Culture At Large

Rules of Engagement for Bible Translation

Chris Salzman

Language is a tricky thing. Ask anyone who studies language, they'll tell you certain words just don't translate well. Frustrating, yes, but even more so when the Bible is involved. Hence why it takes so long to do a good accurate translation.

I like hearing about Bible translation efforts.They're usually brimming with amazing experiences. Also, Bible translators usually think very very hard about the why and how of what they're doing.

Check out this list of Best Bible Axioms posted by Lingamish (who himself is working on translating the Nyungwe Bible):

  1. God intends for the Bible to be communicated to all peoples in all times.
  2. A translation of the Bible is the Word of God.
  3. A translation should approximate the meaning of the original in understandable language.
  4. A team of experts producing a translation has more chance of conveying the original message than a single expert criticizing their work afterwards.
  5. Ancient concepts in the original may be expressed in contemporary translation without resorting to archaic language.
  6. There are many instances in the original documents where we are unsure of the meaning. A translation will note this through footnotes or other means.
  7. Translations are produced within ideological frameworks and traditions.
  8. Every tribe and tongue and nation is entitled to have the Bible translated in their language regardless of the size or prestige of the group.
  9. Unless the Bible is translated into a language, the Gospel has not been proclaimed in that language.
  10. What would you add for #10?

Lingamish works in the Tete province in Mozambique,which you can see on the Western side of the country. Currently, they have a portion of the bible translated.

Click on the map to go to a larger version:

I'll echo his Number 10: what would you add to that list? Anything you disagree with? Other thoughts?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, The Bible