How do you translate the Bible?

When Emily McGowin taught high school English, she assigned her 9th-graders to translate the Beatitudes in their own words. They rendered the verses in which Jesus blesses the “unblessable.” What some of them wrote speaks to how they see the world.

Blessed are drug addicts and felons, people who try everything but still buckle under the pressure of their past lives and can never get back on their feet, for even they belong in the Kingdom of God.

Blessed are the orphans and foster children of the world because they are exactly who God wants in his Kingdom.

Blessed are the homeless because the Kingdom of God belongs to them too.

One came from a child who was removed from a home due abuse by a parent. He wrote:

Blessed are the abusers who take out their anger on the weak, for even they can repent and receive the Kingdom of God.

While they are not the Beatitudes, they speak of how you translate the Bible into something alive in your own life. It’s not about words but the friction that scripture creates in your own soul.

While some see church as “respectable,” that translation may twist into something different. Listen to what Jesus did.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” (Luke 19:5–7)

The translation of the crowd did not exactly match the gospel of which Jesus spoke.

To bring people to Jesus, our translation of the mission must match what Jesus’ intentions are. How well do you translate Jesus in your life and thinking?

-Robert G. Taylor-