Language presents some interesting conundrums. “Conundrum” – a paradoxical, insoluable, or difficult problem; a dilemma.” We play games with language. “What did you mean by that?” expresses -an interogative question to clarify a statment. Arguments often stem from the collision of one’s world of language with that of another. Ron Martoia responded in an interview,
I’m in the middle of an intentional “re-lexiconning” of Christianity. The well-worn categories and definitions of Christianity have been so diluted that they’ve lost their power. If you ask a hundred pastors, “What is the kingdom?” a hundred definitions emerge. If you ask people on the street, “What is the gospel?” you get even more varied definitions. We need to rework the language of Christianity to remain viable in our culture.
We do not mind “re-lexiconning” but we do not want to consider what this means when we hope to communicate Scripture to people who do not speak with the “King’s English.” Someone has likened this disdain from putting the Scripture in modern idioms to asking someone who speaks Spanish to learn English before they can come to faith in Christ.
The New Testament comes to us in “koine” Greek – the language of the common person. You might call it “everyman’s language.” The intent was to make it readable and available for every person. Yet, today we want every person to learn a form of English and expression in English not used anywhere else today. Definitely not “everyman’s language.” If we are going to maintain this posture then everyone needs a Greek New Testament – and needs to learn Greek.
However, we are glad someone has translated the “koine” Greek so we, everyman/everyperson, might understand the Word of God. When someone undertakes to help people hear/understand the Word of God, they stand in a great tradition dating back to the very writing of the Words we value and cherish. So, when people like Eugene Peterson undertake to preserve Scripture by putting it in “everyman’s” language, I applaud.
Some of our young adults around here have been introduced to this project called, The Message.
They have found a “re-invigorating” reading experience. They grew up on another translation. They still read those. Yet, this experience for them helps make the connection in ways not experienced before. It really helps them consider ways of making their faith relevant to those they hope to reach with the gospel of Jesus, the Christ.
A new perspective does not diminsh the value – it enhances.