A lot of things change in Focus as we transition from school year to summer. Many students have left to spend the summer with their families. Others find themselves with lots of free time now that classes are over. For students who still want to learn over the summer, Focus offers School of Ministry. Since none of our students attend college level classes on theology or the Bible, School of Ministry offers college-level education on various topics relevant to Christians. This year, School of Ministry groups are listening to audio lectures from a seminary in Canada about either the Old or New Testament. The groups then meet during the week to discuss the lectures.
Matt Clark and I are facilitating a discussion group over the New Testament Foundations class. Even though we've only been at it for two weeks, I feel like I have already learned a lot, and it has also been beneficial to our students.
One of the things discussed in the lectures is the difficult process by which our scripture has gotten to us here in the twenty-first century. It always amazes me to think about scribes copying the Bible by hand in order to preserve it for the future. The lecturer for our New Testament class makes the point that those scribes faced a lot of challenges, most notably flies drinking ink from their inkwells. It was those scribes, often monks, who preserved the Bible even through the Dark Ages, when pretty much no one outside the clergy could even read and write. My point is that God has been active in keeping the scripture intact for us - without his protection, the biblical manuscripts surely would have been lost or destroyed.
Translation has also been a significant issue for our understanding of the scripture. Translators are forced to make thousands of choices during the translation process. Some are small - which synonym should I use? - and some are bigger - should I aim for word-for-word accuracy or try to convey ancient idioms through modern equivalents? - but every choice affects what we, as English speaking Christians, read in our Bibles. Many human hands have touched our holy scriptures, but I am amazed at God's guidance throughout history. Our current translations still deliver the truth of God to us no matter which version we read.
So next time you sit down to read a Psalm, think about all the faithful Christians throughout history who have participated in getting the scripture to you, and think about God's guiding hand making sure that you can hear the truth today.