Dallas International University has been providing academic research and education in Bible translation and related disciplines for more than 50 years. Today, we provide multiple programs to meet the variety of Bible translation needs around the world. Every two years, DIU reaffirms its commitment to advancing academic theory and practice in Bible translation by co-sponsoring the Bible Translation Conference, which is held on our Dallas campus.
This year, DIU was proud to see several of our faculty, students, and alumni contribute papers on the theme of “Quality in Translation.” The research summarized below is the kind of expertise and experience that you will find in our Bible translation programs.
Adrianne Baumunk (Alumna, MA-LCS ‘22): “Cluster Project Performance: Improving Quality Results in Cluster Project Planning”
Cluster projects are a popular way to translate the Bible into multiple related languages simultaneously. Still, almost 60% of cluster projects fail to meet their quality goals for written translations. Baumunk examines how poor planning and management issues have kept previous cluster projects from meeting their quality standards and advises how current and future cluster projects can prevent the same problems.
Rachel Aubrey (Alumna, CAL ‘08) and Michael Aubrey (Alumnus, CAL ‘08): “Biblical Language Grammars and the Barriers They Create”
Most existing biblical language grammars are in English, written for English speakers. These are not designed for Bible translation. Rachel and Michael Aubrey give specific examples that illustrate problems of jargon, accessibility, and relevance in existing grammars. They show how grammars privilege English in ways that cause problems for users from other languages. Finally, they argue that Bible translation needs biblical language grammars designed specifically for the task, grounded in language typology and linguistics instead of the English grammar tradition.
Heather Beal (Faculty, AL), Joshua Frost (Student, MA-AL), Nikki Mustin (Alumna, MA-AL ‘13): “Quality in OBT: The What and the How”
Hundreds of oral Bible translation (OBT) projects are now being started each year. Yet most Bible translation consultants have no formal training in orality and little practice deciding whether audio translations and performances are quality. Worse, there are virtually no training materials for them to use. This presentation offers a high-level overview of what makes the OBT product high-quality and practical advice for how to facilitate quality in the OBT process.
Scott Berthiaume (President; Faculty, AL): “Peer Review and Quality Assurance: A Case for Programmatic Accreditation”
In the last 25 years, the Bible Translation (BT) movement has expanded greatly with its focus on starting a translation for every remaining need. Partnerships and training programs have multiplied accordingly. Berthiaume shows that, just as training students in accredited programs maximizes quality and impact in other academic disciplines, it would do the same for BT training.
Katrina Boutwell (Faculty, AL) and Serge Razafinjatoniary: “Bible Translation in Madagascar: Ownership and Partnership that Builds Capacity”
The churches in Madagascar have committed to translate the Bible in the twelve remaining indigenous languages. They have reached out to partnering organizations like SIL to assist with the capacity building needed to complete this task. Boutwell and Razafinjatoniary explore this national Bible translation movement, highlighting the pivotal role of partnerships. Partnerships are playing a pivotal role in translating with speed and quality and in building the local church’s capacity to continue the work themselves.
Mike Cahill (Faculty, AL) and Tim Stirtz: “Tacit Linguistic Knowledge is Not Enough: Participatory Methods to Improve Quality in Bible Translation”
Native speakers of a language have a deep, but usually unconscious, knowledge of how their language works. For a Bible translation to work well, it must harness this unconscious knowledge. “Participatory methods” bring together an outside linguist and a local language speaker to discover the language’s patterns together. Cahill and Stirtz describe how this relatively new strategy makes translations more natural.
Trevor Deck (Alumnus, MA-AL ’06): “Migration Realities: Benefits of Embracing Diaspora in Bible Translation”
Understanding and embracing the reality of migration for Bible translation work will greatly benefit any language community with diaspora members. Deck looks at three ways diasporans can (and do) participate in BT work, including 1) funding, 2) contributing to the linguistic, translation, literacy, ethnomusicology, and Scripture engagement efforts, and 3) networking with others in their community for sharing and connecting to more of the dispersed community. He challenges the BT movement to be more intentional and strategic about including diaspora for enriching and improving the quality of Bible translation work.
Joshua Frost (Student, MA-AL): “Exegeting Emotions in the Bible for Translation: Toward a Comprehensive Method”
Emotions appear in every area of language, from the words we choose (i.e. lazy vs. inactive) to the metaphors (i.e. boiling with anger). Despite the prevalence of emotion in language, few translation resources systematically focus on emotions. This leaves translators without the resources or methods they need to translate them. Incorporating ideas from the most recent and widely accepted research on emotions, Frost outlines a basic framework for exegeting emotions within biblical texts for translation.
Timothy Hatcher (Faculty, AA): “Veneration, Heresy, and the Acceptability of Vernacular Language Bible Translations”
Hatcher explores how theology affects whether a community will accept a vernacular Bible translation. Communities are especially influenced by Bibles they already use in a different language, religious oral traditions, and other world religions’ standards for translating their own sacred texts. Hatcher gives advice on how Bible agencies and personnel should encounter disagreements about what makes a sacred text acceptable.
Aaron Hemphill (Alumnus): “How Does Literacy Contribute to the Quality of a Bible Translation?”
An Oral Bible Translation (OBT) project does not need literacy to translate, publish, and distribute the Bible. Still, literacy improves translation projects, including OBT projects. Hemphill explains why, then gives OBT teams concrete suggestions for how to incorporate literacy into their projects. Similarly, Hemphill advises Written Bible Translation (WrBT) teams on how to strengthen their translations with elements of orality.
Katie Hoogerheide Frost (Faculty, CEWA): “How Genre Awareness Contributes to Quality Translations”
Frost explains the benefits of translating Scripture into forms (genres) that people recognize from their own culture. For example, the Psalms might be translated into local song or poetry styles, the book of Proverbs into local ways of dispensing pithy wisdom, and the parables of Jesus into local ways of telling stories. A number of translation projects have already tried this approach with good success. Based on studies from a variety of disciplines, Frost proposes reasons why the approach has been successful. She shows how translating into familiar forms can make translations higher quality and easier for communities to receive.
Héber Negrão (Student, PhD-WA): “Using Visual Arts to Improve the Translation: A Case Study with the Paypa Language”
Negrão surveys the process and outcome of a recent Scripture Engagement project in the Paypa language of Brazil. The project produced a short video about the parable of the Two Builders (Luke 6:46-49) using contextual visual arts depicting the Paypa geographic and cultural context. Negrão explores how this art form helped the Paypa Bible translation team to improve the quality of their translation of Luke 6:46-49.
George Payton (Faculty, AL): “Section Headings as a Quality Issue? An Exegetical Study of the Toledot Formula in Genesis”
Most current translation projects include section headings, but section headings are difficult to translate. Translators must decide where headings should go and what they should describe, and their decisions affect the quality of the translation. For insight on this issue, Payton studies instances of a Hebrew phrase (the “toledot formula”) that functions as a section heading in the original biblical text. He offers suggestions on how best to render these headings in English.
Michelle Petersen (Faculty, CEWA): “Facilitating Scripture Engagement in Multilingual Contexts”
The gospel typically arrives in a language of wider communication (LWC) garbed in the foreign attire of another culture’s literature, hymns, music, arts, and communication styles. People can begin to own their faith more fully as they begin to express it in their own languages and cultural forms. In this presentation, Michelle Peterson presented interventions that have proven helpful in encouraging multilingual Scripture Engagement. Intercultural conversations can lead to intercultural worship and multilingual scripture use, giving us all a taste of worship on earth as it is in heaven.
Explore Bible Translation
DIU faculty, students, and alumni are advancing the field of Bible Translation with their important questions and insightful solutions. Our students are proud to learn alongside such excellent and innovative scholars. Explore our Bible Translation programs to learn more about the various ways you can contribute to this significant field and practice.