LiFE-Style Translating: A Workbook for Bible Translators

Wendland, Ernst R.

This workbook is intended to introduce translators, exegetes, Bible students, and communicators of the Scriptures to some of the main forms and functions of biblical literature, prose as well as poetry. The aim is to enable readers to better understand the original text and then convey selected texts in a correspondingly “literary” – artistic, poetic, rhetorical – manner in their mother tongue or another target language. These lessons have been prepared as a practical supplement to accompany the text Translating the Literature of Scripture (Wendland 2004), which expounds a literary-rhetorical approach to Bible translation, here termed Literary-functional equivalence (LiFE, for short). LiFE combines a concern not only for the artistic and literary dimension of the Scriptures, but also for relative functional parity as part of a flexible translation strategy.

Most of the important literary types, or genres, found in the corpus of the Scriptures are described, illustrated, and applied in translation exercises. This text-intensive approach is intended to sharpen the translator’s perception of these forms in the biblical writings, analyze them for greater understanding, and then employ this knowledge in the search for an equivalent manner and mode of expression in the target language. There are two principal concerns regarding quality control: accuracy and appropriateness. Regarding accuracy, the basic content and communicative intentions (i.e., the “meaning”) of any translation of the Scriptures must remain sufficiently close to those of the original text. And regarding appropriateness, the final translation product must be widely acceptable to the constituency and to the purpose(s) for which it was commissioned and prepared.

This Second Edition includes several major additions which considerably broaden the range of the issues covered and also exposes students and instructors alike to some additional perspectives. The various exercises of this workbook offer a practical methodology for helping not only Bible translators, but other readers as well, to better comprehend and to communicate some of the important poetic and rhetorical aspects of the original. This text can also be used to introduce theological instructors, students, and biblical exegetes in general to the prominent literary character of the Word of God. This vital dimension of the Scriptures is often ignored in exegetical textbooks and courses alike, so this workbook might well serve to fill a gap in the field of biblical studies.

About the Author

Dr. Wendland teaches at the Lutheran Seminary in Lusaka, Zambia and is a United Bible Societies Translation Consultant based in that country. He is also affiliated with the Centre for Bible Interpretation and Translation in Africa at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Table of Contents:


Lesson 1: Communicating within Diverse Sociolinguistic Frames
1.1 What is communication?
1.2 What is sociolinguistics?
1.3 What is semiotics?
1.4 Communication participants and their characteristics
1.5 Sociolinguistic variables that influence communication
1.6 Different situational frames of communication

Lesson 2: Does Scripture Include Literature?
2.1 What is literature?
2.2 What is orature and how does it differ from literature?
2.3 Kinds of literary forms in the Bible
2.4 What are some of the primary functions of biblical literature?

Lesson 3: Translating for LiFE: A Literary Functional-Equivalence Version
3.1 A relevant functional-equivalence approach to Bible translating
3.2 Defining translation more precisely
3.3 Defining a literary functional-equivalence translation
3.4 LiFE translation in relation to other approaches
3.5 Preparing for a poetic LiFE translation
3.6 A ten-step exegetical methodology
3.7 A case study
3.8 From analysis to synthesis in translation

Lesson 4: Text Types and Genres: Prose and Poetry in the Bible
4.1 The importance of the concept of genre to Bible translators
4.2 Four primary text types
4.3 Some additional features of discourse types
4.4 What is the difference between prose and poetry?
>4.5 Investigating the prose and poetry an do the target language

Lesson 5: Analyzing the Translating Biblical Poetry
5.1 The major stylistic forms of biblical poetry
5.2 The major functions of biblical poetry
5.3 Genres of poetry found in the Scriptures
5.4 Practicing a methodology for literary-poetic text analysis

Lesson 6: Analyzing and Translating Biblical Prose
6.1 Reviewing the four major discourse types
6.2 Identifying and analyzing Old Testament prose genres
6.3 Identifying and analyzing New Testament prose genres

Lesson 7: Contextualizing and Testing a LiFE Translation
7.1 Contextualizing a LiFE translation
7.2 Testing a LiFE translation

Lesson 8: A Summary and Review of LiFE Principles


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Second Edition
xv, 462 pages
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
8.5 × 11 × 0.95 in
2.5 lb
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