This document describes the implications of the return of the authority for and ownership of the process of Bible translation worldwide to the global Church. It describes the “historical era” (pre-1800s) of Bible translation (p. 5) and suggests that during this era, Bible translation was generally undertaken by translators who translated the biblical texts into their own languages. In the early 1800s, the Church established Bible societies to increase the availability of Bible translations at the lowest possible cost (p. 6). Bible translation in this “1.0” era was often connected with the missionary and evangelistic endeavors. Translation projects were generally undertaken by people translating into a second language and managed by parachurch organizations.
In the 1980s, a shift toward “Bible translation 2.0” began, with greater involvement of the Church and native speakers of the target language.This document suggests that the transition to a fully Church-owned and Church-governed Bible translation movement is al- ready underway, referred to here as “Bible translation 3.0” (p. 6-7).
Over 4,000 living languages do not have any translated Scripture (p. 8). This document argues that from a biblical basis, each language is of equal value, independent of its number of speakers or viability, and that the Church in each language should be able to have as much translated Scripture as they desire (p. 9). It further suggests that departing from reliance on an institutional model for Bible translation opens up unprecedented opportunities for the global Church to directly meet their own need for translated Scripture in every language (p. 11).
The document then describes ten aspects of Bible translation that are directly affected by the foundational shift to a Church-owned and governed movement (p. 14). These areas are: the assessment and prioritization of translation projects (p. 15), training and resources (p. 16), process and methodology (p. 17), technology tools (p. 19), checking (p. 20), certification (p. 21), publishing (p. 23), distribution (p. 24), counting and statistics (p. 26), and funding (p. 28).
One of the most pivotal issues in Bible translation pertains to the ownership of God’s Word and the answer to the question: “Is the Bible the common property of the Church?” (p. 29). This question is considered in light of how and when the Bible became restricted by copyright. The document then addresses the question: “Does the Bible need to be protected?” (p. 33). The implications of these topics are exceedingly important for Bible translation and addressed in detail (p. 39) before considering the role of parachurch organizations in the Digital Age (p. 42) and describing new opportunities in publishing and authentication (p. 45).
Finally, the paper concludes by addressing three key aspects of a Church-centric Bible translation movement—unrestricted biblical resources (p. 47), translation training, translation tools (p. 48)—and a strategy for making all of it available in the gateway languages of the world so that the global Church can rapidly collaborate together to meet their own needs.
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