Professor Doug Wilson has called on many students to graduate from University of Mobile and become pastors, worship leaders, chaplains, missionaries, and professionals who use their work to advance the gospel.
He is grateful and humble when he thinks of everyone.
But Wilson has one specific prayer that he has prayed over the past few years – that God call the students in his classes to go translate the Bible for groups of people who do not have the word of God in their language.
He knows at least one student who has done this, and he prays for more.
But he doesn’t stop there – he puts the Bible translation in front of his students all the time.
“I have introduced students to Biblical Hebrew and taught Old Testament at UM since 2003, and have recently developed courses on the history and theory of Bible translation,” said Wilson, who is dean of the Center for Christian Calling at UM.
Wilson was recently invited to sit on the Old Testament Translation Committee for the new version of Tyndale, so he will show them what the process looks like in real time as he works on a project himself.
Wilson will translate three books and serve as section editor for part of the Old Testament.
The idea behind the NTV is to honor the process William Tyndale used to print the first Complete Bible in English in 1526.
Tyndale translated his English version from the original Greek and Hebrew, which the NTV team will also do. But they’ll also have access to manuscripts Tyndale didn’t have.
“We are honoring Tyndale’s legacy by using documents that were unknown 500 years ago,” he said.
“These findings include texts from the Codex Sinaiticus (1844), Codex Leningradensis (1863), Cairo Geniza (1896), and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947), among others.
The publication of the multi-year project will coincide with the 500th anniversary of Tyndale’s Bible.
“William Tyndale joined men like Jan Hus and Martin Luther who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the language of their people so that it could be read in their mother tongue, the language of their heart,” Wilson said , noting that Tyndale was martyred 10 years later for his work.
Wilson’s role in the NTV will be to translate the portions assigned to him “word by word, verse by verse and chapter by chapter”.
“We need to be aware of the history of the texts, interpretation issues, and translation challenges in the Hebrew and Aramaic sections of our books entrusted to us,” said Wilson, who has taught biblical languages, studies biblical and intercultural courses over the past 25 years.
He studied Old Testament languages and literature, including several ancient Near Eastern languages, with longtime NIV Bible translator Larry Walker.
“Dr. Walker taught me translation theory and trained me in translating from Hebrew and related Semitic languages,” Wilson said. “My work on this project continues Dr. Walker’s legacy in his service to the Lord as a translator of the Bible.
Honor the mentors
A colleague who also studied with Walker asked Wilson to be part of NTV’s translation team.
In addition to honoring Tyndale, Wilson said his work with the team also honors his father, who has taught history for 25 years. And it builds on its own mission to expose students to Bible translation and help them grasp a vision for this type of ministry.
“My prayer is that our experience and training on this project will be a spark to ignite the passion of other UM students to take on the role of Bible translation, especially in languages in which there is no has no previous translation, “he said.
Wilson asked to pray for those who were part of the NTV translation team. He also asked for a prayer “that the master of the harvest will send laborers to unreached and unengaged groups of people … for men and women who will devote their lives to translating the Bible into the languages of these people.”