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Jeremy Weber: The Whole Word for the Whole World


Jeremy Weber, “The Whole Word for the Whole World: Fewer than 10 percent of the world’s languages have the Old Testament. But that’s about to change” Christianity Today (Sept. 1, 2006)

I am the first to confess that I have a bias. I am a huge proponent of the Hebrew Scriptures and the myriad spiritual principles revealed in the lives and histories it tells us about. I have even been known to comment that apart from the gospels, the newer Testament is largely commentary on understanding the older.

Therefore, I was delighted to find an article in Christianity Today “The Whole Word for the Whole World” by Jeremy Weber. The article describes the recognition of the need for missionary Bibles to contain the entire Bible, not merely the New Testament. Translator Doming Lucasi is quoted as saying, “Having the New Testament without the Old is like having a sword without the handle.” I have never met Doming, but I like what he says.

The article explains how the New Testament is lacking when it comes to the creation account, and to God’s expectations in regard to sin and holiness. When you stop to consider it, how can the book of Hebrews’ “great cloud of witnesses” have any relevance if no one knows those named or the stories of their lives, faith, or their relationship to God? How can the linage of Jesus mean anything in the gospels, when that history has no significance to the readers? When Abraham’s faith is discussed in the New Testament, what is that to people who have no idea who Abraham was? When Paul tells us that we are all heirs of Abraham “according to promise,” what spiritual relevance is that without understanding the promises?

Culturally, many of the tribal peoples in the world look on matters of family history, animal sacrifices, and false gods as commonplace realities in the communities in which they live. Having translations of the Old Testament in their own languages helps them to relate to men and women whose lives were very much like their own. The article discusses a tribe in West Africa known as the Lobi. When they heard the book of Leviticus, they were able to directly relate to the sacrifices and rituals as being similar to their own. There was a connectedness to the Bible through the Old Testament that had been lacking before and resulted in becoming an “an open door to share the gospel.”

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus says that the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms speak of Him (Luke 24:44). Anyone reading that verse would naturally be curious to know about this “prequel.” It appears that international translators are getting that message.

Reviewed by Kevin M. Williams


At the time of publication, the full article by Weber was available online on Christianity Today’s website


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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2007

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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