Post Tenebras Lux
After Darkness, Light
This is the Latin phrase that spans the Reformation Wall in Geneva.
We recently visited Geneva and stood in awe of this incredible monument to those that truly reformed the Church and paved the way for Protestantism as we know it today. The four primary men honored here are William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. Then, there are six other figures and eight historical events depicted along the wall.
A couple small details to point out:
The inscription below the 4 reformers says ΙΗΣ, which is called a "Christogram". There are a few of these used in history, but this one stands for the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. It was a way to use a symbol to represent Christ on many different statues or letters or church buildings.
It's too hard to see in this pictures, but spanning the entire wall is this phrase: Post Tenebras Lux - after darkness, light. As the motto of the reformers (and now also for the city of Geneva), it referred to the light that came with the Reformation as people could now see the real Truth that was being taught in Scriptures. People were no longer in darkness but could understand God's Word.
A key motivation of the reformers was to get the Bible into languages that people could read for themselves. Sound familiar? In their day, the Latin Bible ruled the church, but Bibles in everyday languages, like English, were either non-existent or impossible (illegal) to get your hands on. Can you imagine that?
It's hard for us to put ourselves in the shoes of those that are still Bibleless, but this is the exact situation they find themselves in today. Often the Bible read in church is in a language they don't know and a copy of God's Word in their language is still non-existent.
There are many reasons why translation work gets done around the world. Ultimately, we want people to be able to worship God in their own heart language. Often as a side benefit, languages are developed, sustained, and given dignity through the work of translation.
But learning about the reformers brings out another reason to have a translation in your own language: it gives power to the body of the church. We have the ability to look in our own copies of God's Word to know if what is being taught is truth and can hold up against what God says. For the reformers, they thought it was necessary that every member of the church should have that power.
And we think so, too.
Post Tenebras Lux