Translating the Bible Into Action: How the Bible Can Be Relevant in All Languages and Cultures

ISBN 978 1903689 53 0
322 pages.
Published 5/5/2010

£4.99 - £14.99

Paperback, Kindle, Epub

When Jesus was born to Mary, God ‘translated’ himself into our human world. This act  of God’s translation continues today wherever the gospel is expressed in particular languages and lived out in particular cultures. Unfortunately, the church often ignores its cultural and linguistic diversity and, instead, imposes a dominant ‘language’ and ‘culture’ for expressing faith. This textbook challenges that situation. It helps church leaders encourage people to communicate with God in their own language, to discover that Christ wants to make himself at home in their world.

First, the authors identify common barriers that prevent people from engaging with Scripture, especially in the context of multilingual churches.

Next, they explore ways churches can maintain unity in Christ and celebrate the diversity of their membership. The book helps people use Scripture in relevant ways to share their faith with people of all types and ages. It includes the use of music, drama, and the visual arts. It covers many practical issues associated with Scripture engagement. Each chapter begins with a story about Pastor Simon and his adventures. Teaching points set the theme, but much of the learning takes place in group discussions and exercises. The content is written in such a way that students can straightaway apply what they’ve learnt and teach it to others. The whole book can be used as a textbook for a course; a selection of chapters can be studied in a seminar; or individual chapters can be used on their own in shorter meetings.

Harriet Hill holds a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently the SIL International Scripture Use Coordinator. She has lived long-term in Côte d’Ivoire working in anthropology, Bible translation, and Scripture engagement. She has widespread teaching experience, particularly in Africa, in informal workshops, and also in theological colleges in Kenya and Ghana. Margaret Hill has an MA in Education and Linguistics from the University of Manchester, UK and is currently the Africa Area Scripture Use Coordinator for SIL. She has lived long-term in Nigeria and Congo DRC, working in Bible translation, literacy and Scripture engagement. She has widespread teaching experience, particularly in Africa, both in informal workshops and in theological colleges in Kenya, Ghana, and Central African Republic. She also serves as an international translation consultant.

Written clearly and simply and aimed at pastors and missionaries who work in multilingual environments – like most parts of Africa – this book looks at common misunderstandings about language, culture and the gospel which lead to people failing to engage with it well. Rather than keeping the Bible for elites, just for Sunday formal activities and for impressing people, the book goes through several settings and ways in which the Bible in meaningful language can and should fit into everyday life, addressing the whole life, culture and all. It addresses redeeming the arts.

We’ve found it a very helpful book to use in Nigeria, both in Kindle format and in print.


Barriers to Engaging with Scripture
Using Appropriate Scripture Products
Theological Foundations
Language in the Plan of God
Culture in the Plan of God
Mother-Tongue Scripture Use and Church Growth
Multilingual Churches
Using Scripture in Multilingual Churches
Helping Interpreters Perform Well
Multi-Ethnic Churches
Relevant Bible Use
Identifying Relevant Issues
Providing Necessary Background Information
Preparing Bible Studies
Addressing Human Concerns: Trauma Healing
Addressing Human Concerns: HIV-AIDS and the Church
Preparing Sermons
Meditating on God’s Word
Sharing Faith
Bible Storying
Preparing for Good News Encounters
Engaging People with Scripture in Evangelism
How Muslims Use the Bible
Engaging Children and Youth with Scripture
Family Prayers
Using Your Gifts
Engaging People with Scripture through Music
Engaging People with Scripture through Drama
Engaging People with Scripture through the Visual Arts
Mother-tongue Reading and Writing for Literates
Basic Literacy and Scripture
Passing It On
Research, Marketing, and Distribution
How to Bring about Change
Preparing for Scripture Engagement Seminars

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