The Authority of Scripture

October 28, 2014

By Brittany Bradley

CIU Student Writer

Before the symphony, before the melody, before the grandeur, there is the painstakingly tedious task of the composer: to think, to arrange, to decide. So, too, is the process of biblical translation. Dr. Douglas Moo, a Bible translator, was the lecturer for the annual commemoration of one of the core values of Columbia International University: The Authority of Scripture.

Moo is the chair of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) and a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, as well as a well-known author of Bible commentaries and co-author of a number of other books. He spoke in Chapel Oct. 21-23, concerning the process of biblical translation, focusing on the themes of “Confidence and Understanding.”

Moo discussed how translation works today and laid out a foundation by discussing the dichotomy between retaining lexical and syntactical structure while also conveying naturalness of expression. Moo says it is the job of translators to walk that fine line and make decisions about rendering the original text, adding that it is a long, tedious process, but a process which can be trusted.

“I learned a lot about translation techniques, which is interesting since I’m taking Greek,” said sophomore Scott Swier who is majoring in Biblical Languages. “I’m more open to more dynamic translations like the NIV since this week. It’s also awesome that CIU had such a highly qualified speaker come.” 

The NIV, which Moo referred to as “the modern English Bible,” took 40 years to translate. The CBT, tasked with revising the NIV, is made up of 15 evangelical members from various denominational and theological backgrounds. Moo assures that CBT is not a place of personal agendas, but that revisions to the NIV are not made lightly and require a 70-75 percent vote.

 “You have access to the very Word of God. You can have confidence in that,” Moo said.

Another important aspect of translation which Moo discussed concerns that of meaning. He said good translators transfer meaning, not words and seek to communicate the Word of God using “current English,” that is, the common language that the larger audience of English speaking people is using. He also said that ultimately, translators seek to translate the Bible into a language that people can access and understand so that they can come to saving knowledge of Christ.

“I learned how key translation is for people understanding the Word of God the way it is meant to be understood,” said junior Kayla Swails, a Teacher Education major.

Moo concluded the week with a challenge: may the Authority of Scripture not only be to us a phrase, but initiate from us a response to live under that authority.

Hear Moo's messages at: