Better Bibles training

Better Bibles are made by people with better training. I am pleased to post (as requested) this announcement of a new D.Min. track at  Gordon-Conwell Seminary for developing better Bible translators. This new training course will help graduates produce better Bibles in any language including English; the principles for good Bible translation are the same for any language):

CONTACT: Anne Doll, Director of Communications, at 978.646.4141 or Evenings and weekends, call 978.884.1116.
May 6, 2009

Michael Colaneri, Assistant Director of Communications, at 978.646.4064 or

Gordon-Conwell Offers Doctor of Ministry Degree in Bible Translation

South Hamilton, MA— Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is introducing a new Bible Translation track to its Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program beginning in May 2010.

This degree program is a professional doctorate designed for translation consultants/project coordinators. Primarily a distance-based program, it requires three two-week residencies,  study and research completed between each residency, and a final, ministry-based D.Min. thesis project.

The Bible Translation track has been developed in partnership with The Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship, a premiere research entity for translation work associated with the American Bible Society. The second year two-week residency of the program will take place in conjunction with the Institute’s Nida School for Translation Studies in Misano, Italy.

Commenting on the new doctoral degree program, Philip H. Towner, Ph.D., Dean of The Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship, notes, “One of the biggest challenges in the Bible translation mission comes in providing the training—at the highest possible level—that will ensure translators and translation consultants are equipped to accomplish the variety of tasks they are called on to perform. Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary’s new D. Min. in Bible Translation, under very qualified leadership and constructed around some strategic partnerships, promises to contribute significantly towards meeting this need.”

The co-mentors of the program are Dr. Bryan L. Harmelink, International Translation Coordinator for SIL International, and Dr. Roy Ciampa, Associate Professor of New Testament and Chair of the Biblical Studies Division at Gordon-Conwell. Dr. Ciampa has been actively involved in helping the Portuguese Bible Society with the revision of its contemporary Portuguese translation of the Bible.

Students in the Bible Translation track will benefit from significant engagement with the faculty and teaching staff of the Nida School, as well as the track co-mentors and other faculty of Gordon-Conwell. The goal is to equip students with the skills necessary to effectively deal with the complex challenges they face as they provide the Scriptures to the peoples of the world.

According to Freddy Boswell, Executive Director of SIL International, and Roberto Laver, the Executive Director of the Forum of Bible Agencies International, “The Translation Development Group of the Forum of Bible Agencies International heartily endorses the new Doctor of Ministry program in Bible Translation at Gordon-Conwell Seminary. It fills a niche need that is not met in any other program of its kind: state-of-the-art instruction on technical aspects of several integrated academic fields of study plus practical and hands-on application in the real world of Bible translation. The students and faculty are both professionals in this field, and we look forward to seeing the global cause of Bible translation advance as a result of this degree program!”

More information about the program is available by contacting Roy Ciampa at For admissions-related issues, please contact Peter Cooper, D.Min. Admissions Coordinator, at or 978.646.4163. Further information can be found at

About Gordon-Conwell

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is a multi-denominational evangelical Protestant graduate school serving more than 2,000 students on campuses in South Hamilton and Boston, Massachusetts, and Charlotte, North Carolina, and an extension site in Jacksonville, Florida. Students on the campuses represent 93 denominations and 39 foreign countries. The seminary ranks fifth largest in size among all seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools of the United States and Canada. Gordon-Conwell offers many degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels and has gained an international reputation for leading faculty in the areas of Biblical Studies, Ministry and Theology.

12 thoughts on “Better Bibles training

  1. danny says:

    I’m proud of Gordon-Conwell. Dr Ciampa was a professor of mine and always had helpful thoughts on Bible translation. I wonder if it’ll matter that it’s a DMin rather than a PhD.

  2. Wayne Leman says:

    Danny, I’ve known Dr. Ciampa (via email) for many years. Seems like a fine man.

    You asked:

    I wonder if it’ll matter that it’s a DMin rather than a PhD.

    It will matter in some places but not in others. I do not believe there is currently a Ph.D in Bible Translation Theory and Practice available anywhere in the world. That would be a nice degree.

  3. danny says:

    Part of the issue is that Gordon-Conwell does not offer PhD programs. So they don’t really have an option, I suppose.

    Dr Ciampa is a good man, I enjoyed his classes thoroughly.

  4. Peter Kirk says:

    I am pretty sure that it is possible to do a Ph.D. or equivalent in Bible Translation in the Netherlands, at the University of Leiden or the Free University of Amsterdam. But these would be largely research degrees on the European model, although I think they have masters level courses as a starter.

  5. David E. S. Stein says:

    Hmm. The planned program (as exemplified by its sample reading list) does not seem to include a study of source-text grammar, syntax, philology, or lexicography; nor a study of the societies, cultures, or social history of the ancient Near East.

    This has me wondering: Can good translations really result without such study? Or is it that “translation consultants/project coordinators” do not need to know such things, leaving it for some other part of the translation team?

  6. Wayne Leman says:

    David asked:

    This has me wondering: Can good translations really result without such study? Or is it that “translation consultants/project coordinators” do not need to know such things, leaving it for some other part of the translation team?

    Good observation, David. I don’t know how the seminary program developers would answer but I personally would answer that the best quality Bible translation does not occur without such study. Translation consultants and project coordinators, however, do not need to be the project personnel who do such study. So I would answer “yes” to your second question.

    There are a number of important scholarly disciplines which need to be included for best quality in a Bible translation project. It is often the case that these disciplines are spread among several different members of a translation team. It would make a good blog post someday to enumerate what each of these disciplines are. You are stated several important areas. One discipline which is often included in translation projects for bibleless people groups is careful study of the linguistics of the target translation language. Unfortunately, this discipline is usually omitted for English Bible translation projects. And yet English linguistics is one of the best studied disciplines so there are good resources and study program available for English linguistics which has critically important payoff for English Bible translation quality. The problem is not lack of English linguistic resources or training programs, but lack of recognition that English Bible translation teams need to include this scholarly discipline for good Bible translation. Many understand that it is necessary to include good exegesis, biblical languages exegesis, ANE studies, etc. to address issues of adequate understanding of the biblical source texts, but then assume that it is essentially sufficient for members of the translation team just to be a native speaker of English. That misses the mark for an important half of the total translation resources needed for adequate translation.

  7. danny says:

    Those are good thoughts, David and Wayne. I wonder what the expectation level is for those entering the program, as far as the issues David raised. I know Gordon-Conwell has a strong focus on biblical languages, exegesis, etc. But not everyone entering the program will have been educated at Gordon-Conwell. Perhaps the assumption/requirement is that those entering this program will have studied these ahead of time?

  8. John Hobbins says:

    This is great news! Gordon-Conwell is an excellent institution. I imagine that the degree program will be one point of departure among many for those most serious about pursuing the goal of better translations of the Bible.

  9. Chad H says:

    Myself and several students at seminary have searched for degree programs in Bible Translation. Have all the options for doctoral degrees already been identified here? Is anyone aware of others? Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary once proposed such a degree.

  10. Wayne Leman says:

    Chad asked:

    Have all the options for doctoral degrees already been identified here? Is anyone aware of others?

    Check out the Missiology program at Fuller Seminary to see if one can do a Bible translation focus for a D.Minn. there.

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