Bible Translation

A case study from the Paez of Columbia
Author: Marianna Slocum

We have found that these three factors—the credibility factor, the comprehension factor, and the prestige factor—are all-important components in promoting the use of a newly introduced vernacular translation in a newly written language.

This case history of the Paez, a minority language group in the Andean highlands of Colombia, South America, shows how the credibility and comprehension of the mother-tongue Scriptures and the prestige of the mother tongue affect the acceptance of the Scriptures. It considers how these factors can be addressed, noting the importance of using translators that are respected by the community, the production of high quality linguistic materials (e.g. dictionary and grammar books) and the value of producing a diglot glossary of key terms.  [more...]

Thoughts on the relationship between the financing of translation projects and the use of the scriptures in Burkina Faso
Author: Ed Lauber

We need to enlarge our thinking about the contribution of the church to the translation effort. Casting that contribution principally in terms of cash contributions to the translators’ salaries limits options and may even have a negative impact on the use of the translation. Adopting a more complex partnership approach to finances will result in better partnership and may, therefore, positively affect the use of the Scriptures.

Ed Lauber explores the relationship between funding of translation projects and the use of the Scriptures in Burkina Faso. He believes there is often a link, albeit sometimes weak. Where the link is strong, it is often complex and related to other factors.  [more...]

Reducing the time from translation desk to Scripture engagement
Author: Richard Margetts

"If the food is ready and the people are hungry,
don’t put it in the freezer and tell them to come back later."

The title of this article sprang from a discussion we had during a training course for Scripture Engagement practitioners in Yaoundé, Cameroon. From their experience of working with Bible translation teams across francophone Africa, the participants knew that it could take a very long time before completed portions (such as individual Bible books) got from the translator’s desk and into the hands of the people. The ‘food’ would be ‘put in the freezer’ waiting for the day when it would finally be served to those hungry to receive it.

So why does this happen? If the people are hungry for God’s Word in their own language, why would a translation team take this spiritual food and store it away in the freezer for another day? What is causing the delay? Isn’t there something we can do to reduce the time from translation desk to Scripture engagement?  [more...]

Enjeux et défis pour l'Afrique francophone
Author: Michel Kenmogne
Published by: Editions CLE, Yaoundé / Wycliffe International, Nairobi (2009)

This book - 'Bible Translation and the Church: Issues and challenges for Francophone Africa' - was written as part of the Francophone Initiative in collaboration with CITAF (Conseil des Institutions Théologiques d’Afrique Francophone) - a consortium of evangelical theological institutions in Africa.

The aim is to introduce into the programme of every theological college a course on the importance of Bible translation and the role of local languages in the mission of the church.

The chapters are divided into five main sections:

  1. Pourquoi traduire la Bible dans les langues locales? (Why translate the Bible into local languages?)
  2. L'histoire de la traduction de la Bible depuis Néhémie jusqu'à nos jours (The history of Bible translation from Nehemiah to today)
  3. Théologie et traduction de la Bible (Theology and Bible translation)
  4. Traduction de la Bible: contexte, structures et méthodes (Bible translation: context, structures and methods)
  5. Bible et héritage colonial francophone (The Bible and the colonial heritage)
  [more...]
Published by: Lion Hudson

Five years ago Lion Hudson (a UK based publisher) was approached by the United Bible Societies with the need for an illustrated re-telling of the Bible narrative that was suitable for a wide age range including adults, culturally appropriate for non Western readers and which could be printed at a price that made it affordable for a mass market in the two thirds world with minimum or no subsidy. The organisations settled on a long-standing and successful title - The Lion Children's Bible - as the book that best met this requirement.  [more...]

Author: David L Payne

One of the major obstacles for the acceptance of an idiomatic translation of the Scriptures into a vernacular language where there is some form of established church is that often there is a strong veneration of a translation of the Scriptures in the national language.

In the translation project for the Asheninka language of Peru, the team was faced with resistance to the idiomatic translation in the vernacular because of a strong attachment to an old Spanish translation. To assuage this resistance, they attempted to teach translation principles to the Asheninka lay pastors and to discuss with them the benefits of idiomatic translation, but both activities met with little success. However, a change of attitude came through a series of seminars that educated them about the source of the venerated Spanish version and the kinds of adjustments that were made in translating it from Greek to Spanish.  [more...]

The first foot forward in Scripture selection?
Author: Rick Brown
Published by: International Journal of Frontier Missions (18.4 Winter 2001)

Most frontier Bible translators would agree that one of the major goals of their role in the total mission task is that the receptor language community would gain access to adequate Scriptures. Scriptures may be defined as being "adequate" when they include (1) a selection of portions from the Old and New Testaments sufficient to address the basic spiritual needs of that community; (2) in a language that serves them well; and (3) in usable, appropriate media such that motivated members of their community are able to use them for personal growth and church planting.

In this paper, Rick Brown seeks to answer the following questions regarding the adequacy and accessibility of translated Scriptures:  [more...]

From Translation to Communication
Author: Harriet Hill
Published by: St. Jerome Publishing

Bible translators have focused their efforts on preparing a text that is clear, natural and accurate, with the expectation that audiences will understand the message if it is in their language. Field research among the Adioukrou of Côte d'Ivoire shows that audiences also need to have access to the contextual information the author expected his audience to bring to the text. When such information is provided, both understanding of and interest in the message increase dramatically. These findings support Relevance Theory's claim that meaning is inferred from the interaction of text and context.  [more...]

Stories of Translation
Author: Steve Fortosis
Published by: William Carey Library, 2012

From the publisher's description:

"Some decades ago the prospect of reaching the entire world with the gospel appeared very dim indeed. In a world population that was virtually exploding with growth, how could Christians begin to reach the billions of fellow humans? Then missionaries began mastering the multiplied languages on earth, placing the Bible on paper, making recordings of the gospel, and beaming the Word of God out on radio and television waves. A portion of the Bible was translated painstakingly into over a thousand languages. The entire Bible was translated into several hundred. There was reason to be hopeful. Missionaries taught nationals how to plant churches. Then nationals started planting churches, and churches begat churches... Bible translators had and continue to play a crucial role in the mission of reaching every people with the gospel, and this book describes how. Follow them into the fascinating, exciting world of Bible translation."

Endorsement from Bob Creson, president of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA:

"This book richly demonstrates how Bible translators wrestle to satisfy two priorities: staying true to the meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, and expressing that meaning clearly to speakers of amazingly diverse languages. It highlights a simple, yet profound truth: understanding God’s Word is key to knowing Him. While giving tribute to generations of Western translators, it also touches on the changing nature of the translation process, with mother tongue translators assuming more responsibility and multicultural teams working together to quicken the pace and quality of Bible translation."  [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...]