Academic Training

Academic Training Necessary for Text Production Personnel

There are four key positions in the Text Production Department: translation consultant, field translator, literacy consultant, and linguistics consultant. At this point in Bibles International’s ministry, we typically recommend that candidates for the latter two positions plan on working in both areas, linguistics and literacy, after they join BI. Therefore, the training recommendations will be given with that understanding. The translation consultant position and the field translator position are quite distinct, but the technical training needed for both are basically the same. We usually recommend that candidates pursue becoming a translation consultant, unless he/she has a particularly strong aptitude for learning languages and also has a burden for an unreached language group. Field translators would need to learn the target language and also be involved in church planting work. Therefore, candidates for that position should also pursue training in church planting work. For language groups in which there are churches already established, we prefer to use national believers who are mother-tongue speakers of the language.

Translation Consultant

It is difficult to find an undergraduate program specifically geared for students who want to be translation consultants or field translators. It is also difficult to find faculty in places of higher education that understand how to advise such a student. The student, therefore, will need to plan their own educational program with counsel from those in the field already and the Lord's guidance. The information below gives a general indication of some of the areas of concentration for the undergraduate level.

(a) Undergraduate

(i) Degree concentrations:

1. Missions

2. Biblical languages

3. Communication

4. Cultural anthropology (from a Christian perspective)

(ii) Specific areas or courses:

1. Bible and theology, with emphasis on exegesis/hermeneutics

2. Communication, both verbal and written, including cross-cultural communication

3. Foreign language

4. Linguistics

5. Cultural anthropology (from a Christian perspective)

6. Psychology, especially educational psychology

7. Translation theory, focus on Bible translation

(b)  Graduate

(i) Bible (MA in Bible Translation or equivalent)—areas to emphasize:

1. Bible Translation Theory and Practice
2. Biblical Language(s) (proficient in at least one; ideally, proficient in both)

More precisely, the minimum standard expected is a basic knowledge of the morphology, syntax and discourse structure of the language; the ability to make use of lexicons, other technical reference materials (e.g., grammars, word studies), and technical commentaries (i.e., commentaries that discuss the original language); the ability to read the original text with understanding (with minimal help from reference tools); and a commitment to use and develop this knowledge. Such proficiency usually requires at least two years of graduate level training in the language. Therefore, additional training beyond a MA in BT will probably be needed.

3. Biblical Hermeneutics/Exegesis
4. Systematic and Biblical Theology
5. Historical and Cultural Background of the Bible
6. Cross-Cultural Communication
7. Missions

(c) Linguistics (the recommended track for translation consultants is one summer at Bob Jones University’s Missionary Linguistics Program and one summer at the Summer Institute of Linguistic’s summer program at the University of North Dakota; other training can be achieved by reading books)

  1. Phonetics/Phonology
  2. Morphology (this subject is often combined with syntax or typology)
  3. Syntax/Grammar
  4. Discourse
  5. Semantics/Pragmatics
  6. Typology
  7. Sociolinguistics
  8. Cultural Anthropology
  9. Language Acquisition
  10. Field Methods
  11. Literacy
  12. (Lexicography—primarily for linguistics consultants)

(d)  Other: Majority Language (French, Spanish, or Portuguese)

One key principle must be guarded—strong biblical training must not be compromised for strong linguistic training.  Though linguistics is extremely important for Bible translation, it must not overshadow the importance of biblical studies (hermeneutics, theology, and background studies).

Field Translator

(a) Undergraduate

TTT1.  Missions
TTT2. Church planting

(b)  Graduate (see above under Translation Consultant)

Linguistics/Literacy Consultant

(a)  Undergraduate—degree concentrations:
  1. Missions
  2. Education
  3. Modern language
  4. TESOL
  5. Communication
  6. Linguistics
  7. Cultural anthropology (from a Christian perspective)
(b) Graduate

TTT1.  Linguistics (see above under Translation Consultant/Graduate/Linguistics)

(c)  Literacy
  1. Materials and methods in literacy
  2. Writing systems
  3. Curriculum development
  4. TESOL
  5. Teaching methodology
  6. Reading education
  7. Creative writing
  8. Scripture Use

Of course, all candidates will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, since all come with varied educational backgrounds, experiences, and aptitudes. Each candidate will be linked up with a senior consultant so that the latter can evaluate the candidate’s progress, give guidance on future decisions, and provide the candidate with the consultant skills that cannot be taught in a classroom.


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