Translating the Gospel
This is a compilation of a series of articles on the principles of Bible translation using John 3.16 as an example.
The famous theologian, Karl Barth, was once asked what he thought was the most profound truth of the Christian faith. Thoughtfully he responded, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
This truth is succinctly expressed in John’s Gospel, chapter 3 verse 16. This verse has often been called the Gospel in a nutshell. In a series of articles reflecting on this verse word by word, Hart uses this great affirmation of God’s love for us to illustrate some of the challenges Bible translators face as we seek to restate God’s Good News in every language spoken on earth.
The first fact that a person used to reading the Bible in English must face is that this verse was originally written in Greek. To fully understand and appreciate all of the nuances of the text we must look at what John actually wrote.
Here is the text in Greek with an English gloss under each word:
Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ
THUS FOR LOVED – GOD THE WORLD THAT THE SON THE UNIQUE=ONE,
ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ᾽ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον
HE=GAVE, THAT ALL – BELIEVING IN HIM NOT MAY=PERISH BUT HAVE LIFE ETERNAL