Working for the Word - a Bible translation podcast
By Andrew Case
Working for the Word - a Bible translation podcastJul 18, 2020
Announcement - why I'll be stepping away from this podcast for a season
This episode will just be a brief announcement that I’ll be taking some time away from this podcast in order to focus on some other important things right now. I may be posting sporadically, but I’m not sure how often. There are a lot of episodes I’d like to do in the future.
Book mentioned: God and Mammon by Noll
Translation News & Lawsuits over the Gospels of Matthew and Luke
MA in Bible Translation from Nida Institute: https://www.nidaschool.org/ma-bible-translation Seed Company Residency Program: https://seedcompany.com/residency/
Wycliffe's convergence program for training consultants: https://www.wycliffe.org/blog/posts/6-ways-convergence-will-prepare-you-to-become-a-translation-consultant
Word for the World's training programs: https://training.twftw.org/
Mekane Yesus Seminary: https://mekaneyesusseminary.org/
SIL Translation CiT Funding Guidelines:
- Is a current SIL staff member
- Is already an approved Translation CiT with their OU – have a mentor, a growth plan, and have begun their mentored checking training
- Is within their last two years of their Translation CiT program – ie, within two years of starting this program they will become approved as a Translation Consultant
- Have approval to enter this program from their OU Administration (supervisor) and their OU Translation Coordinator
- Upon becoming a Translation Consultant, they commit to working 0.5 FTE (50%) of their time as a Translation Consultant for at least five years
Authors/ contributors are needed for two Translation Resources projects currently underway - Bamboo TN (Translator's Notes) and KTOT (Key Terms of the Old Testament). If you are interested in working part-time with either of these projects, email Brian Migliazza for further information. Contact Phil King: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Brian Migliazza: email@example.com
News from Jerusalem about John Mark's lawsuits by Don Lowe.
Interlinears and Learning the Biblical Languages - a conversation with my wife
This episode is going to be a little different and more informal. My wife, Bethany, and I had a really great conversation the other day about interlinears and their different uses for second language acquisition, as well as the subject of reader's bibles. So we decided to record a second version of it to share, because we hope there are some helpful things we can add to people's thinking about these things and the general discussion of second language acquisition. If I said anything valuable in this episode, it probably came from my wise and brilliant wife in our first conversation! And for those of you who are unfamiliar with our Hebrew learning channel, you can learn more at freehebrew.online.
This video explains a little more about the BART Bible app that provides a free Hebrew Reader's Bible reading experience, but better, without having to look down at footnotes.
The Center for NT Restoration with Dr. Alan Bunning - part 2
In this episode we continue our conversation with Dr. Alan Bunning, Executive Director for the Center for New Testament Restoration.
Check out the project overview.
The Center for NT Restoration with Dr. Alan Bunning - part 1
When people think about starting a translation of the NT, they usually need to decide which Greek text they’re going to use as a source text. Unlike OT translation where everyone defaults to the MT, there are more than one NT source texts to choose from, like the UBS, the Nestle-Aland, the Byzantine text, the Textus-Receptus and others. And some of the modern, popular ones are locked down by copyright. So over the course of the next two episodes I want to introduce you to someone who is innovating in this field, and trying to serve the Church with a transparent critical Greek text that everyone can use without any hindrance.
Alan Bunning received his education in New Testament Greek from the Kensington Theological Academy under the tutelage of Dr. David R. Dilling, and received his D.Litt. degree for his work done in textual criticism. Alan’s primary background is in computer science and after working in the industry for many years, he became a college professor working as an Assistant Professor in Computer Information Systems at Ivy Tech Community College and then was a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Purdue University. Alan retired from Purdue University in 2020 and now devotes himself to working full time as the Executive Director for the Center for New Testament Restoration.
Make sure to read the project overview, especially section 2.2.
How Broken Is the Bible Translation Industry? Responding to an Article
Back in 2021 an article entitled Just How Broken Is the Bible Translation Industry? came out on MinistryWatch. People keep asking me what I think about it. I've waited a long time to let the organizations critiqued in the article have a chance to speak for themselves and respond to the article, but they never did. This episode is my summary and thoughts on the article, and an encouragement to the leaders of the big BT orgs to set the record straight and clarify any misunderstandings that might exist.
A note written by me on the forum:
Regarding raising a child: it's a good point, and most people would say that raising children well doesn't cost millions of dollars. In fact, if you introduce too much money into raising a child, you'll probably ruin your child. I wonder if that's the concern in this article. If I went around to churches telling them that I needed to raise 10 million dollars to raise my kid well, I would only raise eyebrows. I think that may be the message coming across to many like the author: that Bible translation is no longer just hard; now it's exorbitantly expensive. I think military spending may be a good analogy here. I learned yesterday that if one toilet gets clogged on the new US aircraft carriers, it costs $400,000 to unclog it. So the question is: should it really cost that much? We all know that BT has a high cost in energy, time, stress, trauma, etc., and that should be expected. But our orgs usually require us to de-emphasize those costs and give a chipper façade to donors. All the donors see is the marketing and begging for high dollar amounts, without understanding where it's going. So it's no wonder people might start to suspect that it's being thrown at ridiculously expensive ways to "unclog toilets." Is Bible translation spending money for the sake of spending money in some areas? Are they raising money for job security because they don't know what else they would do? As long as donors are ignored and not given clear answers to these questions, we remain suspect and a target to more articles like this one. In my experience, the big orgs ignore these kinds of articles and leave everyone with question marks, instead of humbly and clearly responding with wisdom and detailed honesty. I can only pray that leaders take this seriously and actually respond publicly instead of hiding behind silence. I would genuinely welcome any leader to come on my podcast "Working for the Word" and respond to this article.
Introducing Wycliffe Associates - with Tabitha Price
Raised in the jungles of Venezuela by missionary parents in a vibrant Christian home, Tabitha Price is well-acquainted with the challenges of Christian ministry. Tabitha married her high school sweetheart, Joel, and together they attended New Tribes Bible college in preparation for missionary service. After that, she earned a bachelor degree from Southwest Bible College and Seminary and spent eight years teaching at international mission schools first in Venezuela and later in Florida. She is a graduate of Louisiana Baptist Theological Seminary (Master’s in Ministry), and has completed a doctorate in Executive Leadership.
Tabitha has served with Wycliffe Associates since 2009 in a variety of ministries. She was privileged to be part of the first MAST translation event and has since taught translation principals and theory to hundreds of translators in countries all over the world. Today Tabitha serves as the Vice President of Translation Services leading teams who are training our partners in church owned Bible translation.
Tabitha and her husband Joel have three children, Marshall, Jaden and Roman. They call Central Florida home.
What the AI Bot ChatGPT Knows about Bible Translation
ChatGPT is considered by some to be the biggest technological revolution since the iPhone. In this episode we take it for a spin to see what it knows about Bible translation and test the limits of its expertise regarding more challenging biblical studies.
Audio Project Manager for OBT - with Nathan Payne
Now that we’ve learned more about internalization from Katie Frost, it’s time to talk about a new tool that recently came out for actually doing oral Bible translation projects. It’s called Audio Project Manager, and it’s a free program that anyone can download and start working with right away. Nathan Payne is going to walk us through what the software does and how it can be leveraged for oral projects.
I’ve worked with Render for a while now and it still has a lot of drawbacks. One of the biggest ones is that it’s not freely available, and you have to jump through a ton of hoops to get access to it. The interface has a lot of annoying quirks, especially for consultants, and it has very little flexibility. This is where Audio Project Manager comes in to give people a better option with much more flexibility and freedom.
Nathan Payne who is going to help us understand the software, was born in Peru to missionary Bible translators who worked in the jungle with the Asheninka people. He met his wife, Katy, in high school, and attended Texas A&M university where he studied chemical engineering. He and his wife later studied linguistics after feeling called to Bible translation. After some fieldwork, he moved into a training and consulting role for storying projects. A few years later he became the SIL Americas Area Storying and Orality Coordinator. And in 2020 became the SIL Oral Translation Services coordinator, giving direction to the organization’s involvement in Storying, OBT and other oral strategies. He currently serves as director of the Oral English Bible Translation (Spoken English Bible) and Oral Exegetical Tools project.
Internalization & Oral Bible Translation with Katie Frost
As Oral Bible Translation continues to grow in popularity and influence, it’s helpful to keep learning more about its core component: internalization. So I’ve asked one of the few experts in the world on this subject to join me and walk us through what internalization is, how it works, and more. Her name is Katie Frost, and she was actually my teacher a long time ago for a workshop on oral drafting that I attended in Dallas. Katie is an Ethnoarts consultant with SIL, and a professor at Dallas International University. Her experience in both ethnoarts and linguistics/translation led to co-founding the Psalms: Layer by Layer project as part of pursuing how these disciplines intersect in biblical Hebrew poetry. She’s done fieldwork in the Netherlands and the Middle East, and is married to Josh who also serves in Bible translation. And they have a baby girl.
Kris Toler's thesis on internalization can be downloaded here.
News, New Resources, and Key Terms of the OT
The Archive: https://brandfolder.com/portals/thearchive
Psalm 136 in Hebrew: https://youtu.be/C8ZIJ2fmnMw
More news at MAP.
The Forgotten Preface - respecting and learning from the KJV translators - with Josh Barzon
No English translation of the Bible has had more influence on the world than the King James Version. But have you read its preface? A lot of people haven’t because for years it has usually been left out of printings of the KJV. Our guest in this episode, Josh Barzon, wants to make sure more people listen to what these legendary translators had to say, so he’s written a book called The Forgotten Preface which aims to shed more light on this overlooked historical document. What did these men actually believe about inspiration, preservation, and translation?
Who Is the Actual Author of Scripture? - Copy.Church with Jon part 2
We continue and conclude the interview with Jon, the creator of copy.church.
Before we get into the rest of the interview I want to make a few comments. As I have more conversations with people around the world about the issue of freely giving gospel ministry and the stance that I hold that ministry should be supported, not sold, I’ve run into a few common threads. The first is that people–even world-class intelligent scholars, have no biblical arguments for disagreeing with me. Everyone has pragmatic or emotional arguments, but so far no one has any biblical arguments. And this, I suspect, is perhaps because there are none. We’re letting our thinking about selling ministry be driven by the world rather than Scripture.
Second, when people hear me talk about these things, many seem unable to listen to what I’m saying. They assume that what I’m saying is that all people who engage in ministry should never receive money and should be dying of poverty. So let me say again: I believe gospel ministry should be supported, not sold. It’s a very simple distinction that for some reason people often refuse to hear, and then assume something totally irrelevant to the discussion.
Third, I’d like to suggest that it’s not a very serious argument to simply dismiss the example of Jesus and Paul as irrelevant and non-prescriptive to the believers today. This is another thing I’ve run into. If you want to say that Jesus’ command to freely give in Matthew 10 has zero implications for present day ministry, you have to give some serious reasons for why that’s a serious hermeneutic. And if you are still convinced that Jesus and Paul’s examples have no bearing on your life and the church today, I’d encourage you to at least figure out where in Scripture we find guardrails for money and ministry. If there are no guardrails in the Bible regarding these things, then we have no answer to the prosperity preachers. It’s important to be able to show why it’s unbiblical to sell prayers for people or charge money for admission to a church worship service. Obviously there are no direct commands in Scripture regarding these things, so you would have to base these convictions off biblical principles. I would strongly suggest that it would be pretty sad and disgraceful if we as the Church end up with no way to scripturally condemn the selling of prayers or the selling of baptism, for example. If we can’t condemn such basic abuses, then we are not actually paying attention to the very fabric and spirit of God’s Word. Yet this is precisely where everyone I have talked to so far who disagrees with a biblical prohibition of selling ministry ends up. That is, they are unable to tell me from Scripture why it’s not ok to charge someone money for a baptism.
How Much Do You Really Know about Bible Translation Licenses? - Copy.Church with Jon part 1
We’ve talked about copyright on this podcast already, but we still haven’t taken a meticulous look at the way mainstream Bible translations are licensed, what the specific limitations are, and how different translations compare to each other in this area. This episode will be a real eye-opener for many of you, so make sure you’re sitting down. We’re going to be talking to the creator of a website called copy.church, which seeks to point people to the simple truth that it’s wrong to limit access to the Word of God. He’s been thinking about and studying these things for years, and I think what he has to say is extremely important.
Jon is the founder of Gracious Tech, a mission-focused app development ministry. He first got interested in missions while travelling in South-East Asia and realizing the dire need for the gospel there. He promptly committed his life to mission work and completed an MDiv in preparation. While he initially thought he'd be putting his IT skills to the side, he soon realized how advantageous it would be to have apps for sharing the Gospel and aiding mission work.
During his first term of mission overseas, he worked on an app for sharing Bible stories using plain Scripture. It was almost finished when he realized the licenses of almost all Bible translations don't permit sharing plain scripture, and instead must be accompanied by other commentary. Not knowing much about copyright or how to go about seeking permission, the project was put on hold for many years.
Jon later founded Gracious Tech and now commits most of his time to developing apps for mission. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two young daughters.
Please consider helping spread Jon's website copy.church.
What Do You Need to Become a Bible Translation Consultant?
Many people ask me what they might need to become a BT consultant. In this podcast we'll walk through all the details of what you'll be need to measure up to if you want to serve the BT movement in this way. Here's a public listing of these competencies: https://bibletranslationcompetencies.org/consultant-competencies/
How to Evaluate Language Vitality with Scott Smith
What does a sociolinguistics consultant do, and how can Bible translators continue to think carefully about language vitality? What kinds of questions should you ask to quickly assess the status of a language? For answers to all this and more, we have Scott Smith as our guest today. Get ready for a deep dive into the world of sociolinguistics.
Scott Smith and I met back in 2011 when he convinced me to join him and his team over in Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa. He and his wife Margaret have been working there on and off for decades, and they are some of the most generous people I know. Fun fact: they built their home out of shipping containers right on the beach in Equatorial Guinea, and I’ve spent a lot of time out there visiting with them over the years, drinking coconuts and enjoying the warm ocean water. Sometimes Scott and I would have meetings while floating on the waves. Scott is also known for his jokes, playing with words in multiple languages, and for enjoying being a polyglot in general.
Neil & Jane Nellis - the Zapotec NT is completed - part 2
My grandparents ended up having four children, all of whom eventually worked in Bible translation. Their family loved to laugh and sing and tell jokes. This is the second part of their lives in BT, in which we reach the completion of the NT in Zapotec of Sierra Juarez (language code zaa). "God has helped us to translate portions of the Old Testament and the complete New Testament. We have done a literacy program, with primers, a dictionary, grammar and reading books. We have trained and discipled many Zapotecs, done medical work, taught music, helped choirs and programs, participated in community projects, sent Zapotecs to schools of higher education, done group service and public relations, and hospitality, counseling, discipleship and a few other things. We even had a part in beginning a radio program in Zapotec. Now there are many trained Pastors and leaders, churches and Christian workers."
Neil & Jane Nellis - Pioneer Translators in Mexico - part 1
My grandma and grandpa Neil and Jane Nellis are no longer with us, but they did leave behind a 60,000 word book that records their story in their own words—their family histories, their conversions, their love story, and the account of their work in Mexico and Bible translation. This is the first part of an abridged version of their story. They lived through the Great Depression, played chess with Uncle Cam, and eventually ended up translating the NT into the language of the most famous president of Mexico.
Fish in Your Ear, The Bible in India, Translation News, & More
Before we continue with the series on my family in Bible translation, I wanted to bring a few things to your attention, recommend some things, and share some BT general news.
First, on my website workingfortheword.com I’ve added a resource page for people interested in finding out more about translation or who want to grow as a consultant in training, etc. It’s still a work in progress, and I’m sure some of you will have recommendations of things that would be helpful to add to it, including things I’ve mentioned in the past on this podcast and forgot to include. If you do, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’ve been following this podcast for a while, you’ll know that I’m especially interested in free, open access resources. What I’m doing with this page is providing a curated list of things I personally have read and recommend for your professional development or if you just have a casual interest in BT. Obviously there are many more works on BT out there, and many more tools, but I personally don’t find all of them useful or helpful. So go ahead and check it out and see if there’s anything on there that looks interesting. I hope it can serve the BT movement.
Translation Challenges & Perseverance - with Daniel Case - part 2
Last episode we began listening to the story of my dad’s life and involvement in Bible translation. In this second and final part we’ll hear about how he broke his neck while in the village, spiritual warfare he and my mom faced, the translation work, and more. Enjoy! Another huge thank you to my dad. I hope this interview proves to be interesting, encouraging, and edifying.
Cuba, Vietnam, Medical Missions, and Bible Translation - with Daniel Case - part 1
In this series on people in my family who have contributed to Bible translation, the next person is my dad, Daniel Case. He’s been through a lot in his 75 years of life, from growing up in Cuba to serving in the Vietnam War to being a medical missionary and working for decades in Bible translation for the Chatino people of El Carrizal in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. I really admire his wisdom, tenacity, humility, and servant heart, and I wanted to share his story with you.
My parents played a big part in inspiring Mark and Gloria Zook to go into Bible translation. This is the Ee-taow story about their ministry in PNG.
Bible Translation, WWII, and Fidel Castro - an interview with Edward Case
There are actually a lot of people in my family who are currently involved in Bible translation or were at some point, so I thought it would be fun and interesting to put together a series that tells their stories. Each one is unique, and my hope is that this will give you a window into some of the history of Bible translation and the different experiences and challenges that people have faced, especially here in Mexico. We’re going to start with my grandpa Edward Case, my dad’s dad, who is 101 years old and now lives in California. I got my uncle Jim who lives nearby to ask him some questions about his brief involvement in BT and subsequent missionary work in Cuba during the decade or so before Fidel Castro took over, which were some of Cuba’s golden years. Although his time working towards BT in Mexico was cut short by WWII, it’s interesting to hear the trajectory of his life and the way God used him and his family.
Oral Bible Translation Training - with Allen Pierce
The advance of globalization among the minority languages of the world is rapidly changing the landscape of Bible translation. Though a complete written Bible is a worthy goal, in some cases the declining vitality of minority languages and lack of mother-tongue literacy make this approach impractical. By the time the completed Bible is published, there may be few left to read it. This is where oral Bible translation can help. In this episode we’re going to talk about the process of training for these kinds of oral projects.
How to Translate Hebrew Poetry Step by Step - a basic guide
A lot has been going on lately with Bible translation in my neck of the woods. In this episode I want to talk about my experience being a test pilot for some of the resources CDBR has been developing for the Psalms, and walk through a draft that I’ve been working on that's designed to guide translators step by step through the process of translating Hebrew poetry.
My step by step doc (sorry for the mix of English and Spanish).
Translation Service Providers - thinking outside the box with Jane Schoen
As part of my growth as a Bible translation worker, I want to listen to a wide variety of people and different strategies, and not just to those who are within the echo chamber of people who think like me and agree with me. This interview with Jane Schoen of SRG raises some big questions that have been debated for years about whether BT should be done by believers or unbelievers. The method she’ll describe for us is still essentially in a proof of concept phase, and it will be interesting to see how everything plays out ten to twenty years down the road. There’s no doubt it’s a bit controversial, but it’s worth listening to and considering.
Jane has a broad range of experience, and currently serves as the director of the unreached people groups fund for an organization called SRG, the Strategic Resource Group, which funds projects to reach unreached people groups in the Middle East and North Africa.
Are We Being Strategic in Ending Bible Poverty? - towards a dorean reformation
Does the Bible translation movement need a Dorean reformation? Do our organizations reflect a sense of urgency to eradicate Bible poverty to the point of casting off anything that hinders so that we can all run the race towards helping the Bibleless without friction or obstacles? Do they reflect the radical generosity of the heart of Jesus shown in the very Bible they are trying to get into the hands of every tribe and every nation? Or do they reflect the petty spirit of the world, grasping at pennies when they have already been generously provided for by the sacrificial offerings of God’s people? Donors give, expecting nothing in return. Shouldn’t those receiving the donations do the same at a minimum?
As I’ve said many times before, the goal of this podcast is to become more like the man of Psalm 1. The more you immerse yourself in the scriptures, the more you want to bear fruit like a tree planted by streams of water. Part of the fruit of what I want to see come from this podcast is that of greater movement towards God's word in all of our practices within Bible translation. To see more and more people take a stand with conviction on certain issues within the Bible translation movement, and not compromise just because a lot of people are doing it or there's a lot of money involved. The more you immerse yourself in Scripture like the man of Psalm 1, the more you realize how much it has to say about money. Jesus had more to say about money than heaven and hell and love combined. So I hope you'll forgive me for doing just one more podcast along these lines, to make a call for deeper thinking in this area, greater conviction, repentance, and ethical consistency.
If you haven’t listened to the previous two episodes with Conley Owens, this episode won’t have enough context to make sense, so go ahead and make sure to listen to those episodes before you continue with this one.
Read The Dorean Principle for free.
Some of the websites mentioned:
A big thanks to Sarah Owens for lending her voice to the beginning of this episode.
The Dorean Principle & Bible Translation - with Conley Owens
Last episode we introduced the idea of "the dorean principle," which is explained in Conley Owens’ free book. We left the interview wondering how this applies to Bible translations and manuscripts, so we’re back to finish the conversation and apply Jesus’ principle of freely giving to those issues. We’ll also discuss how the concept of intellectual property is unbiblical, goes against natural law, and more.
One of the Most Important Books of the Last Hundred Years - with Conley Owens
As we’ve discussed multiple times in this podcast, the world of Bible translation is severely hindered by the status quo of locking up biblical resources under a "Copyright, All Rights Reserved" system. The global Church suffers tremendously because of this as well, and they only receive the crumbs that fall off the table of the rich Western Christian publishing industry. There is no longer a distinction between the world and the Church in the practice of monetizing everything–even gospel ministry and the resources needed to make Bible translation truly succeed and be sustainable. So I’m deeply thankful that someone has finally published a book that directly addresses the problem of the commercialization of Christianity. We’re going to talk to him over the next two episodes and see what we can learn.
Read or listen to The Dorean Principle for free in multiple formats here.
The Ethnologue & Why It's Important for BT - with Dr. Dave Eberhard
How do you keep track of the status of over 7,000 languages in the world? Our guest today, Dr. Dave Eberhard, is going to help us with that question, which is an important one for the world of Bible translation. Because you don’t want to end up investing hundreds of thousands of dollars and twenty years of work on a language that will die before you finish, while neglecting other languages that are in full health. This is a serious issue that many fail to consider, so let’s talk about it.
Visit the Ethnologue
Update, Deep Work, and Attention to Detail
The Bible in Arabic - part 11 - how should BT orgs handle controversy?
As we wrap up this series on the Bible in Arabic, I want delve a little deeper into the issue of how BT orgs are handling the issue of Muslim Idiom Translations today. That way hopefully we can have more informed conversations about a healthy way forward and know how to pray for Bible translation in Arabic and other Muslim-dominant languages. We also want to look at how these orgs are communicating or not communicating openly about these things with financial partners, and see what we can learn.
For this episode I’m going to be quoting at length from a forthcoming publication by linguist, Bible translator, and former Mormon Seth Vitrano-Wilson (listen to a previous episode with him here).
The Bible in Arabic - part 10 - underlying assumptions for BT with Dr. Aaron Shryock
What are the underlying assumptions that might influence our choice of how to translate the Bible into Arabic, and also in other Muslim contexts? We’re going to step back in this episode and try to understand what presuppositions might be driving certain ideas in this debate. In order to do that, Dr. Aaron Shryock has kindly agreed to contribute his perspective. This will be interesting, because I’m sure there are a lot of people who would disagree strongly with his view, but I hope that we can all learn together by listening and trying to empathize with different convictions and positions in the world of translation.
Books Aaron recommends:
Aaron’s email: email@example.com
The Bible in Arabic - part 9 - an interview with Georges Houssney
We’ve heard from some significant voices on translation issues in Arabic and other Muslim contexts, but so far we haven’t been able to sit down with a native speaker of Arabic and hear their perspective. As D.A. Carson said, it’s important to listen to people from the Middle East, rather than focus our attention only on Western opinions. So that’s what we’re going to do in this episode. Georges Houssney is our guest, and he grew up in Lebanon and he’s an author. He has vast experience in missions, Bible translation, linguistics, and engaging Islam. He is also the president of Horizons International mission.
The Bible in Arabic - part 8 - The WEA's review of Wycliffe/SIL's best practices regarding divine familial terms
In the spring of 2012, the World Evangelical Alliance leadership agreed to facilitate an independent external review of Wycliffe and SIL International’s practice of the translation of the words for “God the Father” and “Son of God.” The review was intended to focus on SIL’s Statement of Best Practices for Bible Translation of Divine Familial Terms, to set boundaries for theologically acceptable translation methodology particularly in Muslim contexts, and to suggest how to implement the recommendations practically. We're going to work through this 30-page document together and see what we can learn.
The Bible in Arabic - part 7 - D.A. Carson on "Jesus the Son of God"
Last episode we saw how the controversy unfolded over translating "Son of God" and "Father" in reference to God in the Arabic-speaking world and among other large Muslim groups. Now we want to focus on what biblical theology is at stake in the translation of divine familial terms. For this we get the privilege of listening to D.A. Carson talk about some of the content in his book titled Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed published in 2012 mainly to address the controversy.
The Bible in Arabic - part 6 - an overview of the "divine familial terms" controversy
In the last episode we saw that contemporary Bible translators in Muslim contexts face some unique challenges. We also saw how the particular challenges in evangelizing the Islamic world can lead to creative ways of contextualization that may end up being harmful, deceptive, or simply unbiblical in different ways. Now we want to set the stage for understanding the broader history of the brouhaha that erupted out of the issue of making Islamized Bible translations that are more conducive to Insider Movements missiology. We’re going to trace more of the academic debate, as well as the events surrounding the biggest recent controversy in BT.
Read Donald Lowe's full article in Muslim Conversions to Christ: A Critique of Insider Movements in Islamic Contexts.
The Bible in Arabic - part 5 - challenges & Insider Movements
As we continue to learn about the story of the Bible in Arabic, we need to look at what the particular contemporary challenges are to translating the Bible in Muslim contexts, as well as understand missiological trends that affect the way people might translate. These are not always easy things to grasp with nuance and wisdom, which perhaps is why some organizations have banned their members from any public discussion of the issues. So we’re going to do our best to patiently explore these things and see what we can learn–and hopefully proceed with humility and fairness by God’s grace.
Article referenced: Challenges Facing Bible Translation in the Islamic Context of the Middle East by Issa Diab published in "The Bible Translator" journal.
The Bible in Arabic - part 4 - Smith & Van Dyck's legacy and later translations
As we saw in the last episode, God raised up some amazing men to produce the most influential Bible translation in Arabic. I want to continue exploring a little more about this translation and see what its legacy has been over more than a century. No Bible translation is perfect, and languages undergo significant changes over the course of a hundred years, leading to a need for updated translations that contemporary readers can understand. Cultures and religions have also shifted in the Arab world, which raises new challenges for Bible translation. So let’s explore these things and more together.
The Bible in Arabic - part 3 - Smith & Van Dyck's translation
In the last episode we got a brief view of what some of the Arab world was like in the 1800s, and what protestant missionaries were facing as they endeavored to produce a translation of the Bible that could become a standard text for their mission work and church-planting. In this episode we want to look at the detailed first-hand account of what went on behind the scenes of this translation, which is widely known today as the Van Dyck translation. Who were the people involved and what tools did they use for this work? You may never have heard of this translation, but it became the best-selling book in Syria and Egypt, and later attained the equivalent status of the KJV amongst Arabic-speaking Christians.
The Bible in Arabic - part 2 - the world that gave birth to the most influential Arabic Bible
Christian history is full of unsung heroes, and the world of Bible translation is no exception. Even though books have been written to record amazing things God has done through different missionaries, we often forget about them because they were written so long ago. One such book is Fifty Three Years in Syria, a two volume work that describes much of the missionary work done in the 1800s and early 1900s in the middle east, including the most influential complete translation of the Bible into Arabic, which is still used as a standard text today. When I first set out to do this series I imagined that I would focus exclusively on BT into Arabic, but the more I read about the events, culture, and people surrounding the history of Arabic BT, the more I wanted to share it with you. It’s absolutely fascinating and many times stranger than fiction. At times it may feel like we’re jumping around a lot, but I think through these various vignettes we’ll gain a more fully-orbed idea of what the world was like in this part of the middle east during the birth of the most influential Bible in Arabic.
The Bible in Arabic - part 1
As we grow in our understanding of Bible translation, we want to focus on the Middle East and see what we can learn about the history of Bible translation into Arabic. In this series we’ll discover one of the most amazing missionaries you've never heard of, as well as seek to understand and learn from a significant controversy in the history of Bible translation. A big thank-you to Darren Duke for joining us on this episode!
YouTube clip from Langfocus: https://youtu.be/nDg3yPSzsEg
Introducing FOBAI & Their Standards - The Forum of Bible Agencies International
Founded back in 1990, the Forum of Bible Agencies International was born out of a need for understanding and partnership between organizations working in Bible translation. According to their website, they are a nonprofit made up of 40 members working together to maximize worldwide access and impact of God's Word in a trusted community of like-minded peers. Obviously this is a huge player in the world of BT, so let’s dive in and learn more about it.
The Psalms: Layer by Layer - with Katie Frost and Dr. Elizabeth Robar
It’s no secret that the book of Psalms is one of the darlings of the Church, and has been throughout the centuries. The poetic artistry, the raw emotion, the complete transparency—are all elements that make The Psalms so unique and compelling. Yet most of us never have the time or the tools to dig as deeply into them as they deserve. And when it comes to translating them, we need to have a profound grasp of their design and message. Today we’re going to talk about a project whose purpose is to provide translators with detailed analysis and useful information on The Psalms in one place. A big thanks to Dr. Elizabeth Robar and Katie Frost for taking the time to share their work and vision!
- Psalms: Layer by Layer project
- Cambridge Digital Bible Research (the non-profit hosting the Psalms LBL project, with an opportunity at the bottom to sign up for monthly newsletters to stay abreast of the project)
- For more information on joining the project as a scholar/translator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to the previous podcast with Elizabeth in which she laid out the original vision for the project.
Augustine the Septuagint-onlyist vs Jerome
Have you ever read the letters that went back and forth between St. Augustine and Jerome about Bible translation? If you haven’t, this is going to be a surprising and maybe even shocking episode for you. It turns out that the strong tendency to claim that your favorite traditional translation of the Bible isn’t new at all, and was happening all the way back in the fourth century. This was a type of KJV-onlyism at an epic scale, because it involved arguments between church fathers.
This podcast quotes at length from Jerome and the Jews: Innovative Supersessionism by William Krewson.
God's Idea of Success in Bible Translation
Recently Justin Taylor shared some quotes from three different men that reflect on a biblical view of success in ministry. Those three men are Mark Driscoll, Francis Schaeffer, and J.I. Packer. I wanted to share this in light of Bible translation, which can often be measured by numbers. Its success is often judged based on the quantity of output: how many NTs were finished this year, how many complete bibles, how many copies have been sold or used, how many people have been impacted or saved as a result of Bible translations, etc. Whether we’re a massive organization like Wycliffe or a single person working out in the middle of nowhere, there’s always a temptation towards ambition, and to evaluate whether or not we are successful by the world’s wisdom and by leaning on our own understanding. Although the following quotes have to do with churches and pastoring, I’d like to suggest that we ask ourselves as we listen: how can we guard our hearts in this regard when it comes to the world of Bible translation?
A Review of "The Art of Bible Translation" - with Mark Ward
I want to share with you a wonderfully articulate and insightful book review done by my friend Mark Ward. Mark has been on this podcast before talking about the problems with KJV-onlyism, and when he released a video reviewing Robert Alter’s book The Art of Bible Translation, I couldn’t help but want to share it with all of you here on the podcast.
Check out Mark's book: Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible
Mark's infotainment documentary: Authorized.
Watch Mark's Fifty False Friends in the KJV series here.
Mark's review originally appeared in the Puritan Reformed Journal, 12:1, pages 207–212—with a bit of an addition about KJV-Onlyism in the 11th minute or so.
Warriors & Aramaisms - checking 2 Samuel part 4
We take a deep dive on the state of the text of Samuel and 2 Samuel 22:26 in particular, and hopefully gain a broader, better, more nuanced understanding of what can make Bible translation a bit slow at times.
Translating Satan in Job - in defense of the traditional view with Ken Berding
A while back I featured Jordon Monson on my podcast who presented a particular view of Satan or "the satan" in the book of Job. This view has been widely promoted by Michael Heiser, who some of you may be familiar with because of his hugely influential and successful book The Unseen Realm. But his view is only one perspective on how to think about "the satan" and how to translate it in Job. The more traditional position deserves a thorough representation and defense, which I believe is compelling. So to present this view, I asked Dr. Ken Berding to record an article he wrote on the matter.
You Wanna Build Me a House? - checking 2 Samuel part 3
There are still a lot of notes that we haven’t discussed from my time spent checking 2 Samuel, so we’re going to tackle a couple more in this episode. We’re going to see how maintaining important plays on words in translation might sometimes seem impossible, but with some creativity there may be some workable solutions. We’re also going to see how important it is to understand the interplay between all the languages involved in checking a translation of Scripture.
God's Steadfast Love, or David's? - with Peter Gentry
In the last episode I left you hanging on the question as to why it’s possible to translate Isaiah 55:3 referring to David as the subject of acts of covenantal love. And this runs contrary to all the major English versions, which interpret David as the object of acts of covenantal love. This was not an idea that originated with me, but with Dr. Peter Gentry. So I invited him to share with us his arguments that appear in his book Kingdom through Covenant, and he kindly agreed. This may be a more technical episode than usual, but never fear: Gentry has also written a far more accessible, less technical volume of Kingdom through Covenant that’s called God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants. So definitely grab a copy of that for Christmas when you finish listening.