Found in Translation/Wycliffe*’s Plea

For the artists, the liturgists and pioneers who keep the Good News fresh and don’t just parrot the wisdom: you will always be the true evangelists.

Lost for new words

We recycle the old ones

Not fathoming their subtle implications

As if their very antiquity suffices for intelligibility;

As if permanence were a virtue.

Well, not in linguistics

And that is hardly prophecy.

Sure, the well-worn is beautiful as poetry

But if lex orandi is lex credendi*

then new metaphors will come in handy

when translating the ancient

into postmodern.

After all, the Word became flesh and made his home among us

So we need to give Jesus the local lingo:

To keep translating him into our vernacular

and re-interpreting him with our lives.


*John Wycliffe (1320-1384) was an English priest who was an early translator of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate version into vernacular English, so that all English people could access the Scriptures in their own languages.

**Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin loosely translated as “the law of praying [is] the law of believing”) is a motto which means that it is prayer which leads to belief, or that it is liturgy which leads to theology.


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