Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

God's Word, Readable

In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram. Terra autem erat inanis et vacua et tenebrae super faciem abyssi et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas. Dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux. Can you read this? Most people cannot. Imagine someone telling you these words come from the Latin Bible and that this was the only version you could read. You can pick out some words, perhaps . . . Deus means God, for example, like the Spanish Dios. But most of the words mean very little to everyday Bible-readers. That is how life was before Scripture was translated into the English language. 

Circa 1380 --- over a century and a half before the Protestant Reformation began --- that most influential of pre-Reformation figures, John Wycliffe, did the impossible. He translated much of the Bible into the English tongue. This had been done before but not to this degree. William Tyndale next took up the torch. Before his time the New Testament had never been printed in English. His success in doing so was a monumental milestone. While these events produced a sensation (and rightfully so!) when they occurred, it was not only the 1500s that people began to read the Bible in English on a large scale.

The "Great Bible," published 1539

And it was not just English. Many other congregations, including the French Calvinists and German Lutherans from whom I descend, were blessed with copies of the Bible in their own languages throughout the 1500s as well. The ability to read, memorize, and understand Scripture became a staple for hearty groups such as the Huguenots and the Puritans throughout the 1500s and 1600s. Just imagine . . .  in modern times you can go to just about any store that sells books and browse a varied selection of English-language Bibles. You can go online and purchase a Bible in just about any language you choose. We could thank John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, or any number of printers, pamphleteers, and Scripture-lovers for this . . .

. . . but we ought to thank God, for it was His hand that set everything in motion.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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