Academic Training Necessary for Text Production Personnel
There are four key positions in the Text Production Department: Translation Consultant, Bible 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 Bible translator position are quite distinct, but the technical training needed for both are basically the same. We usually recommend that a candidate 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. Bible 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.
It is difficult to find an undergraduate program specifically geared for students who want to be translation consultants or Bible 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.
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).
The main difference in academic training between Translation Consultant and Bible Translator is that we do not require a graduate degree, though we prefer that. We also require that you take a course in linguistic field methods (and recommend courses in literacy and lexicography) and that men get ordained into the ministry, since they will be engaging in church planting work.
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.