The Importance of Vocation – page 3


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From the Summer 2018 issue of Knowing & Doing:

The Importance of Vocation

by Mark R. Talbot, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Wheaton College

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Our Divine Vocation 

  The word vocation obviously has more than a whiff of the religious to it, but insofar as the whiff suggests “a divine call to a [specifically] religious career” – that is, to something like full-time Christian ministry, as that phrase is usually meant – it steers us the wrong way.

What Were We Made For?

  We can see this by examining the first of the Scripture passages that you were asked to meditate on for this session: Genesis 1:26-28. Here is one translation of it:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
        in the image of God he created him;
        male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

  This is the English Standard Version. The New Living Translation reads similarly concerning the point I’m about to make. I want you to see that serious Bible students need to be reading more than one translation for, as the old saw goes, Every translator is a traitor.5 Translation always requires choices and sometimes those choices leave out some important nuance of the original text. In fact, serious Bible students need to be reading the best commentaries on Scripture because otherwise they will inevitably miss important details in God’s Word. To see what the ESV has missed here, listen to the 2011 NIV translation of verse 26. Can you spot what it brings out that the ESV does not?

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”


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