Where there is a distinct language, lingo or even jargon there is a distinct culture every time. Often times communication on every level fails to a greater or lesser extent because this rule is neglected. Every time I hear an Independant Fundamental Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, mechanic, farmer, or computer specialist talk I am reminded of this rule. As a member of several cultures or subcultures myself I am reminded of how difficult good communication is.
The Apostle Paul’s letters to the Church at Corinth and Rome are masterful examples of communication and what it means to deeply respect and know another culture when proclaiming Jesus as the Christ. In Romans and 1/2nd Corinthians for example Paul alludes to and even directly quotes some philosophers who were deeply influential to the roman way of life but Paul never actually directly quotes Jesus. This is because he is translating the concept and message of Jesus not the words alone. Paul did not see that words had meaning in and of themselves but they were mere vehicles and servants or tools that carried meaning to the hearts and minds of the people listening.
How much different is our culture today 2000 years later from that of Rome or Corinth? And yet we ask our people in sermons or Bible studies to go back into time to understand the Gospel. It is good to go back to understand what he was saying in order to make a correct translation for today. But we should come out of our study with an understanding of HOW to say it to our people and various sub cultures here and now. Romans, Corinth and many of Paul’s letters are inspired examples of how to take who Jesus was and what Jesus said to a largely Jewish culture and translate it for a completely Roman or Greek culture. The carry over of meaning not just words is the heart of translation.Paul’s books alone could be used to teach a communication or translation theory course.