The Importance of Training

Posted on: 
January 27, 2023

We expect that a surgeon would spend years in training and apprenticeships before he ever attempts his first surgery. Likewise, a lawyer would spend years in law school before he ever represents a case in the courthouse. Should a missionary go to the field without training? Should a translator translate the Scriptures with no preparation? The work of a missionary, whether Bible translator or church planter, is a work that requires the utmost care and training.

All-Nations estimates 2 to 4 years of training in various fields. Let me point out a few areas of study in which a New Testament translator would expect to be trained and how it benefits the work of translation.

  • Linguistics. This is the study of language and its systems. Linguistic studies range from a study of phonetic sounds to the study of how culture and language interrelate (sociolinguistics). This aids in the area of language and culture acquisition. For example, what if you noticed that the language you are studying is reversed compared to what you are accustomed to hearing in English. They might say “John - with” rather than “with John.” Is that possible? Linguistics teaches that postpositions (like this example, in contrast to English prepositions) are a very common phenomenon that occur in the world’s languages. Therefore, a trained linguist will not be surprised when encountering phenomena like this.
  • Translation. Translation is usually considered a branch of linguistics, but I would like to treat it separately to give it proper emphasis. The Bible uses many figures of speech that may or may not translate into the target language. Luke 2:4 says that Joseph was of the “house and lineage of David.” What if the reader in the target language literally thinks he lives in David’s house? Figures of speech like this one may lead readers to a wrong understanding. The study of translation theory and practice teaches both how to find potential problems and how to best deal with them.
  • Biblical Language. For a New Testament translator the study of Greek is essential. No, just reading a passage in Greek will not help him find a large golden nugget, but the careful discipline of studying a passage in the original language may help a translator pickup on small nuances that can be missed in a translated text. Maybe the word used in Greek may correspond to a word in the target language more closely than what you would have expected if your understanding is based fully on English.
  • Biblical Studies. Classes can include things like a New Testament survey or a study on biblical hermeneutics (interpreting the Bible). Background historical information can be helpful in understanding the meaning of a passage. For example, why did John write to the church of Laodicea about water being hot or cold? Research the geography of the area and you may find that there was a reason!

—David S, New Testament translator

To learn more about training for translators, visit Be an Old Testament translator or Be a New Testament translator.

  • “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
  • “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witness of these things.” Luke 24:47, 48
  • “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Matthew 28:19
  • “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
  • “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel.” Ephesians 3:6
  • “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:21
  • “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’?” Mark 11:17
  • “Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance.” Psalm 2:8
  • “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes.” Revelation 7:9
  • “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
  • “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25
  • “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10
  • “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.” Psalm 22:27
  • “Truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” Numbers 14:21
  • “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:3, 4
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
  • “That all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” 1 Kings 8:60
  • “For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations.” Malachi 1:11
  • “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9
  • “For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61:11
  • "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" Psalm 46:10
  • "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:3, 4
  • "You are worthy. . .; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God." Revelation 5:9, 10