This story was originally published in Christianity Today and can be read here.
Most of the theological writings that shaped Western society over the last 500 years cannot be found on Middle Eastern bookshelves. Few Arabs have ever read anything from John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, or Karl Barth.
The reason is simple: Almost none of the Protestant canon has been translated into Arabic.
The dearth of Christian religious texts in the world’s fourth-largest language is especially pronounced within Protestantism, which developed in European languages such as Latin, French, German, and English. The Reformation has barely broken into the Arabic-speaking world, dominated by Islam and where most local Christians—whose numbers are dwindling fast—are inheritors of Orthodox or Catholic theologies.
Nearly a decade ago, George Sabra, president of the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, had the notion to translate perhaps the most influential writing of the Reformation, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, into Arabic for the first time.
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