Translation Theory and Practice


Books on Translation Theory and Practice

Books are listed that consider more general issues of the theory and practice of Bible translation than those listed under other categories. Books are published by UBS and/or edited or authored by Bible Society personnel/close associates.

Title links are to ordering information in the UBS catalog found on this website. For relatively recent works, the "outline" link indicates the content and outline of the book. An "ordering info" link is provided for those books that are not published by UBS.


Translation Approaches

  • Bible Translation: Frames of Reference, ed. by Timothy Wilt (St. Jerome, 2003)
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  • Translating the Literature of Scripture: A Literary-Rhetorical Approach to Bible Translation, by Ernst Wendland (SIL, 2004)
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  • The Bible in the Twenty-First Century, ed. by Howard Clark Kee (American Bible Society, 1993). Varying perspectives on how manuscript and archaeological discoveries, methodologies for study of the Bible, and relatively recent media would influence perspectives on and translation of the Bible, on the verge of moving into the twenty-first century.

  • Functional Equivalence in Bible Translating: From One Language to Another, by Jan de Waard and Eugene Nida (Nelson, 1986). A sociosemiotic perspective on translation.

  • Signs, Sense, Translation, by Eugene Nida (Bible Society of South Africa, 1984). Communication theory and the importance of semantics for translating.

  • The Theory and Practice of Translation, by Eugene Nida and Charles Taber (Brill, 1969). Of historical interest, as a reflection of an influential perspective on Bible translation from the 1950's-80's, and with many insights of contemporary pertinence.

  • Traduire sans Trahir, by Jean-Claude Margot (L'age d'homme, 1979). An in-depth presentation strongly influenced by Nida.
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Translation in Non-Print Media

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Analysis & Translation of Biblical Texts & Language

  • Souls Under the Altar: Relevance Theory and the Discourse Structure of Revelation, by Stephen Pattemore (UBS, 2005)
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  • Analyzing the Psalms, 2nd edition, by Ernst Wendland (SIL, 2002)
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  • Hebrew Poetry in the Bible: A Guide for Understanding and for Translating, by Lynell Zogbo & Ernst Wendland (UBS, 2000). Also available in Spanish: Poesía del Antiguo Testamento (UBS, 2001), translated and adapted by Alfredo Tepox.
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  • Idiomatic Expressions of the Hebrew Bible, by Jean-Marc Babut (BIBAL Press, 1999). This study explores the interpretation of idiomatic expressions in Biblical Hebrew, demonstrating an approach to their analysis with a study of seven expressions: "To Speak on the Heart," "His Ears Will Ring," "Stiffen the Neck," "If I Have Found Favor," "May I Find Favor in Your Eyes," "To Fill Behind the Lord," and shub shebut.
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  • Discourse Perspectives on Hebrew Poetry in the Scriptures, ed. by Ernst Wendland (UBS, 1994). Procedures for analysing the discourse organization of a poetic text are defined and these are applied to specific texts.

  • The Apocrypha in Ecumenical Perspective, ed. by Siegfried Meurer, editor; translated by Paul Ellingworth (UBS, 1991). The place of the late writings of the Old Testament among the biblical writings, and their significance in the eastern and western church traditions.

  • Meaningful Translation: Its Implications for the Reader, ed. by Johannes P Louw (UBS, 1991). The exegetical implications of attempting to prepare meaningful translations are discussed.

  • Graphic Design and Bible Reading, by Ernst Wendland and Johannes Louw (Bible Society of South Africa, 1993). Exploratory studies in the typographical representation of the text of Scripture in Translation. Various formats of selected Bible passages are compared and evaluated in terms of how their graphic layout enhances/impairs readability and understanding.

  • Lexicography and Translation: With special reference to Bible Translation, ed. by Johannes Louw (Bible Society of South Africa, 1985). Articles by J P Louw, E Wendland, E A Nida, W C Van Wyk, J Lubbe and W S Vorster.

  • Style and Discourse: With special reference to the text of the Greek New Testament, by Eugene Nida and others (Bible Society of South Africa, 1983). A description of the elements of Greek style and discourse and their significance to the translation of The Greek New Testament.

  • The Practice of Translating: Drills for Training Translators, by Jacob Loewen (UBS, 1981). A set of drills for training translators to recognize and solve typical problems encountered in Bible translating using a dynamic equivalent approach.

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Translation and Culture

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Translation in Africa

  • Bible Translation & African Languages, ed. by Gosnell Yorke and Peter Renju (Acton, 2004)
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  • Biblical Texts & African Audiences, ed. by Ernst Wendland & Jean-Claude Loba Mkole (Acton, 2004)
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  • God Speaks in Our Own Languages, by Aloo Mojola (Bible Societies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, 1999). "...offers an overview of [Bible translation] from its beginnings in 1844 to the present [in] Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda" (from the cover).

  • 150 Years of Bible Translation in Kenya, by Aloo Mojola (Bible Societies of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, 1994). Booklet providing a historical overview of translation in Kenya.

  • Bridging the Gap: African Traditional Religion and Bible Translation, ed. by Philip Stine and Ernst Wendland (UBS, 1990). Studies in translating religious vocabulary in several African cultures.

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Indexes, Concordances, and Notes

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Bible Lands as Classroom DVDs

The Bible Lands as Classroom series (eight 45 minute DVDs) is an excellent teaching tool for Bible translators, pastors, and people in general who would like to know more about biblical geography, history, and culture. Krijn van der Jagt and Ray Pritz scripted the series, which was filmed in Israel and the Middle East, including many ancient sites, and is a two-week training course for Bible translators. The DVDs include:

  • Part One: Geography, Climate, Agriculture
  • Part Two: From Abraham to Joshua
  • Part Three: From Joshua to Hezekiah
  • Part Four: From Hezekiah to Herod
  • Part Five: New Testament: The Gospels
  • Part Six: Spread of the Early Church in the Roman Empire
  • Part Seven: The Religions of the Ancient Near East
  • Part Eight: Bible Text and Canon
  • Presenter’s Manual: Background readings and exercises

The DVD on geography, climate, and agriculture includes topics such as: significant mountains, trade routes, wells, harvesting, and grinding. The second through the sixth DVDs are on Old and New Testament history and culture, including topics such as kings, surrounding nations, important events, descriptions of the tabernacle, synagogues, burial practices, mourning, stoning, tools, fishing, etc. The seventh DVD describes the religions of the ancient tribes of the area and the Hebrew tabernacle and sacrificing customs. The eighth DVD is about the history of the Bible from ancient times to the present. An additional CD, entitled ‘Presenter’s Manual,’ contains information about conducting the course and the reading assignments for each of the DVDs.

Order online: Go to the UBS Shop and create an account.

The cost is $100 (includes shipping), $60 for UBS and SIL.