Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Most Diverse Movement in History

From Christianity Today:
Centuries of Western art depicting Jesus as fair-skinned may incline some of us to forget that he was a Middle Eastern Jew who lived under oppressive Roman rule and whose followers were first called “Christians” in Antioch—the ruins of which lie in modern-day Turkey. Christianity did not come from the West. But nor was it constrained by its culture of origin. Jesus’ life and teachings scandalized his fellow Jews by tearing through their racial and cultural boundaries. For instance, the hero of the Parable of the Good Samaritan came from a hated ethnic group. Jesus commanded his disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). They began at once.

In Acts, we see the Spirit enabling the apostles to evangelize people “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), including those from modern-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Egypt (Acts 2:5–11). This move of the Spirit to communicate in the heart-language of those listening is one evidence among many that Christianity is a multicultural and multilingual movement. In fact, the Bible itself is multilingual!

The Old Testament is in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. But Jesus’ mother tongue was Aramaic, and the Hebrew Scriptures were mostly accessed by first-century Palestinian Jews via Aramaic translations. We see traces of Jesus’ first language in Mark, when he raises a little girl (Mark 5:41), heals a deaf man (7:34), and cries out to his Father on the cross (15:34). The criminal charge posted at the cross (“Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”) was written in three languages—Aramaic, Latin, and Greek—to cover the relevant languages of the time (John 19:20). But there is no single language of Christianity. (Read more.)

No comments: