the Roman Catholic Church's response to various Bible transaltions throughout history at section three of this article. –  Philip Schaff Jul 14 '13 at 4:38

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