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Report from the Trinitarian Text & Translation Conference

Report from the Trinitarian Bible Society Text & Translation Conference

By Matthew Vogan

The first Text and Translation Conference of the Trinitarian Bible Society was held at our international headquarters on 15 September 2022. People from different backgrounds within the UK and from across the world gathered to hear addresses on the principles impacting the translation of the Scriptures. The main focus of the conference was on how the doctrine of Scripture should influence our approach to translating the Word of God and the right texts which should serve as the basis for such work. With dozens of foreign language projects, the TBS is understandably deeply interested in these matters. The audience were able to see the practical outworking of these principles even as they were seated in the assembly hall in our warehouse surrounded by shelves stacked with sound Bibles waiting for despatch across the world. 

The Revd John Thackway of Salisbury began the proceedings with a discussion of ‘The Doctrine of Holy Scripture’, laying particular emphasis on the divinity, authority, clarity, and sufficiency of the Bible. 

Next Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi of Cheltenham gave an especially stirring address on ‘The Word and Work of God Among the Persian People’ in which we heard how the Word was prevailing in Iran despite persecution, and about the need for an accurate translation in the tradition of Henry Martyn’s work. He noted that leading evangelicals who hold to an uncertain critical Greek text of Scripture are quoted by Muslim apologists in support of Islam and the Quran. 

After lunch William Greendyk from Michigan, USA spoke on ‘Dynamic or Literal Translation? Lessons from the Spanish Bible Project’. As the leader for this project, he was able to demonstrate the importance of a right philosophy of translation. Many examples were given of Spanish versions where a loose dynamic approach was effectively rewriting Scripture. 

In the final address of the day Dr Jeff Riddle of Virginia, USA presented ‘The Case for the Received Text’. He outlined the stark reality that modern textual criticism could no longer claim to be able to recover the original text of the New Testament. However, an alternative to textual criticism is found in the Reformed confessions. These assert that the text of Scripture does not need to be reconstructed but instead has been kept pure by the special providence of God and preserved in the church down through the ages in the Received Text. He went on to take a test case from Christ’s prayer in Luke 23.34, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’. In contrast to the doubts raised by many modern versions as to the originality of these words, Dr Riddle demonstrated from manuscript and other evidence that these words should be accepted as part of the authentic Word of God. 

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