Thoughts for the Day

Thursday, 19th October 2023: Translating the Scriptures

Christian Mark 16 Translator Education Teaching

Reading : Verses from Mark, Chapter 16

Jesus teaching

And Jesus said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good new to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


We looked at William Tyndale recently who translated the New Testament into English. This subject had interested me for years when I joined 'The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge' (SPCK) as a trustee. They were to publish ten of my books, and I was eventually to become Vice Chairman of this ancient society which began in 1688.

By 1700 SPCK was providing Christian bibles, including translations of the bible, in a number of countries. One story I loved, concerned a printing press sent to India to allow the locals to print bibles in their own language. The ship was attacked by pirates and the ship was sunk. A few years later they retrieved the press but had no-one to work it, so SPCK sent them a printer who could operate the machine.

Today, we look at another translator, Henry Martyn, born in 1781. An evangelical Christian he went out to Calcutta as a chaplain to the East India Company to minister to the British expatriate community. However, he learnt the local languages and then supervised the translation of the New Testament, first into Hindustani, then into Persian and Arabic. Suffering from TB he died on this day in 1812.

The five men who set up SPCK had a great concern for "the gross ignorance of the Christian religion". Their mission was primarily about teaching, as it was for Henry Martyn. I too am passionate about teaching adults about their faith! If you know anyone who would like these thoughts, please let me know.


Heavenly Father,
we thank You for all those
involved in the work of Christian education
both now and in the past:
for those who translated
the Bible into hundreds of languages;
for Christian theologians;
for teachers of the faith;
for those who work in seminaries
and theological colleges;
for authors, designers, editors and
publishers of Christian books;
and especially those who have taught us.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to know more about SPCK Publishing today:

If you are involved in teaching in schools, you might like to look up SPCK's site for producing assembles - I fought hard to help get the site off the ground some years ago.

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