Post Tenebras Lux, (after darkness, light), is the Latin phrase that captures the importance of the Bible to the Reformation. A second Latin phrase, Sola Scriptura, teaches us that the Bible alone is the authority for knowing God and ordering our lives in Christ.
Leading up to the Reformation, a rebirth of classical learning had been sparked in many corners of Europe. A phenomenon we call the Renaissance, this return to the original sources of classical knowledge, culminated in 1516 in the publishing of a scholarly version of the Greek New Testament by a man named Desiderius Erasmus. As a devout Roman Catholic this was a bold work. Though controversial, Erasmus received the support of the Pope. Ironically, his publication spawned Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament into German, a Bible translation that changed Western Civilization and Christianity forever.
For English speaking people, a similar event occurred in 1526 when William Tyndale completed his English translation of the New Testament. Tyndale also used Erasmus’ critical version of the Greek Text, and his work became the basis for the King James Version which served as the most important English translation of the Scriptures for nearly 400 years. Also, many believe he conducted his work in Wittenburg with the aid of Luther.
The churches born out of the Reformation value possessing the Bible in the common languages of the peoples of the world. Past church leaders have worked tirelessly to translate the Scriptures and to teach the Scriptures in order that after darkness, light may come.
In John 8 Jesus tells us, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The work of translation makes it possible for us to be spiritually nourished by this truth. May we not walk in darkness. May we “take up and read” and be transformed!