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Archive for May 11th, 2016

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“…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” Acts 2: 10b

Cyril (826-69) and Methodius (c. 815-85) were brothers who came from a Greek family in Thessalonica. The younger brother took the name “Cyril” when he became a monk in 868. After ordination, Cyril became librarian at the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople. In 862 the brothers were sent by the emperor as missionaries to what is now the Czech republic, where they taught in the native Slavic tongue. Cyril invented the alphabet today know today as “Cyrillic,” which provided a written language for the liturgy and Scriptures for the Slavic peoples. This use of the vernacular established an important principle for evangelical missions.

In an article in the May/June 2013 edition of Touchstone, “The Thessalonian Brothers:  The Legacy of the Mission of Cyril and Methodius 1,150 Years Later”, on the way to Rome in 867, the brothers stopped in Venice,

“…to debate Western clerics who insisted on the tradition of using only Hebrew, Greek, and Latin for worship, which the Slavonic sources deride as the “trilingual heresy” or “Pilatian heresy” (after Pilate’s use of those three languages for the sign on Christ’s cross (John 19:20) ).  (Cyril) is said to have responded with St. Paul’s words:  “that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord” (Phil. 2: 11)  

Further, it is written in Revelation 14: 6,

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and languageand people. 

There are 5 other references in Revelation to “languages” or “tongues”.  Cyril and Methodius translated the Bible for the Slavic people to read it.  Constantine (“Cyril”) was quite talented.  He became a librarian, then a professor of philosophy, then a monk and  eventually a missionary.  Methodius was a ruler of a Slavic province, then a contemplative monk and then with his brother Cyril a missionary.  The two missionary brothers were sent to Moravia where they began to translate invented the alphabet that bears Cyril’s name to this day:  Cyrillic and in the map below you can see how extenstive their alphabet was used.

Many worry that when the Bible is translated something is “lost in translation”, but that is not necessarily true as we see in history the “eternal Gospel” proclaimed to “those who dwell on earth”(Revelation). Nothing is lost in translation because, just as the copyists of the Torah and the Old Testament carefully wrote out the sacred Text, so did the Church, because of their care and concern for the care of God’s Word. Cyril and Methodius wanted the nations to know God’s Gospel. All Biblical translators and copyists love the truth of God’s Word verbatim and will do  nothing to betray the Lord.  They did not have to put a “spin” on God’s Word!  

The “eternal Gospel” has been translated into most of the languages on all the continents of earth.  The Word of God is translated so  we are “translated”, changed by the Gospel of grace for sinners through Jesus Christ our Lord.  We thank the Lord for ministry of Cyril and Methodius and for all missionaries and Bible translators.

The countries that use the Cyrillic alphabet officially and those who use it as a secondary language.

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