Scripture Engagement Essentials

Social and Cultural Factors Necessary for Vernacular Bible Translation to Achieve Maximum Effect
Author: T. Wayne Dye
Published by: International Journal of Frontier Missions (26.2 Summer 2009)

The listing of these Eight Conditions or eight categories of factors used as a tool for evaluation can prevent surprises and help the church, missionaries, and Bible translators alike to focus on those activities that are likely to have maximum impact. It’s the great longing of my heart that the people groups of the world will not only have the Scriptures in their heart language, but that the Scriptures will have greatest spiritual effect.

Wayne Dye presents eight conditions affecting the use or non-use of the translated Scriptures:

  1. Appropriate Language, Dialect and Orthography
  2. Appropriate Translation
  3. Accessible Forms of Scripture
  4. Background Knowledge of the Hearer
  5. Availability
  6. Spiritual Hunger of Community Members
  7. Freedom to Commit to Christian Faith
  8. Partnership Between Translators and Other Stakeholders
  [more...]
Assessing the benefit of local language Scriptures among the bilingual Malila and Nyiha communities of Tanzania
Author: Mark Woodward

MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College, UK (2014)

Abstract:

In many ways the Malila and Nyiha are typical of Tanzania's numerous multilingual communities, where both Swahili and the local language are used as part of everyday life. Given that there are several versions of the Swahili Bible, two of which are generally available in the larger cities, it is often unclear as to what, if any, benefit will be gained from the long and arduous task of translating Scripture portions into the local language.

In this study I first look at the impact of translated Scriptures throughout the history of the church, and what insights might be gained from the sociolinguistic literature concerning the way multilingual communities use and perceive each language that they speak. I then carry out research among the Malila and Nyiha communities, asking them what they feel has been the impact of having access to Scriptures in their local languages in addition to the Swahili Bible. Finally I discuss the perspectives shared by the community members and church leaders, making recommendations for decision makers in other multilingual communities who may be considering translating Scriptures into their local language.

This study concludes that the benefits of translation may extend far beyond simply an increase in comprehension, and so decision makers would do well to bear in mind the fact that sociolinguistic principles play a significant role in how Scriptures are perceived, and should therefore be fully considered when contemplating how a community might best access the Bible.

Download as a PDF document below:  [more...]

A study of meditative engagement with selected psalms amongst Edinburgh students
Author: Fergus Macdonald
Published by: University of Edinburgh

"...the creative engagement between respondents and text results from respondents discovering that the psalms resonate with their idealism and basic human needs in ways that facilitate their ongoing spiritual quest for meaning and enlightenment, as well as providing an opportunity to confront God with complaints and dilemmas."

This study is the account of an empirical research programme in practical theology exploring the potential of the Book of Psalms to facilitate the spiritual journey of a sample of University of Edinburgh students aged between twenty and thirty who are on or beyond the fringes of the churches. Drawing upon some insights of the Bible Society movement regarding ‘scripture engagement,’ and in the wider context of increasing interest in spirituality and decreasing confidence in the churches among many westernised young adults, the project seeks to answer two research questions.  [more...]

Author: Pauline Hoggarth
Published by: Global Christian Library, Langham Creative Projects (2011)

The Seed and the Soil explores the power of the Bible that brings about God’s transforming and liberating purposes, as well as its power as an often oppressively misused text. Characterised by a wide variety of storytelling, this book is accessible to all that read it.

Available: May 2011

The Seed and the Soil is available for pre-order.  [more...]

Author: Margaret Hill

Common factors emerge that affect Scripture use: level of literacy, prestige of the language, and attitude of church leaders.

A wide variety of reasons account for published Scriptures not being used. They include a lack of literacy, a language that is dying or has low status, a translation rejected by church leaders, an inappropriate published format, a lack of distribution, a lack of contextualization when using Scriptures, and others. A summary of the conditions necessary for seeing Scripture used is also offered.  [more...]

Manuel pour faire un bon usage de la Bible dans chaque langue et culture
Authors: Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill
Published by: Presses Bibliques Africaines (2011)

"Ce manuel est un guide efficace pour une bonne préparation à l'étude biblique, à la méditation, à la prédication intégrant les réalitiés culturelles de chaque peuple."

This is the French version of the book Translating the Bible into Action by Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill. It is also available in Portuguese.

The French version can be obtained from Wycliffe Benin in Cotonou or from the SU department of SIL in Nairobi.  [more...]

Author: Bettina Gottschlich
Published by: Fuller Theological Seminary, Doctor of Intercultural Studies dissertation (2012)

Abstract:
This dissertation contributes to the missiological conversation on transformational Scripture engagement. Translation into the mother–tongue and good distribution by themselves are insufficient to enable multi–lingual Budu believers of Congo–Kinshasa translate the Bible into action and changed lives. Literature surveyed on Scripture engagement, biblical theology of mission and contextualization revealed that effectiveness seems to be handicapped by the lack of connecting and integrating the people’s story in its wider historical context into God’s story, as presented in the totality of Scripture and understood through relevant themes and motifs. In light of a history of a largely non–contextualized gospel, the model of biblical theology in context including creative solutions to language in a multilingual environment could offer a way forward.

This qualitative research identifies and documents Scripture resources that enable life–transforming Scripture engagement among Budu believers from their point of view. It further identifies measurable indicators that determine what constitutes verifiably effective engagement. The research methodology consisted of qualitative methods to collect and grounded theory to analyze the data from 36 interviews and 36 focus groups, participant observation and document research, representing the whole of the Budu region and its church leadership. The findings revealed the emic view that I classify in two key themes of “People” as Scripture resources and “Ministry” Scripture resources.

The data collected is used to develop a change strategy together with Budu leadership to enable Budu believers encounter God’s Word in life–transforming ways using context–appropriate Scripture resources. My recommendations call for two important changes: (1) altering our comprehension of what constitutes a Scripture resource; (2) using this knowledge to enable Budu believers complete God’s story in a way that it becomes “readable” through the messengers individually and communally and communicated through appropriated means of communication. I specifically address the issue of leaders as promoters of transformation in the largely but not only communal and oral context of African believers. As these leaders find their place within God’s story, and become “living Scripture resources”, credible conveyers of the Word of God, they will be able to lead others towards life–transforming engagement with Scripture.

-- For information about this dissertation, please contact Bettina Gottschlich at bettinagottschlichatgmail [dot] com  [more...]

How the Bible can be Relevant in all Languages and Cultures
Authors: Harriet Hill, Margaret Hill
Published by: Piquant (2008)

"Clear, simple and readable - very practical, fully supported with further reading ... exactly the kind of thing that is needed."
Chris Wright, Langham Partnership

A tried and tested resource that encourages meaningful Bible use in multi-lingual contexts through both written and oral media.

Individual chapters can be used as a standalone interactive workshop in church or mission contexts. Chapters (with further reading) are also appropriate as a text for graduate studies. Includes activities, assignments, further reading resources and links for useful websites.

Also available as an e-book for Kindle.  [more...]

A report of a seminar for Ejagham pastors from Cameroon and Nigeria
Author: Chris Jackson

One pastor reported, 'I never understood grace like that before. I think I can learn a great deal using the Ejagham New Testament in my Bible study. And my people need to hear this so that they will understand better as well.'

This brief article describes a two-day multi-denominational seminar for Ejagham pastors from Cameroon and Nigeria. It mentions some aspects of the workshop, including learning to read Ejagham, translating key terms, and the use of the Ejagham song book. It quotes several success stories recounted at the workshop that resulted from people using the Ejagham New Testament.  [more...]

Author: Katherine O’Donnell

MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College (2013)

Abstract:

This study examines both what Tanzanian Christians think about the Bible and the way they engage with it, through a review of the literature on Bible use in Africa and primary research in the Mbeya-Iringa Cluster Project of SIL International. Data was gathered through a mixed method approach using questionnaires (with respondents selected through purposive sampling across four language areas) and a group interview (with the Literacy/Scripture Use Coordinators who administered the questionnaires).

The research revealed that Tanzanians commonly see the Bible as the Word of God, though what they mean by this is less clear. Preaching, prayer meetings, Bible seminars and songs were most commonly ranked as very important for growing in faith. Further, respondents most frequently engaged with the Bible by reading or listening to it at church (80%), reading alone (55%), singing (47%) or praying (45%). There was a clear discrepancy between their level of Bible engagement and the importance they ascribed to it. Only 63% owned a complete Swahili Bible, while far fewer used mother-tongue Scriptures. Most people seemed to interpret the Bible simply and directly, but not always contextually or accurately, and saw the Bible’s central message as being one of judgement, sin or salvation. Variations were sometimes found between genders, denominations and language areas.

Amongst other things, the findings suggest that Scripture Engagement workers should use methods appropriate for oral and communal societies, provide training for pastors and lay Christians in hermeneutics and other Bible engagement tools and facilitate the distribution of Christian literature.  [more...]