Tuesday, 1 September 2009

"Speak the word, and your servant will be healed."

While we're thinking about the ins & outs of yet another Bible translation in English, Viggo Søgaard has written an interesting article for Lausanne on advancing Bible translation for non-reading audiences, particularly thinking about translation into audio formats. It's well worth a read.

I find this interesting, both because I think that our culture is a lot less text-based than we might assume, and because I've been led to explore this more through seeking to serve visually impaired and non-literate people in Christian Union work, church and home. I may be known as a reader, and even write a blog(!), but it has broadened and deepened my Bible study over the years to
not rely on reading text, but to memorise passages / books, sing Scripture, and listen to chunks of Scripture as well as 'reading' it more traditionally (I currently use the ESV website with its passage 'listen' function for this last).

I sometimes joked that my job with UCCF involved teaching students to read - and certainly, we regularly had the coloured pens and highlighters out for students to scribble away on printed-out Bible passages, underlining, circling, colour-coding: all tools to read properly, noting the main themes, the flow of argumentation or drama of a text, the poetry or repetition, etc. But I wanted them not objectively analyse the text, but to hear it, to drink it in, to live in it and be transformed by it. Something of that may be helped by considering it in an aural way, rather than stopping with reading & analysing.

And lest you're daunted by the task of ministering to the non-literate, an example from my own church: a married couple have been with us for a while now, whom we invited along from a council estate in the area. Thinking doesn't come naturally for him, or following a flow of thought; and he's certainly not a reader. She's blind. We got them resources on video and cassette, and a large print Bible for him. We also started 'storying' in the little meeting we have on their estate - using a short story from the gospels, telling it simply, getting the 'audience' to tell it back, contributing various bits & correcting each other, then to tell it to each other in 2s & 3s, then to reflect on bits of it with directing questions from the leader. We expected the lady to find this useful: she's fairly quick in thinking, and has the aural experience from being blind. What we didn't expect was for him to be able, a month later, to recite the story almost word for word, and to correct others. He was transformed by it. He reads the Bible to his wife every day, and discusses it, loving it. He testifies: "My mind's so much clearer when I read the Bible." Not a lot involved - just a few resources, a style of 'preaching' that didn't assume the text but instead concentrated on being able to remember the passage by the end, and patient care. But these dear people are hearing the word of God - and by His Spirit, who opens the eyes of the blind and clears the ears of the deaf, they're responding in faith.

Have a read at the article for more on the Bible for non-literate people.

4 comments:

Mikey C said...

have you finished at UCCF then?

I was going to ask you to keep an eye out for my sister - she's starting at Birmingham this year! This makes me feel old.

étrangère said...

Yes I've finished on staff. Direct her to www.uccf.org.uk/freshers :)

transforminggrace said...

Storying sounds brilliant. I'll give it a go in West Brom.

étrangère said...

Yes it is good - we got the idea from Tim Chester, who's taught it at New Word Alive and on his training course. He probably has resources on his blog to describe it better.