Foundations of Bible Translation

Download a free copy of Bible, Babel and Babble, a book by Scott Munger, Biblica's Vice President of Global Translations, exploring the foundations of good Bible translation.

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Introduction

Babel's effects continue, and not only among modern "tower builders." Misunderstandings related to the nature of language also confuse the Church, whether in missionary work, cross-cultural dialogue or the use of the Bible itself. Sadly, there is a great deal of babble spread around concerning the essence of Bible translation. Intra-church strife, and even carnage, result from Babel's confusion. This work, drawn upon the study of numerous languages and cultures, is an attempt to dispel some of that confusion.

That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:9, NIV)

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in the middle of their hands. (Revelation 7:9, NIV)

Lack of knowledge about the nature of language continues to trouble the Church, especially in relation to translation of the Bible. The following pages provides a foundation for that vital task. The author, Scott Munger, serves with Biblica and is a member of Wycliff Bible Translators. He has an MA in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Arlington, a Ph.D. in Bible Translation from the Free University of the Netherlands, and has assisted in Bible translation projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.