A Targum from Sri Lanka
Communicating the truth of Scripture to the next generation is not a new problem. During the Second Temple period, the Jewish Rabbis created Targums to teach the Jewish Scriptures. In a Targum, the text of Scripture would be read together with spoken paraphrases, explanations and expansions so that the text would become clearer and relevant to the listeners.
Here is an excerpt of a Targum of Mary’s song — the Magnificat — found in Luke 1:46–55, written by staff of FOCUS Sri Lanka:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…
My heart is filled with joy, every part of me feels thankful when I consider who you are and what you have done. You don’t look at the world, your creation, the way others look at it. You don’t consider a person’s age, wealth, heritage, popularity, ability, influence or academic background when you choose to bless. Elizabeth is old and barren… yet she is pregnant. I am young and a virgin… yet I have conceived. You are the Creator and Sustainer of all things. The whole world belongs to you. Yet, you chose me — a young girl from a remote village in a forgotten place in the Roman Empire. You saw me, you cared for me, you considered me worthy to be part of this new thing that you are about to do in the world.
“From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name…
I cannot believe it! Hundreds and thousands of Jewish women throughout history have wanted to be in this position. In the years to come people from everywhere will read and hear about my story. They will play my part in dramas and movies, they will preach sermons about me, they will sing songs about me. So many would wish they were me… but who am I? I am nothing. Nothing that I have, is of my own doing. It is all you, O Lord.
“His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation…
There is no other like you. You are not stingy with your grace. You are not like Santa Claus giving gifts only to those who are good. No, you are the most generous giver. You desire for us to know you. You wish that we would receive your love. You want to bless us and give us good gifts like a parent gives to their child. You want us to follow you because it is good for us. You have done this for years and years. Many people in history have experienced it. I too, have experienced it. I long for my family, my friends, my classmates, my society to experience it too.
How about writing your own Targum to help you reflect on part of the nativity story? Find out more about the process of writing a Targum on the IFES Scripture Engagement blog and give it a go!
You can read the full text of the FOCUS team’s Targum on the FOCUS Sri Lanka blog. This article is based on the original blog post by Yohan Abeynaike, General Secretary, FOCUS Sri Lanka
Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.