Over his year career at Yale Divinity School as well as stints at the University of London and two Pontifical Commissions, he brought World Christianity to the forefront, drawing a global network of scholars and friends around his scholarship in the fields of African history, abolitionism, and Christian-Muslim relations. Their tributes appear below. Andrew F. Walls, founder of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland: All members of [the Yale-Edinburgh network of World Christianity scholars] will have learned with deep sorrow of the passing, while still at the height of his considerable powers, of Professor Lamin Sanneh.

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Shelves: school Sannehs thesis is stated clearly in the introduction to his work: the translatability of Scripture from Jewish cultures Aramaic and Hebrew into the Gentile cultures Greek established a pattern of translation, appropriation, and assimilation of languages and cultures which has theological and cultural ramifications.

This pattern of crossing cultural-linguistic borders not only destigmatized the newly translated language by appropriating it for sacred use but also relativized the cultural impact reflected in the languages of earlier translations of Scripture by assimilating them within an every-broadening understanding of the Christian story.

Pluralism in the church is introduced as a natural development when Scripture is translated into a new language. The positive aspects of pluralism were not always welcomed in the history of the Church as evidenced by the stance of Tertullian and later actions of Cabral This principle of pluralism developed by Sanneh challenges the hegemony of any cultural form of Christianity over the contextual expression within any other culture.

In Chapter 2, Sennah gives several examples of how the Hellenic culture of Christianity, a result of the first translation, appropriation and assimilation process between Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek language and culture was later challenged when new languages and cultures were added. I was not aware of the significant place the development of Old Slavonic language and translation was in the development of Christianity. I am familiar with the development of the language itself.

But as Sanneh is establishing, the development of language for translation of Scripture has wide ramifications. Not only establishing a transnational identity for the Slavic peoples, but also planting the seeds of reformation in Great Moravia that continued to grow through Bohemian Catholic priest Jan Hus and the eventual development of the Bohemian Brethren Moravian church, precursors of the Protestant Reformation.

The connection between translation and reformation is now much clearer for me. The theological affirmations which emerge from the translatability of Christianity based on the Scriptures themselves, into other cultural expressions, have implications for the Church, for nations and for people groups. Sanneh also connects vernacular translations with undermining colonialism and hastening the collapse of Christendom.

Walls makes a similar comparison on the growth of Christianity when he points to the inclusion of different cultures as a necessary process in the work of salvation of a trans-cultural, trans-generational church Walls , see "The Ephesian Moment", especially page To repeat the observation I cited last week, Skreslet insists that diffusion is no longer a satisfactory model for missionary activity and has been replaced by contextualization.

The clearest connection with Sanneh is that contextualization is most present in the process of translating both the text and meaning of Scripture into new cultural expressions.

Only through this process can we learn what the fullness of the gospel means. Translating the message : the missionary impact on culture. Maryknoll, N. Walls, Andrew F. The cross-cultural process in Christian history : studies in the transmission and appropriation of faith. From this starting point, Sanneh goes on to explore the impact of this need for translation throughout the history of missions. This includes the cultural, religious and linguistic translation to the Greeks, Northern Europe and then to Africa.

I found this connection intriguing, as both authors are African academics who have contributed an insightful perspective on the history of missions and contemporary issues in contemporary, pluralistic field of missions today.


Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture

Sanneh, Lamin O. American Society of Missiology Series. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, The Author Lamin Sanneh is the D. He, a naturalized U. He subsequently came to the United States on a U. After graduating he spent several years studying classical Arabic and Islam, including a stint in the Middle East, and working with the churches in Africa and with international organizations concerned with inter-religious issues.


Also of Interest

He wrote extensively about the translation of the Christian message, challenging a good deal of the accepted history of mission in the modern academy. In some important respects, however, the modern shift was unprecedented, for it was the extraordinary multiplicity of mother-tongue idioms that became the subject of Christian mission rather than the cosmopolitan values of an ascendant West. Nonetheless, mission maintained continuity with its apostolic past. In examining the modern missionary phase, however, we should highlight important signposts in the indigenous culture, especially in the local encounter with the modern West. The translation role of missionaries cast them as unwitting allies of mother-tongue speakers and as reluctant opponents of colonial domination. He was an editor-at-large of The Christian Century , and served on the board of several other journals.


Lamin Sanneh



Book | Translating the Message by Lamin Sanneh


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