Signs of the Times

From an address by Professor C. H. Dodd, D. D., at the British and Foreign Bible Society's anniversary meeting in the Christian World, London, England

The breath-taking figure which tells the number of languages in which the Bible, or parts of it have been issued is more than a mere measure of success in a publishing enterprise of exceptional complexity. The truly astonishing fact is that these books, written long ago in Hebrew and Greek, have stood up to translation into languages of widely different character and structure, some of them bafflingly intractable, spoken by men of every race and color, inhabiting all latitudes from the equator to the poles, of differing capabilities, with vastly different traditions, at varying levels of civilization: and have proved that there is that in them which can get through without losing anything of its power over the minds and hearts of men.

There is something peculiar in this urge that drove the people of the Bible, whether Jewish or Christian, to keep on translating their Scriptures into fine language after another, and to keep on revising their translations—Peshitta from Old Syriac, Vulgate from Old Latin, and so on. One cannot help asking whether there was any special reason for it. The answer, or at least part of the answer, I believe, is that Christianity has always set a high value on the understanding of its message. ...

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November 6, 1954

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