Today’s Bible translation ministry isn’t the same as it was a generation ago. New technology and an increased emphasis on partnerships has accelerated the pace. Yet there are still about 4,000 languages that don’t have a Bible translation — half of which have not been started.

Samuel Chiang joins Today’s Conversation with Leith Anderson to discuss the current state of Bible translation and what its future looks like. In this podcast, you’ll hear:

  • How Bible translation is preserving endangered languages;
  • What the most critical needs are for today’s translation ministry;
  • What role orality plays in Bible translation work; and
  • Whether there will be a day when all languages will have a Bible translation.

Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: As a student, when I was spending many hours in classrooms learning Greek and Hebrew and studying the Bible, one of the frustrating things was that there are Hebrew words and Greek words where there really isn’t a good English word that says the same thing. You must face that all the time — that there are languages that don’t have, at least for English, our equivalent words for sin, God, salvation and all kinds of other things. Or, the word in our language actually has a completely different idea and meaning in another person’s language. How do you deal with that?

Samuel: Well, that’s both the art and science, but even more than that, the prayer. That’s one of the large challenges that’s faced by the national Bible translators, as well as the Bible translation consultants who are either indigenous to the culture or might be a Western individual. I can think of one language, for example, that’s in Southeast Asia where it took them time to have a sense of the word, “sanctification.” That literally took not five days, not five hours, not five months, but it took them five years to come to a full sense to say that this is the right word for this language and with the understanding that this represents the idea of “sanctification.” So, it sometimes really does take time to discover what the word is that God has provided in that culture that matches the original intent from the Old Testament Hebrew or New Testament Greek.

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