Training for Bible translators on the horizon at Southeastern

by Jerry Higgins, posted Tuesday, July 08, 2003 (17 years ago)

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is poised to offer a new doctoral program emphasis that will provide the International Mission Board with world-class linguists as it reaches people groups around the world with the Gospel.

Pending faculty approval in August, Southeastern's Ph.D. program will soon begin offering a new concentration in Bible translation, a cross-disciplinary study intended to turn out scholars qualified to translate the Scriptures from the original Greek and Hebrew into languages that have never had written copies of the Bible.

The program, which will start in the fall of 2004, was conceived after Southeastern's academic dean, L. Russ Bush, heard about the IMB's partnership with Wycliffe Bible Translators to appoint translators for service overseas. Knowing that no Southern Baptist seminary currently offers a degree program in translation, Bush contacted Andreas Kostenberger, director of Southeastern's Ph.D. program and a respected Greek scholar. The two then developed the idea for a Ph.D. concentration in translation.

The program will be cross-disciplinary, Kostenberger noted, because it will require proficiency in Greek and Hebrew as well as advanced training in linguistics.

The goal, he said, is to produce world-class scholars equipped to "interpret the Bible today in our changing world."

Southeastern already has a faculty well-qualified to lead the program, Kostenberger said. Among others, he mentioned linguistics expert Fred Williams, who has trained Southeastern mission students in languages for several years, and David Alan Black, a well-known author who also headed up production of the International Standard Version New Testament.

Bush said he fully expects Southeastern's faculty to endorse the proposal this fall because it fits right in with the school's trademark combination of scholastic excellence and evangelistic zeal.

"Our campus is immersed in the mission effort worldwide," Bush said. "This is a wonderful way to blend a technical scholarly skill with a practical and effective mission task. That is exactly that for which Southeastern is known."

Avery Willis, the IMB's senior vice president of overseas operations, said, "The International Mission Board heartily endorses this Bible translation program to provide Scriptures for the more than 5,000 languages that do not have a written Bible. It also will assist us and Wycliffe in translating Chronological Bible Stories for use in evangelism and church planting while the written Bible is being translated for a people group. We need scholars to speed up the process of providing the Word of God to all peoples."


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