Bible Translation Basics: Communicating Scripture in a Relevant Way

Hill, Harriet, Ernst-August Gutt, Christoph Unger, Rick Floyd, and Margaret Hill

Over the past thirty years, scholars have made significant advances in understanding how human communication functions. They have moved from looking for meaning in texts alone to seeing texts as providing clues that lead hearers to discover the speaker’s intended meaning. Hearers use other inputs as well—things they already know, information from the speech environment—as they search to understand not only what the words of the text say but also what the speaker is communicating. All this has significant implications for Bible translation.

Bible Translation Basics accomplishes two things: 1) it expresses these theoretical developments in communication at a basic level in non-technical language, and 2) it applies these developments to the task of Bible translation in very practical ways. Tried and tested around the world, people with a secondary school education or higher are able to understand how communication works and apply those insights to communicating Scripture to their audiences. Bible Translation Basics helps translators work with language communities to determine the kind of Scripture product(s) that are most relevant for them, given their abilities and preferences.

About the Authors

Harriet Hill (Ph.D., Fuller School of Intercultural Studies) is the Director of Scripture Engagement Content with the American Bible Society, formerly with SIL International. She is the author of The Bible at Cultural Crossroads: From Translation to Communication (2006).

Ernst-August Gutt (Ph.D., University of London) served with SIL International and has been associated with University College London, University of Manchester and the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He is the author of Translation and Relevance (2008).

Margaret Hill (M.A., University of Manchester) serves with SIL International. She is the author of Translating the Bible into Action (2010).

Christoph Unger (Ph.D., University of London) serves with SIL International and as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Mainz. He is the author of Genre, Relevance and Global Coherence (2006).

Rick Floyd (Ph.D., University of California, San Diego) serves with SIL International and is a professor at Biola University.

Table of Contents:


Lesson 1: Why Translate the Bible?
Lesson 2: How We Understand Meaning
Lesson 3: How We Know When We Have Understood
Lesson 4: Processing Effort, Benefits, and Relevance
Lesson 5: How We Select Context
Lesson 6: Communicating with Concepts
Lesson 7: Filling Out What Is Said
Lesson 8: Leaving Parts of Sentences Implicit
Lesson 9: Drawing the Intended Implications
Lesson 10: Stronger and Weaker Guidance to Implications
Lesson 11: Describing or Retelling
Lesson 12: Genre and Translation
Lesson 13: Appropriate Scripture Products
Lesson 14: Understanding a Biblical Passage
Lesson 15: Identifying Mismatches in Secondary Communication
Lesson 16: Cultural Research
Lesson 17: Expressing Concepts in Another Language
Lesson 18: Adjusting Contextual Mismatches
Lesson 19: Translating Metaphors and More
Lesson 20: How We Connect Thoughts
Lesson 21: Crafting Bible Stories
Lesson 22: Different Contributions to Relevance in a Text
Lesson 23: Communicating Additional Layers of Meaning
Lesson 24: Special Issues: Names, Weights, Measures, and Money
Lesson 25: From Draft to Publication
Lesson 26: Translation Programs

Appendix 1. Glossary
Appendix 2. How to Make a Back-Translation
Appendix 3. Generating a First Draft: A Summary
Appendix 4. Topical Indexes

Retail Price:
xii, 291 pages
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
7 × 10 × 0.63 in
1.3 lb
Publication Category:
Content Language: