Bible Translation Basics 1

Course Description

The course begins with an introductory unit that will help you think through reasons for being involved in Bible translation. In the first section of this course, you will learn the basics of how communication functions. In the second section, you will learn about the challenges of translating Scripture and the options that are available. The third section focuses on adjusting mismatches between languages and cultures. The fourth section deals with special translation issues like metaphors and the problem areas of names, weights, measures, and money. The final section deals with translation program issues.

Throughout the course, you will study biblical passages in depth and translate them in a variety of styles, using both oral and written drafting methods.

The main building blocks of this course are units (lessons), which come in two kinds: there are units which teach more theoretical content (but with lots of practical exercises), and units which really are extended exercises to reinforce what was taught in the theoretical units. Two of these exercise units will give you the opportunity to translate actual biblical passages in two different styles.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you should understand:

  • the inferential nature of human communication and how it relates to translation;
  • how to interpret a biblical passage within its original context;
  • what is involved in setting up and running a translation program;

and you should be able to:

  • make initial translation drafts using different approaches, i.e. to develop appropriate communication strategies and craft different products for audiences in various situations;
  • identify contextual mismatches and make appropriate adjustments in your translation.


One word of caution: when we say that at the end of the course you should be able to draft translation into your language, we are implying that you will very likely need the assistance of a more experienced consultant or advisor trained in exegesis who can help you understand the intended meaning of the biblical text. Becoming a skilled translator requires life-long learning.This is only an introduction to some of the many issues involved. Fortunately, translation is very interesting and rewarding work.