The biblical Revelation as an eye of the needle of divine communication – An overview of the Trinitarian-communicative foundations in relation to the science of Bible translation

Eberhard Werner


The biblical Revelation as an eye of the needle of divine communication. 1

An overview of the Trinitarian-communicative foundations in relation to the science of Bible translation  1

Abstract 1

Structure. 1

Introductory thoughts – Ways of communication. 1

The self-revelation. 3

Holy Scripture – Anthropos and Theos. 5

The eye of the needle of divine communication. 6

Missiological considerations. 9

Experienced communication. 10

Church Historical Review – Communication Thought 11

Summary. 12



Sacred Scripture conveys to us different ways in which divine transcendence was revealed to man in pre-biblical, pre-Christian, pre-canonical, and canonical times. The revealed concept of the three-unity or Trinity of the Judeo-Christian God plays an important role. However, this theological theorem as biblical truth must not obscure the fact that it is a purely relational structure. The relational category of God’s revealed essence becomes explicable, among other things, from the forms and ways of communication. The event of the incarnation, in the condescension and the divestiture or emptying (kenosis) of the divine counterpart in persona, as well as the formation of the canon in the context of the entire salvation history, represents a provisional climax of divine revelation, which must be regarded as the communicative eye of the needle. The “before” and the “after” of the ways of communication of this divine revelation form the basis for the science of Bible translation. The biblical canons in their presently presentation, as well as the writings accompanying and describing them, form the basis of our image of God. As foundational texts, these canons are based on textual criticism. They narrow the divine communication patterns to the implicit and explicit communicative content of the biblical text. For this reason, the science of Bible translation is required to become aware of the variety of possibilities for the transmission of communicative sacred-divine content and to make the receptor / receiver aware of both the ways of transmission and the options of meaning of the biblical text(s). The nature of God accessible to us is described in these ways of transmission and communication.


In the first part, ways of communication in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are considered, by which the divine transcendence approached humanity, subgroups or individuals in an orally transmitted or written way.

In the second part, the function like a needle’s eye / narrowing of these ways of revelation to the canonization and writing down of the Scriptures is considered, as well as the significance of this process for the community and the Church.

The third part deals with the resulting missiological consequences.

Introductory thoughts – Ways of communication

The Trinity, three-unity, three-in-one or three-in- unity represents a theoretical concept that can be derived from the biblical accounts, but cannot be logically comprehended. It remains a mystery that manifests itself in faith (πίστις, pistis) and understanding (σύνεσις, synesis) in the believer. It testifies to a relational aspect in which both God’s inner love relationship between his revelatory forms (hypostases or persona) is manifested (ad intra), as well as the outward love relationship with man (ad extra). The latter is symbolized in the relationship with his messenger in human form (the Messiah, the Christ). The communicative forms and ways that this Trinitarian revelation takes in the biblical testimony point to the outwardly directed revealing mode of God’s being. On the basis of these ways of communication it shall be examined which communicative position this revealed God has towards man and how he wants to bring himself close to him. The non-revealed characteristics of transcendence remain hidden and form the indissoluble secret or mystery of the Creator. The divine revelation, the Bible, represents the only testimony.

Ways of communication from the divine-transcendent sphere into the human-physical realm of man, are described in the Bible:

– Oral traditions also known as oral-aural transmission (hearsay), such as in Jer 23:27.

– Written revelations, such as the I-words: I say to you, I am … (e.g., Ex 4:23; Isa 46:10; Mk 14:62; Jn 6:35).

Individuals (e.g. Moses, Abraham), subgroups (e.g. families, tribes, etc.) or entire peoples (e.g. Israel, Assyrians, Babylonians) were considered as addressees. Such ways can be distinguished into:

– the direct speaking of God (direct revelation)

o in the form of the voice of God (e.g., Exodus 3:16 in the thorn bush to Moses),

o through dreams (Genesis 40:16) or visions (Ezek 8:4).

– the indirect speaking (partial revelation),

o in writings (Ex 32:16),

o through messengers (Gen 16:9),

o prophets (Isa 38:1; Heb 1:1-2),

o appointed disciples (1Peter 1:1), and

o ordinary people (Jn 4:39).

The term direct revelation, must not obscure the fact that in the Scriptures the God of Israel never showed Himself in His entirety. Jacob and Moses had the most generous revelatory experience, as God approached them in persona (Latin for ‘mask’; Genesis 32:31 and Exodus 33:23). However, the phrase “face to face” פָּנִ֣ים אֶל-פָּנִ֔ים should not be overused, since the overall biblical context makes it clear that no one can perceive God in His entirety (e.g., Jn 1:18; 1 Chronicles 1:18; 1 Chronicles 1:18; 1 Chronicles 1:18). e.g. John 1:18; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 John 4:12). This seems to have been an extraordinary form of revelation that enabled Jacob and Moses to cross the boundary between holiness and profanity. Whether it concerned with this border crossing metaphysical or physical events remains open. In other words, whether here humans approached the state of God or whether the divine transcendence approached the state of humans is not described in more detail.

Another categorization of the channels of the com¬munication orients itself at the direction,

– the communication on horizontal (man-human; community) and vertical (man-God, God-

human) level,

– the social relation of the community to the outside (sociological orientation),

– the religiously conditioned psychological-cognitive level.

This division lends itself to a distinction in the fields of theology and missiology between pragmatic considerations (first level above) and an interdisciplinary theoretical model (latter level).

All examples of divine revelation enter the consciousness of humanity or world conscience (sometimes world consciousness) because of their oral or written transmission (fixation). Within the framework of the history of tradition, even inexplicable events become communicative experiences, which by extension form an integral part of global experience in the communicative sphere. In other words, although some sequences of communication from biblical revelation are unique, e.g., the burning bush from which a voice speaks (Exodus 3:2), this event enters human consciousness through its appearance in Scripture. Revelation contains a conserving component that faces critical examination in human scrutiny for truth and relevance. This is theologically and missiologically significant, since in apologetic treatises the communicative background of the interlocutor must be taken into account, such as the Islamic communicative sphere of experience in dialogue with Muslims and vice versa. The process of revelation today is narrowed by the scriptural revelation of the biblical testimony. Before we go into this, it is necessary to examine the self-revelation of the God of Israel (Hebrew Bible) and the relationship with the world in Christ (Hebrew Bible and New Testament), which is significant in the history of salvation.

Knowledge of the divine channels of communication and the content of revelations derives from biblical revelation itself. In this sense, the Scriptures form both the means of communication and the source of information about the communication revealed therein. This inherent circularity results from any religious revelation that invokes a sphere-transcending source. From a communicative point of view, man thus becomes a passive recipient, target addressee and object of the communication of revelation, but an active partner in the communication in prayer, Bible reading and the proclamation of the contents of revelation (see below).

The self-revelation

At the turn of the Western world, the God of Israel, who refers to Himself as אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה I am (Exodus 3:14), revealed Himself in the incarnate Jesus of Nazareth. This “I AM” traces back to the Tetragrammaton (484a) יהוה (yhwh; TWOT ) as revealed to the prophet Moses. The attributes in the Hebrew Bible pointing to a one-person division (oneness in diversity) are:

– “us/we” (Genesis 1:26 and 11:7; e.g., “let us make man”);

– “the Spirit of God” (Gen. 1:2; 1Sa. 10:10; 12x; “I will send my Spirit” Isa. 44:3)

– “the angel of the Lord” (Gen. 16:7; Ex. 22:23; 164x).

This multiple orientation or better tripartite division of the person יהוה Jahweh into several areas of tasks or revelation, as indicated in the Hebrew Bible, is also concretely realized in the New Testament in the condescension and kenosis (divestiture) of God by the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah.

A threefold orientation for the person of God in the New Testament emerges. The three persona (see above) of the NT are mainly indicated in the image of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Here, the (Jewish) image of the nuclear family and the related closest interpersonal relationship of the Father to the Son is taken up. Since God was thought of in the majority of antiquity as male, the relationship of the mother to the child, which in reality was by all means closer, receded in favor of the father (image of upbringing or family). Other images of relation are expressed in the relation of judge, pardoner, and counselor (legal realm) or teacher, student, and master (educational realm) or commander, soldier, and commander-in-chief (military realm). Within these relational images of relationships, the lines of communication always remain the same because authoritarian structures are confident. Thus, the father is superior to the son, the judge to the accused, the teacher to the disciple, and the commander to the soldier and is accredited to give instructions.

The biblical revelation realizes itself in the transition from the Hebrew Bible to the New Testament or rather from the relationship of the people of Israel to the global church in the up to now world-historically unique appearance of the announced Messiah. In detail this is expressed by:

– The substantial physical incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth. It refers to an approach offer of the until then predominantly unapproachable transcendent creator (exceptions are the prophets Moses, Eliah and king David).

– The condescension (condescence) of divinity and the associated crossing of spheres. This points to the thrust direction from the metaphysical into the physical space of man. Well, however, the opposite direction is to be recognized in the resurrection and ascension. A reversed direction of humans, who could reach from the physical into the metaphysical space by their own effort, as e.g. in Hinduism, which was thought until then and also today again, is rejected by the symbolic function of condescension.

– The physical emptying (kenosis) of Jesus of Nazareth points to the necessity and urgency of human response to the offer of salvation at a time appointed by God (ἐκένωσεν ekénōsen Phil 2:7). Jesus forms the model, since he completely submitted himself to God by emptying his will to be completely at the Father’s disposal.

In sum, these events mean that the process of revelation aligns from the Revealer (יהוה, θεος, κυριος) to the Revealed. The biblical account tells of God revealing Himself to man. But what about the ways of communication? Are these accessible to man, or is he completely at the mercy of the will of divine transcendence to reveal itself, as happened, for example, in dreams or visions? How can man act or react in an answering way? These questions about communicational issues are now dealt with.

Holy Scripture – Anthropos and Theos

In order to answer the posed question, it requires a small detour to the origin of the scriptural revelation. Scripture revelation represents an interplay between divine and human activity. Two scenarios will illustrate this:

We realize a far more extensive revelation of God.

a.         Let us assume – and this is quite realistic – that the scriptural evidence available to us concerning the history of salvation represents only a fraction of what was actually revealed by this God about his person and also came to be written down.

In addition, there is the extensive loss of oral traditions about this God of the Israelites and the messenger Jesus of Nazareth, as can be observed worldwide in the history of literature, even over short periods of time.

b.         It can be assumed that the writings available to us are in themselves abridgements – perhaps even during the lifetime of the authors.

A contrast to this are,

a. the inlibration of the Koran, which is derived from a primordial revelation, which is reflected in the present Koranic text and therefore, according to the thesis, transports no human, but only divine information content.

b. also the Book of Mormon as a stone breath lends itself to such divinity.

c. conceivable, of course, would be a global direct revelation to all people as happened in the chiseling of the commandments in stone (Deut. 4:13 and 5:22) and the writing on the wall for Belshazzar (Dan. 5:5).

All of these approaches (a-c below), however, are so far beyond human reach and are speculative, since neither a disposition of

– a divine original revelation (a below; product of divine thought),

– the revealer / breather (b below; process of revelation),

– nor on its global effective power (c below; God remains inaccessible) exists.

The human authors were aware of their responsibility, and nevertheless they had to decide out of

– personal (e.g., consideration for their environment, health),

– economic (e.g., writing material, finances, reputation in society) or

– time-related (e.g., lack of imagination for the future, educational system),

reasons limit us to a selection. The scriptural evidence of the prophets of the Hebrew Bible available to us can serve as an example here. It can be assumed that the so-called “minor prophets” could have kept up with the “major prophets” in terms of content and importance in terms of revelation. Nevertheless, the author or authors of each book made a selection and thus accepted an – albeit responsible – abridgement. The “great prophets,” on the other hand, were more fully considered. In this selection or appearance of a book, the personality of a prophet is also reflected. In view of this interplay, man, as an individual and as the corpus of Christ (all believers), must be considered the ultimate filter for the textual template of the canon of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament that exists today. The question of the formation of the canon and the inspiration of the biblical text is here considered from a purely anthropocentric point of view, subsequently the divine agency is not accessible to man. Nevertheless, the Holy Scripture remains a sacred work, as it refers back to the author of revelation and thus to the realm of the sacred. The text is not at the mercy of profanation, since the content describes in itself the realm of the non-profane or sacred/sacred.

In order to answer the above question now, how it is with the divine-human communication ways, the text fulfils on the one hand in itself all criteria of human communication and carries on the other hand immanently the stamp of divine self-revelation.

However, a new challenge arises, namely that of the meaning of this text as of divine origin and its transformation into a written communicative-informative revelation.

The eye of the needle of divine communication

Up to now, it could be established that the transmission of communicative contents is based on both the transcendent originator, who made use of human communication channels, and the human author. With the manifestation of the (biblical) canon, which was finally constituted for the Western Church in the course of the Reformation, but already showed relative stability from the 4th century onwards, man is given full responsibility for the administration of revelation. The Holy Scripture, represents the sum of all the canons as a canon and has acted like a pinhole or filter for the worldwide church ever since. This means that the congregation and the Church, by means of this visible tool of control, has at its disposal the wider and invisible divine revelation, on the one hand as guardian of the Scriptures, and on the other hand as responsible for the indigenization of the same, in all the ethnic and linguistic groups of this world. The latter of course only there, where faith falls on fertile ground. To the non-believer it is only a book.

With the Holy Scripture statements about or from God are filtered. Insights or contents that cannot be deduced from the evidence of Scripture fall under the deliberately intended censorship of Scripture. Thereby, the essential more extensive pre-canonical revelation narrows in the course of church history to the text accepted as canon relevant for the respective church. Thus, a Roman Catholic Church considers itself committed to the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, while other churches, such as the Protestant, make gradual distinctions even within the generally accepted 66 books of the Martin Luther Bible and assign different values to the books (e.g., lesser importance of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Epistle of James). The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches of the South and East mostly follow the text of the Septuagint and include in addition to the 39 books of the Protestant canon of the Hebrew Bible:

– History books:

o Esdras (3Ezra), 2nd Esdras (Ezra), Esther (with additions), Tobit, Judith, 1Macc, 2Macc, 3Macc.

– Books of Wisdom:

o Wisdom, Sirach.

– Major Prophets:

o Baruch, BrJer = Letter of Jeremiah, Ez, Dan (with additions).

– Apocrypha or additions:

o Oratio Manasseh, 3Ezra, 4Ezra, Psalm 151.

In addition to the 27 books of the Protestant New Testament canon, these churches have the following canonical books:

-1st and 2nd Epistles of Clement, the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Gospel of Hebrews, the Revelation of Peter.

This development of church history alone points to the essential part and contribution of man. In addition, there is the question of the formation of the canon, which on

– on the one hand, the selection of the books (process of recognition or / and rejection),

– on the other hand, the selection of texts from the total pool of existing text manuscripts (textual criticism) and

– finally to the final editing or definition of the canon and its recognition (church history).

The unresolved questions connected with these processes, the still open global canon of the whole church, cannot be discussed here, but they are highly explosive topics, which additionally underpin the human influence on the formation and shaping of this global canon.

It should be pointed out at this point that this is a temporary narrowing of the communication channels, which will be extended to all conceivable communicative forms at the latest with a further personal direct revelation of the Christ (e.g. Second Coming of the Messiah). Also, a change of state, i.e., into a substantially physically new body, as envisaged in the resurrection, would change the conditions. Such a change of condition would be seen, for example, in the immediate presence of believers living and deceased into the direct presence of the biblically revealed God, as is envisioned as the precedent of the so-called Rapture. This is initiated by the fall of death and is manifested in the millennial kingdom at the Second Coming of Christ. In the direct presence of God, according to divine revelation, direct communication also takes place (e.g. Rev. 7:9-11), which is subject to new conditions and is not subordinate to scriptural revelation.

In summary, this means that Jesus of Nazareth’s time on earth (30-36 years) included the all-encompassing communicative presentation of God, but he is limited to a selection of information for posterity due to the narrowing of time and salvation history in the biblical canon. The Spirit of God acts as a helper and a bridge of the gap, which, however, again submits to the eye of the needle of the written revelation, i.e. the believer has to measure by this scriptural evidence what it is that is of divine origin and will.

From the communicative point of view, the Holy Scripture has developed in the context of church history and specifically for the church into an eye of a needle, which as a filtering element of communicative processes not only

1. is itself a means of communication (translation-specific function), but also

2. directs and controls communication processes (inner-church function) and

3. advances communicative processes (human-divine communication).

The concept of narrowing must not be understood as if revelation wanted to limit man, but by this concentration on a written revelation the way is possible for other ways of revelation (e.g. vision, creation, dream, prophecy etc.), which can be measured against this fixed form. The Holy Spirit impels the Church as the Corpus Christi to apply the test bar to these three communicative functions (1.-3.).

The biblical text is in itself a closed work of revelation which centripetally points to its spiritual-informal core and invites to deal with it. This inviting effect comes from the fascination about the person and effect of Jesus of Nazareth. At the same time, the biblical revelation acts centrifugally as a world-historical document. It reports about the cultures of the antiquity and the religious thought of the election as church and human-historical proof. Within this informal salvation-historical function, Sacred Scripture contains an implicit mandate for communication and translation. Such a mandate relates to all languages and cultures of the world to enable contextualized church structures. Following the enculturation of a person in his or her native cultural group, the indigenization of the message via the realization of the Kingdom of God into the respective cultural and linguistic group represents a parallel development.

By narrowing the divine offer of information and communication by means of the touchstone of the biblical canon, the Holy Scriptures become the bibliocentric heart of church life. It represents the ultimate norm against which ideological developments, church life, the orientation of the diaconate, and the theological interpretation must be measured (see above).

The communication of spiritual truths and knowledge is based on the disciplines of theology, hermeneutics, homiletics, exegesis and auxiliary disciplines like sociology, linguistics, philosophy, psychology and the sciences of communication and translation. The binding link of these disciplines represents divine revelation, which drives interdisciplinary communication and research activity. Its communicative function, informative and appellative, is transported, on the one hand, from within itself (the intrinsic effect of revelation) and, on the other hand, through the Church, as its instrument of proclamation (proclamation and interpretation).

Missiological considerations

Up to this point, we conclude that a Trinitarian model of communication is based on the importance of biblical revelation both as the bearer of communication and as its mediator. In this context, divine communication in the context of self-revelation narrows down to the canon and its filtering function. The change of spheres in the event of incarnation, condescension and kenosis through Jesus of Nazareth foreshadows the missiological orientation of the Kingdom of God. This is reflected in a threefold sending, in the Missio Dei, the Missio Christi and the Missio Spiritus. Within this threefold commission the Missio Dei describes the broader framework of God’s sending of Himself, as well as the worldwide mission of the Church within the framework of Christian development aid and its theoretical foundations from missiology (see below). The Missio Christi describes and advances the methodological concept of the Kingdom of God. The Missio Spiritus describes the theological framework within which the believer moves and which he puts into practice in the diaconate and by Christian development aid. This dynamic image of the threefold assignment represents a relation and cannot be played off against each other or offset. It means that all three areas of the Christian sending commission flow into each other and complement and never exclude each other.

The theological-missiological framework, the Missio Dei, is part and content of the methodological advancement of mission, represented in the concept of the Missio Christi. In the same way, both complement the practical implementation of these frameworks and methods in Christian development aid, which is the Missio Spiritus. According to the interconnectedness and interwoven nature of the Trinity, this mystery cannot be dissolved. This is also true, by the way, of the following communicative Trinitarian interpretation as symbolized by an outward-facing representation.

The model of the threefold mission finds its communicative realization in the 1. Communicatio Dei, 2. Communicatio Christi and 3. Revelatione Spiritus.

– The Communicatio Dei reflects the missionary and theological framework within which the communication of transcendence and its manifestation takes place. This includes the total package of the written, oral and in hearing revealed spectrum of the divine counterpart.

– The Communicatio Christi describes the revelation in the incarnation, the condescension of God in the emptying of Jesus of Nazareth (kenosis) and the self-initiative methodology of transcendence to make use of the human ways of communication (vertical-horizontal axis). This is unique in the history of mankind, because otherwise religions use the human ways of communication only to approach the deity(ies) (horizontal-vertical axis).

– The Revelatione Spiritus describes the implementation of communicative means to confront the individual, the group or even whole ethnic groups with the notion of the Kingdom of God. Since this extends to every conceivable means of communication (dreams, prophecies, visions, self-revelations, salutations, etc.), the Revelatione Spiritus narrows and limits itself to the canon of Scripture.

This argument of the eye of the needle function will be considered here once again in more detail and in terms of its communicative significance.

With the narrowing of divine revelation to the Holy Scriptures, the responsibility to administer the Church and its instrumentalities was transferred to man. This includes the handling and dissemination of the revealed Word, as well as the personal implementation of its ethical and theological premises. From the previously one-sided address of man through transcendence, a double responsibility has since arisen:

– On the one hand, the maintenance of the vertical communicative axis by means of prayer, obedience and attention regarding the divine revelation (Christ-fugal).

– On the other hand, the horizontal communicative axis within the Church and to extra-church circles with regard to brotherly and neighbourly love in the context of the diaconate and Christian development aid (Christ-petal).

From this model, the Communicatio Dei includes not only the missio interna, but also the missio externa. The extent to which this shifts the model or understanding of the missio Dei is not the subject of this study, but it would not be consistent to consider the missio Dei as a superordinate entity, since it forms a transparent-permeable framework that is dynamically woven into the threefold duty of the global Church.

Experienced communication

The model of communication in missiology and theology presented here also has an impact on the academic fields of church history, the science of Bible translation, biblical studies (exegesis, hermeneutics) and homiletics. Furthermore, in the context of the science of Bible translation, ethnology, linguistics, sociology, philosophy and psychology are consulted.

All these disciplines address divine communication and lead to an understanding and comprehension about God through the Bible, which establishes “experienced communication” in the recipient. In this process, the one who is communicatively addressed feels a real experience. This is evident in hermeneutics and personal engagement with the divine revelation. “Experiential communication” goes beyond the physical channels of com¬mu¬ni¬ca¬tion. It enters, as also does prayer, into the psychological-cognitive space of communication. Prayer, Bible reading, the direct speaking of God to man (vision, dream) and indirectly in prayer (impressions, hunches, sensations) give man answers to questions of life. In this sense a com¬mu¬ni¬cative process closes, which ideally starts from the human being, but depends on the will of revelation of the transcendence. This will of revelation narrows down to the inner-biblical revelation, i.e. the Holy Scripture as a filter. Thus, on the one hand, man is open to God’s speaking through the Holy Spirit, but at the same time he is limited to knowledge within the framework of his knowledge of the Bible, since this provides him with a measure and a filter. For example, prophecies, visions or dreams are used as divine channels, but are reduced by the written revelation. The biblical testimony itself opens the possibility for personal edification and also of other persons through direct revelation, if this is measured scrutinizing against the content of the Holy Scripture (1Cor 14; again the Scripture represents the standard).

The human being independently controls the cycle (prayer, readiness to receive), as well as to fall back on the filtering function of the revelation presented by the Scriptures. In this sense he is an equal counterpart to the divine communication partner (Imago Dei) and holds a special position within the framework of creation.

At this point it must be pointed out that there are also interpretations on the basis of the biblical representation, which assign a foreign control to humans. Here it is argued that the Holy Spirit alone motivates, directs and carries out the will and accomplishment of a communicative approach to God. The will of the human being is then based on the fact to arrange himself with this external guidance and to subordinate himself to it. At this point, this interpretation, which raises the question of predestination, shall only be mentioned and left open for further interpretation.

Church Historical Review – Communication Thought

From the perspective of church history, it is the science of Bible translation that conveys the realm of experience of the church in the form of the translation traditions. The canon of the whole church, as the sum of the most diverse canon traditions, manifests itself in the native-language Bible translations. In addition, in the course of the history of Bible translation, the respective condition of the local churches and the global Church is reflected. With regard to this function, it does not make sense to speak of a “higher development” or a “spiritual growth” of the church (vertical axis), but rather it makes sense to speak of the increasing experiential horizon or communication horizon of the church (horizontal axis). Incidentally, this also applies to the individual within the framework of the Church, who does not develop more cognitively, but increases in his spiritual experience. To make this more concrete, it is worthwhile to rummage in history:

– The pre-canonical Church depended on oral tradition and the apostolate and its doctrinal succession (transmission of doctrine). The experience of the Church with Marcion, Gnosticism, Arianism and other influences flowed into the further development of the Church and is reflected in the dogmas and creed (statement of faith) of this period (3rd – 4th century AD).

– The first native translations of the Bible into Semitic languages and dialects, as well as into Armenian, Gothic and Latin, reflect the state of the Church at that time, which was strongly dependent on authorities. Thus, the clergy is emphasized in these translations. For this reason, the Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and individual Near Eastern churches also have a strong tendency toward liturgy and hierarchy.

– With the Reformation, the lay priesthood comes into the consciousness of the Church. The expressions “salvation”, “salvation” and “grace” define the church for the next centuries. Interestingly, the church, which until then had been subordinate to the clergy, is able to adapt to this communicative change, which I would call a “dynamic contextualization”.

This list can easily be expanded and continued using church and theological history. What is important, however, is that the communicative foundation – the filter, that is, the Holy Scriptures – never lost its meaning or value, that is, its inherent persuasive aspect, throughout time although the form, language, and cultural references changed. This phenomenon is grounded in the Trinitarian triad of the Communicatio Dei, the Communicatio Christi and the Revelatione Spiritus. The members of the Church, as part of her posture as conservative guardian and at the same time progressive disseminator of the message, is thereby given a great deal of responsibility to be used creatively and for the benefit of the Kingdom of God.


The complex communicative relationship between the nature of God as “sender” and “messenger” reflect the Trinitarian person-qualities of revealed transcendence. Holy Scripture, as the manifested document about the divine person and activity in church and human history, narrows and thereby reduces the channels of communication in the event of the writing down and fixing of the global canon, which sums up the many individual canons of the churches. This reduction finds its cause in the incarnation, condescension and kenosis of the transcendence in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who gave himself to the will of God. Descriptions about him and the effect of his actions relevant to salvation history – namely his death, resurrection and ascension – are recorded in the testimony of Scripture. With the concretization of scriptures relevant to the Church in the biblical canon, the responsibility of translating, disseminating and implementing the Christian message is completely transferred to man. The previously orally transmitted and more comprehensive revelation is reduced to the authoritative written format. In this function, Scripture acts as a pinhole and communicative filter:

– preceding revelation (canon of the Hebrew Bible),

– subsequent revelation (e.g., visions, dreams, prophecy), it

– is a source of information on theologically and missiologically relevant questions, and

– development relevant to church history (e.g., dogma, creed, faith orientation).

As a source of sacred and sacral content that transcends the human sphere, it indicates a crossing of spheres that proves to be Christ-centric on the one hand and Christ-fugal on the other. The former draws man toward revelation in order to bring him close to God and also to keep him there (e.g., fascination with the church). The latter drives him away from this center, out to his fellow men, in order to bring them close to the sphere of Christ.

The communicative reality contained in the dynamically interwoven concept of the Missio Dei, Missio Christi and Missio Spiritus corresponds to the triad of the Communicatio Dei, Communicatio Christi and the Revelatione Spiritus. To this Trinitarian harmony corresponds the Communicatio Dei as a theological and missiological framework within which transcendence is revealed to man. The Communicatio Christi is revealed through the manifestation of the Christ in the Incarnation, the Condescension and the Kenosis (emptying). In doing so, it makes use of the human channels of communication. In order to confront the individual, the group or whole ethnic groups with the Kingdom of notions about God, the Revelatione Spiritus narrows and limits itself to the canon of Holy Scripture as the touchstone and measure of the Church.

The history of the Church, the history of Bible translation and Christian development aid reflect the vertical expansion of the experiential realm of the global Corpus Christi. This expansion is based on the delegation of responsibility in establishing a written revelation. The believing person is given the global responsibility and opportunity to provide people from all cultures and languages with access to the essence and Trinitarian personhood of God יהוה, θεος, κυριος (yhwh, theos, kyrios) revealing Himself in the Holy Scriptures. The science of Bible translation is instrumental in this triad of the Communicatio Dei, the Communicatio Christi, and the Revelatione Spiritus. It does this in particular by providing methods and models of communication and translation in formation. These enable the (biblical) translator to actively choose a model or mix of models for his or her project. In this sense, the recipient is provided with a contextualized set of information that enables him or her to access the Scriptures in a culturally and linguistically relevant way.