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Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (American Society of Missiology Series) [Paperback]

By Lamin Sanneh (Author)
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Item Number 129004  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   255
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.28" Width: 6.05" Height: 0.76"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 1989
Publisher   Orbis Books
ISBN  0883443619  
EAN  9780883443613  

Availability  0 units.

American Society Of Missiology - Full Series Preview
Image Title Price Stock Qty Add To Cart
  Reader's Guide To Transforming Mission (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 19.36   In Stock  
  No Other Name?: A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes Toward the World Religions (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 27.20   In Stock  
  The Church and Cultures: New Perspectives in Missiological Anthropology (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 39.60   In Stock  
  Christian Mission: A Case Study Approach (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 26.40   In Stock  
  The Missionary Movement in American Catholic History (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 26.40   In Stock  
  Mission in the New Testament: An Evangelical Approach (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 23.80   In Stock  
  Changing Frontiers of Mission (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 24.64   In Stock  
  Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today (American Society of Missiology Series)   $ 28.90   In Stock  
  Landmark Essays in Mission and World Christianity   $ 29.75   In Stock  

Item Description...
Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (American Society of Missiology Series) by Lamin Sanneh

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More About Lamin Sanneh

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Lamin Sanneh, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Gambia and the scion of an ancient African royal house, was educated on four continents. He is Professor of History and World Christianity at Yale University, and chair of its Council on African Studies. His books include Whose Religion is Christianity?: The Gospel Beyond the West and The Changing Face of Christianity: Africa, the West, and the World (coedited with Joel A. Carpenter).

Lamin Sanneh currently resides in Hamden, in the state of Connecticut. Lamin Sanneh has an academic affiliation as follows - Professor of History, Yale University and Professor of Missions and Wo.

Lamin Sanneh has published or released items in the following series...
  1. American Society of Missiology

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General   [2161  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work   [3332  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Mission effects of translating the Bible into the vernacular  Apr 15, 2008
Translating the message is a theoretical book that primarily concerns itself with one area in the history of Christian mission work--translation. Sanneh attempts to demonstrate through an analysis of the history of Christian mission that a central characteristics of Christian mission is that it enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the world's various cultures; the Gospel adapts to it and the culture responds the the Gospel through resurgence, cultural pride, and a move toward righteousness

Sanneh first examines the early Church's apostolic missionary efforts to proclaim the Gospel among Greek-speaking gentiles. While there was an ethnocentric attitude on the part of Jewish Christians, God made his desire that the Gospel be preached to many cultures known primarily through the miracle at Pentecost and then subsequently through other miraculous signs as Gentile individuals and groups came to faith (e.g. Cornelius and his family). The Greek-speaking Gentile culture received the Gospel through vernacular preaching and found that it fit so naturally into their culture that they began to believe that when the Gospel came to these Greek-speakers, it came to its natural home. The result was a resurgence of cultural pride as they allowed the Gospel to shape them.
The experience of the early Church's missionary activity set a pattern that would be repeated throughout the church's life as it sought to spread the Gospel. As the Gospel was spread to Northern Europe and later to Asia, the Americas, and Africa, tension existed between Christians who advocated a conversion toed to cultural conformity (especially linguistic) and Christians who valued a conversion that allowed for a unique cultural expression of their new faith, especially in their native tongue.

A special focus is placed on post-Reformation missionary work in Africa as this is the author's own area of academic expertise and also because the African experience shows the extremes of both missionary paradigms--Western control and forced conformity as well as total cultural transference of the Gospel. Through this, Sanneh demonstrates that where missionaries are willing to allow a culture to have a translated Bible, express the Christian faith in their own way, and gradually take ecclesiastical leadership, the Church flourishes. Where missionaries attempt to change the culture, prescribe expression of faith, are reluctant to put a vernacular Bible in the peoples' hands, and local leadership is restricted, the Church struggles.

The book ends with a comparison between the spread of Christianity and the spread of Islam in Africa. While Christianity values cultural transference of the faith and Scripture/worship in the vernacular, Islam insists on maintaining an Arabic Koran and worship language. While the missionary paradigms differ radically (sanneh calls them mirror images of one another), each religion has managed to take hold in Africa.

Appendices include selections from Vatican II that reflect the Catholic church's growing acceptance of indigenous expressions of faith, a table showing the progress the Church has made in translating the Scriptures into the world's languages, and a list of languages that have a complete vernacular Bible along with the year this translation was completed.

There do exist flaws in Translating the Mission. One is that it is incomplete in terms of its theology. While it is true that much understanding of theology is culturally conditioned, not all theology is subjective. Where the line is drawn is not always clear and (admittedly) the purpose of this book is not to draw this line, but the fact that heterodoxy and orthodoxy are not addressed decreases the usefulness of this book. When Gnosticism, charismatic theology (prophesy, healing), and liberation theology are addressed, they are all assumed to be authentic expressions of Christianity, to be accepted because they are grass-roots movements. However, just as translated Bibles are "handed down" to other nations, so doctrine is also to be "handed down" or at the very least regulated. How the training of natives and balancing doctrinal purity with authentic expressions of faith, and how these two concepts interact with Scriptural translation would have made this book more valuable. As it stands, Sanneh's theology of the Word apparently excludes the concept of maturing in the faith and thus theological training.

Also, Sanneh is illogical in his comparison of Muslim and Christian mission efforts in Africa. Sanneh had argued throughout Translating the Mission that Christian missionary effectiveness is directly correlated with translating the Scripture into the vernacular. He then argues that Islam also spread, albeit with a refusal to translate the Koran into the vernacular. Furthermore, Sanneh offers few insights into why this happened, limiting his research to proving that it happened. Although this reader appreciates Sanneh's academic integrity in presenting evidence that contradicts his thesis, he does not show the relationship between these contrasting-yet-successful mission paradigms. This reader now walks away questioning Sanneh's thesis and evaluation of the evidence.

This book is helpful with regard to missiology in that it reinforces the idea that a person's upbringing and culture prepares a person to receive the Gospel and also influences his understanding of it. It is important for one to remind himself that God has given his people a diversity of gifts and experiences (personal as well as cultural). It is important for the Church to embrace a diversity of gifts while recognizing the Church's unity.

Leadership transference is also an important message of this book. The Church depends on local and specialized leaders to be raised up, to take ownership, to make decisions, and to work toward unique, contextually relevant ends. Identifying new leaders (regardless of their culture) empowering, and supporting them is necessary for the ongoing mission of the church.

This book is recommended.
Receiving (the message) is better than giving  Jan 24, 1997
"Translating the Message" may be the best book on missions to be published in years. Many reviewers have focused upon this book as a defense of the Christian mission enterprise. This is, however, an incorrect assessment of a deep investigation into the reception of the gospel message. Sanneh demonstrates that it is not the transmission of the message that is central, but the local acceptance and adaption of the good news in local languages and categories of interpretation. In the course of his argument he also shows that the gospel cannot be otherwise, for it is the nature of grace to translate the message into local thought forms and thus be transformed by these local categories. "Translating the Message" is essential reading for all who are interested in the advent of non-Western Christianity.

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