Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture. Front Cover. Lamin O. Sanneh. Orbis Books, – Religion – pages. Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture Lamin Sanneh, D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and. Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture. Front Cover. Lamin Sanneh. Orbis Books, Feb 25, – Religion – pages.

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Translating the Message : Lamin Sanneh :

Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Working with new insights on the influence that Christian translations of Scriptures and catechisms into African languages had on cultural self-understanding, social awakening, religious renewal, reciprocity in mission, process, Sanneh shows that mission and translation were and continue to be integral parts of cultural renewal in the face of the relentless onslaught of imperialism in its classic and contemporary forms.

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American Society of Missiology Book 42 Paperback: Orbis Books; 2nd edition January 1, Language: Start reading Translating the Message on your Kindle in under a minute. Don’t have a Kindle? Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers.

Write a customer review. Showing of 11 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. The content is great, but I have a problem with all these Orbis published books with their small, hard to read and thin fonts. They need to improve the font type and size. Still standing as a major work, and hinge for new understanding of Christian missions in Africa.

One person found this helpful. Translating the Message can be seen as a long historical reflection mewsage Pentacost and its aftermath. The essence of how the Gospel relates to cultures lies in its “translatability,” Sanneh argues.

Misc notes on Lamin Sanneh’s Translating the Message

Jesus spoke in Aramaic, but the records of his life are in Greek. At each stage of translation, missionaries tend to demand that hearers learn their own messwge ways along with the Gospel. But the nature of that message mitigates against this cultural presumption, so that when the Gospel has been translated, indigenous people find biblical support for their own independence from the missionaries and their not infrequently imperialistic culture.


As Sanneh argues, while human beings may share foibles, in this respect Christianity contrasts sharply with Islam. The Koran was written in heaven in pure Arabic.

Sanneh’s point here is right on the mark: I’m not sure of the logic, but the upshot was that he recognized Arab culture as sautered to Islam. Naipaul’s books describe how this works in places like Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. More and more, as education spreads and people want to read their sacred books directly, Muslims around the world are asked to become Arab.

Sometimes Christians have made the same mistake. What Sanneh explains well here, is that despite our stupidity, the Gospel itself, both its content and the very fact that it is translated, eventually encourages a plurality of Christian cultures to spring up. If this pluralism matters so much, one reviewer asked, why has Islam also won the allegience of so many Africans?

I think that pattern does show that affirming cultures is better than denying them, even as strategy: Quite a bit of the book deals with Africa, though Sanneh also talks about Greece, Europe, India, the Americas, and Japan a fair amount. Translating the Message can be read as a universal history of Christianity, from one particular perspective.

My area of expertise is China and East Asia. My first book 15 years ago was called True Son of Heaven: How Jesus fulfills the Chinese Culture, so I’ve been thinking about these issues teanslating a while.

Sanneh doesn’t talk about East Asia much, here, but what he says is interesting. A few characters who are especially fascinating in the light of his thesis, whom he either fails to mention, or says little of: For those who are interested in my part of the world, I recommend you look into the lives of these remarkable men.

Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture

My approach to Gospel and world cultures is through what I call “Fulfillment Theology,” which is more involved than translation, but Sanneh lightly touches on some of these deeper issues here, too. Sanneh is writing for an educated audience that is willing to invest time and thought into following his argument. He tends to repeat himself a fair amount, so if you skip a few pages, you won’t miss his point, though you might miss a good example, or even a good story, some amusing.

Some passages are a little top-heavy with abstract nouns, others flow smoothly, or achieve a sort of eloquence. Anyone can learn a lot from this book. In his revised work, “Translating the Message,” Lamin Sanneh, the professor of Missions and World Christianity and professor of History at Yale Divinity School, strengthens his argument that from the inception Christianity has identified itself with the need to translate itself out of Aramaic and Hebrew to contextualize its message to the diverse cultures and vernaculars messags the world.


The main purpose of this book is to show that Christianity is not a surrogate of Western Christianity, neither had it spread because of its European arm; rather it has powerfully advanced because of its inherent nature of translatability. In addition to combining “history and theology” to attest his thesis, Sanneh also ths the striking differences between two missionary religions-Islam and Christianity, and their contrasting attitudes in the aspect of translatability.

He emphasizes on the Christianity’s translatability over non-translatable Arabic Quran and its faith, not to put Islam down by comparison, but to emphasize his main argument. Some will certainly feel that Sanneh did not give a fair shot to Islam in this book.

Sanneh’s thought, even some sentences are repetitive in the book. Neverthless, this book is not boring. This monumental work is very helpful for both western and non-western readers in understanding how Gospel has made at home in all world cultures from its beginning that no particular culture today can claim to be authoritatively Christian. See all 11 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.

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