Text Formation For Transformation

It does not take much knowledge about Bible translation to realize that a lot of work goes into translating any word, verse, paragraph, or book of the Bible. A vast team is necessary to do this job well, including translators, national committees, consultants, administrators, and support staff, not to mention myriads of God’s people who support the work through prayer and financial support. The singular purpose that drives every one of these team members is described throughout this edition: the real transformation of real people for the glory of God through their trust in His word.

Certainly, the task of bridging the gap between the message of a translated Bible and national churches cannot be done well without teamwork, forethought, and wisdom. This gap is not only linguistic, philosophical, and spiritual—it is also very practical. We cannot forget that we must carry the Scripture text itself across that gap! Given the well-translated text on the one hand and eagerly anticipating recipients on the other, we must help connect the two in practical ways.

The literacy and linguistics team of BI’s Text Production Department (TPD) has been assisting national believers to read the Scriptures through multiple means for many years. Moreover, conducting linguistics analysis with the nationals, developing literacy materials using translated Bible verses, and providing literacy teacher training have long been activities of the TPD. Translation consultants in the TPD benefit from linguistics analysis to help translators produce better Bibles. However, as they seek to minister to national believers, TPD consultants are often limited in their access to literacy teachers, translation committees, and translators. BI’s new Scripture Engagement Department (SED) will help TPD consultants bridge the gap to national churches.

One way for the SED to accomplish this is through the circulation of translated texts. Materials containing Scripture portions such as Bible studies, Bible storybooks, tracts, and more, will draw eyes to the translated text while it is still in the formation process. As pastors teach and preach from these Scripture portions, and as people in churches interact with one another through the Word, they can provide valuable feedback to improve the translation.

This feedback, retrieved by the SED, is critical to the understanding, acceptance, and use of the Bible once it is printed. When these suggestions come from the national believers and are cycled back to the translators via the SED, the TPD can determine how to improve the text while maintaining a conservative translation philosophy. Once the changes are incorporated, the cycle begins again as the SED circulates more Scripture portions among the churches.

Lord willing, all of this interaction will make the translation itself better than ever. At the same time, God’s people are enabled and encouraged to speak the truth to one another, growing in the knowledge of God’s Word by means of healthy, Scripture-based conversations. Working together, BI’s TPD and SED can help God’s church develop spiritually along with their developing Scripture translation.