The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Aug 12, 2016

Bible Translating into Unreached People Groups: A Challenge for Scholars

I recently had the privilege of attending the WorldView Translation conference, with a focus on translating the Bible into languages that have never had Scripture translated into them before (or those that do not have an adequate translation). We were very privileged to have Margaret Stringer as a guest speaker (she has done pioneering missions work in the difficult jungles of Irian Jaya). The conference as a whole focused on both technical-linguistic and theological issues in Bible translation.

I am grateful that many legitimate Bible scholars have not forgotten the Great Commission and contribute greatly to both teaching in the church and Gospel proclamation overseas; my doctoral adviser David Alan Black has done some great work overseas, and I personally know two fellow doctoral students of mine at Southeastern, both budding, published scholars, who are involved in overseas ministry.

Nevertheless, an area of untapped potential exists: western biblical scholarship and Bible translations for unreached or barely-reached people groups. Just a thought, but what a blessing it would be if, of all the incredible myriad of evangelical scholars with PhDs in NT or OT (thousands!), more of them would participate as a consultant on a Bible translation in a language other than English!? Plenty of opportunities exist. This would necessitate, of course, such a scholar actually taking time to learn the language he or she would be assisting in, and perhaps taking a trip overseas, but I doubt that this would be hindrance.

In other words, I am calling for the born-again Christian Bible scholars of the western world (not that many of them read my blog, lol), to consider praying about committing to a special project, a project that may just result in reaching millions with the Gospel: become a Bible translation consultant! Learn a new language, take a trip, and get active!

Naturally, I'm over-simplifying things, and you don't want to stick your nose in where it's not needed ("Hi, I'm the big-shot Greek scholar from America and I'm here to help! Forgot everything you've ever learned about Bible translation and listen to me because I've got a PhD!"); some humility and prayerful discernment would be necessary. But I don't think this is such a far-fetched idea. Personally, I don't qualify as a scholar yet (only 1 book, 6 articles, and just 2 years full-time teaching; I have a ways to go!), but currently I am involved as a consultant on two projects: my own father's new "Lifeline" Japanese Bible translation (I spend about 4 hours a week on this), and as consultant for my church's new translation initiative in Cameroon (for both the Pidgin and the Beba language). (For the latter project I haven't actually done anything yet, but "officially" I'm a consultant!) Neither of those languages are completely without Scripture (especially Japanese), but there's always room for improvement (copyright issues vis-a-vis the best Japanese translation are one reason my father started his new translation). If somebody like me who was humbled by theological German (yet by God's grace persevered) can contribute, how much more so the true North American scholar who reads 10 languages and has published 10 books? It might mean putting out one or two fewer books over the next couple years, but hey, it's getting tough to keep track of all those anyways!

1 comment:

  1. Very good! I agree so much....good call to action!