When it comes to the major world religions Christianity differs greatly for many reasons. One of the areas particularly deals with the issue of translation. The Christian faith is translatable across both time and throughout differing cultures. Lamin Sanneh, professor of World Christianity at Yale, has touched on this important issue. For example, Sanneh writes:
"Being the original Scripture of the Christian movement, the New Testament Gospels are a translated version of the message of Jesus, and that means Christianity is a translated religion without a revealed language...The missionary environment of the early church made translation and the accompanying interpretation natural and necessary....If we view Christian origins in the light of the translated milieu of the church, then we come upon a remarkable point with respect to the history of religions. Christianity seems unique in being the only world religion that is transmitted without the language or originating culture of its founder" (Whose Religion is Christianity? pg. 97-98).
For a comparison point let us look at the spread of Islam. Wherever the Islamic religion spreads the Koran is always read in Arabic. Any version of the Koran that is in another language other than Arabic is viewed by Muslims as being something less than the holy Koran. In other words, differing from Christianity, Islam is not a translatable religion. The Koran is not readily translated into the mother-tongue of the culture.
A major issue in Christian missions involves translating the Scriptures into the mother-tongues of the people groups all over the world. This is no easy process and in many ways calls for huge time commitments and great patience. There are many factors that go into translation. Here's one example I recently heard about. I unfortunately do not remember where this particular people group exists (if you know the story making you could leave it in the comments section for us). Some missionaries went to a particular people group only to discover that this group had never seen a sheep/lamb. They had no clue what one looked like, etc. Now, we know the Scriptures talk about Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In our Western abstract thinking we can put things together and understand what that means. Other cultures don't think that way. The missionaries had a problem with translation. However, they did discover that pigs were very prominent among this people group. For example, if a person visited these people they would gather beforehand and debate and decide who would sacrifice their pig for the welcome feast. The pigs were viewed as being part of the family. So then, the family that sacrificed their pig for the feast subsequently took the visitor into their family in place of the pig. Ultimately, the missionaries to this people group translated Jesus to them as "the Pig of the World." In our English context this would probably be found as offensive to many. But Christianity is translatable across cultures and this is a fine example. The principle remains the same: Through Jesus we all are brought into the family of God. This is why it is important for us to remember that when we approach the Scriptures we apply the timeless principles, not necessarily the words themselves.
The following video is from Tyndale House. It involves a discussion of scholars regarding the use of the word "slave" in the ESV translation of the Bible. I found this video via a link from Bible and Mission at Twitter. It is a small glimpse of the difficulty of translation and all this it entails.