Academic Training

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.

Translation Consultant

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.

  • Undergraduate degree, with the following qualifications preferred:
    • Degree concentrations:
      • Bible
      • Missions
      • Biblical languages
      • Communication
      • Cultural Anthropology (from a Christian perspective)
    • Specific areas of coursework:
      • Bible and theology, with emphasis on exegesis/hermeneutics
      • Communication, both verbal and written, including cross-cultural communication
      • Historical and cultural background of the Bible
      • Missions (especially cross-cultural dynamics)
  • Graduate degree
    • Bible (with proficiency in Greek and/or Hebrew)
      • Areas of particular interest are Bible translation theory and practice, biblical language(s), biblical hermeneutics and exegesis, historical and cultural background of the Bible, systematic and biblical theology, and missions (especially cross-cultural dynamics); textual criticism is helpful but not absolutely necessary.
        • In reference to biblical languages, 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.
    • Linguistics training of at least 6 courses in linguistics
      • Areas of particular interest are phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax/grammar, discourse, semantics and pragmatics, typology, sociolinguistics, cultural anthropology, language acquisition, field methods, literacy, and lexicography.
      • Recommended linguistics training track: MA in Intercultural Studies at Bob Jones University.
  • Training and reading in translation theory and practice
  • Speaking and reading fluency in a language other than English

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).

Bible Translator

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.

Linguistics/Literacy Consultant

  • Undergraduate degree
    • Degree concentrations:
      • Missions
      • Education
      • Linguistics
      • Literacy
      • TESOL
      • Modern language
      • Communication
      • Cultural anthropology (from a Christian perspective)
    • Specific areas of coursework for literacy:
      • Materials and methods in literacy
      • Writing systems
      • Curriculum development
      • TESOL
      • Teaching methodology
      • Reading education
      • Creative writing
      • Scripture Use
  • Graduate degree
    • Linguistics degree required for Linguistics Consultant
    • Advanced training in literacy and linguistics required for Literacy Consultant if not concentrated on in undergraduate training

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.