TIC Talk 57, 2004

Newsletter of the United Bible Societies Translation Information Clearinghouse

Article: A Survey of Creole Language Studies, by Marlon Winedt
Publication Notices on Bible Translation
Publication Notices on Biblical Studies
News and Notes: CBS Kitchener office, Traducción de la Biblia, SIL Workshop

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A Survey of Creole Language Studies

by Marlon Winedt

Over the last 30 years Creole language study has become a focal point in linguistics. What is immediately obvious in the literature is the diversity in approaches and vehement discussions on almost every point that concerns these languages, from their origins to prognostics for the future. One theory cannot account for all of the linguistic, historical and social dynamics of the different types of Creoles and pidgins around the world. The following discussion will define pidgins and Creoles briefly, and describe the various theories of Creole genesis, the present stage of acceptance and development of Atlantic Creoles, and the emerging role of Scripture translation in the promotion and standardization of these languages. A selected bibliography is attached for further study.

What is a Creole language? What is a pidgin?

The very definition of Creoles and/or pidgins is subject to debate because it is intimately linked to one’s view of their genesis. Probably the best approach is to define a prototypical Creole and pidgin and then see how some differ from this theoretical standard. A pidgin is a contact language that develops through regular but limited contact between two or more groups that need to communicate for a short term or for restricted purposes such as trade, where none of the groups has competency in the other’s language.

It is nobody’s mother tongue, but arises through a process of linguistic negotiation where ease of learning and restricted communicative use is in focus. Its lexical reach is limited and it exhibits significant gaps in various linguistic features. Lexical items and grammatical features from both languages combine to create the pidgin. Pidgins usually take their limited vocabulary predominantly from one of the languages in the contact situation, which is why one can speak of, for example, “English pidgin” or “Vietnamese French pidgin.” The language that is the predominant source of vocabulary is called the “lexifier.”

Some pidgins are only further developed in terms of lexicon and syntax with the next generation of speakers, for whom it becomes their mother tongue. At this point it becomes a Creole, a full-fledged language in its own right. A working definition of a Creole, then, is: a contact language whose lexicon is predominantly derived from a lexifier language, but whose syntax is at least partially derived from another (substrate) language.

From the perspective of historical linguistics, a Creole does not result from evolutionary modifications within one source (mother language) as in the case of English, German, French and Spanish, which can all be traced to one common Indo-European language. A Creole does not have a single parent language but may have different “daughter” languages. It is a contact language and its history can be traced back to the time of contact between the two or more groups that generated the language.

However, research has shown that an important group of Creoles probably did not have a pidgin in their past. Some Creoles have arisen abruptly, as in the case of many Caribbean Atlantic Creoles where the mixed population of slaves urgently needed a common language to communicate. There would have been no time for a pidgin to develop between two or more language groups: many slaves would not have had the possibility of maintaining their own language while using a pidgin as a second language.

Another issue is that because of the dominance of European languages in general in linguistic studies of the past, and the focus on Atlantic Creoles, many have erroneously been led to believe that only European lexified Creoles or pidgins exist. But there are Creoles in a wide range of language groups: there exist or existed Arabic lexifier Creoles or pidgins, Astronesian lexifier Creoles or pidgins and Amerindian lexifier Creoles or pidgins, to mention just a few (see http://www.ethnologue.com/ for descriptions of Creoles worldwide). However, the remainder of this summary will refer mostly to Atlantic Creoles, since they have become the most studied examples in the linguistic communities.

How does a Creole language come into existence?

The lexifier language for most Creoles is not difficult to trace—it is obvious that English lexified Jamaican Patois, and French, Haitian Creole. By comparison, determining how a given Creole syntax was formed can be much trickier. The case for the substrate influence of west coast African languages in Atlantic Creoles is strong, but there is no consensus on the exact languages. On the other hand, some have seen the syntax as the result of an imperfect foreign language learning with the European superstrate language as the target, while others attribute regional dialectal influence.

Tracing the syntactic and lexical development of Creoles in fact has to do with how the languages came into existence. There are radically opposing theories when it comes to the genesis of Creoles.

The Monogenetic theory: a relic from the past?

One theory is that all European-based Creoles derive from a common language, according to some the old medieval language called Lingua Franca, an Italian-based universal language in vogue among seamen and travellers from Europe. Another variation on the theme postulates a West African Portuguese lingua franca spoken by slave traders and people in West African settlements. This language became the means of communication between different groups (European and non-European) in the context of the transatlantic slave trade. The problem is, this accounts for similarities among European-based Creoles, but not their dissimilarities. Comparative analysis of the world’s Creoles and pidgins has shown the theory does not hold up in the face of the structural diversity within this language group. Partially for that reason, a softer version of the theory has emerged: different categories of Creoles have different common ancestors, as, for example, English-based Creoles versus French-based Creoles and/or Portuguese-based Creoles. These kinds of variations on the monogenetic theory are still very much in vogue.

Bickerton’s Language Bioprogram Hypothesis

The monogenetic theory belongs to a time when Creole studies were based mainly on European lexified samples and the study of Atlantic Creoles. The status quaestionis in Creole genesis theories is now characterized by abrupt genesis versus gradual development theories. Derek Bickerton, who developed the so-called Language Bioprogram Hypothesis is an example of an abrupt genesis adherent, believing that within one generation the pidgin was transformed by the descendants of the pidgin-speaking community into a full-fledged Creole language. This transformation is guided by a genetically inherited intellectual capacity all humans share, which accounts for certain similar features among Creoles, and their seeming preference for unmarked linguistic structures. The fact that so many other languages have an evolutionary development which differs from this innate default setting would be due to the strong corrective influence of the environment, i.e., adult language speakers. For example, a Spanish-speaking child would also develop the linguistic input he gets into a Creole type language without much morphology, if left to his own devices without intensive adult correction and training.

According to this theory, the study of Creoles should lead to the discovery of the “default” innate language settings. Most Creoles, for example, do not have extensive verbal morphology but make use of the preverbal Tense Mood Aspect particle sequence to communicate time/aspect features and this is what is most natural to the human brain.

Among the problems Bickerton’s theory has faced is that historical investigation into the demographics of the slave trade shows that in many plantation situations there was an increased influx of adult slaves after the first group and not a great increase in the child population born from the first group, which is a prerequisite for his theory to hold up. Furthermore, studies of multilingual settings show that parents are at least as much inclined, if not more so, to speak their own (African) mother tongue to their children instead of the “community pidgin.” And last but not least, Bickerton is unable to explain why so many Creoles do have a certain level of morphological tagging. To mention just a few: Papiamentu has a prefix for the participial form, the African Creole Kituba has two tense prefixes and the West African Portuguese-lexifier Creole Fa d’Ambu has a wide range of diminutive or augmentative prefixes.

So with time Bickerton had to restrict his theory to a very small sample of Creole languages, if not solely to his primary field of study, Hawai’i Creole English, thus removing its universalistic claims. On the other hand, his analysis of common Creole syntactic features based on a formal generativist grammatical analysis still makes a more modest universalistic approach based on innate linguistic features attractive to those who adhere to the generativist agenda. One thing is for sure: Bickerton has to be credited with propelling Creole languages to the center of linguistic debate and demonstrating their importance as languages in their own right.

Other abrupt genesis theories: Relexification and negotiation

According to Bickerton’s hypothesis, development from pidgin to Creole takes place within one generation. Compared to the development in internal language change (e.g., from Latin to French), this is quite abrupt. Another “abrupt” theory is Claire Lefebvre’s theory of relexification. The hypothesis is that adults relexified their own African mother tongues by means of the European language. This theory requires the sociolinguistic conditions of the African language(s) disappearing completely by the time the Creole was formed. Lefebvre’s intensive study of Haitian Creole attempts to prove that it is a relexification of Fon, a West African language. In this hypothesis and variants of it, the focus is not on the European language, but on the substrate language that partially gave the Creole its semantics and syntax. Research by linguists who are mother tongue speakers of one or more of the historically relevant West African languages promises to uncover more profound influences in some Atlantic Creoles. The linguistic department of the University of Amsterdam is involved in that endeavour.

Of course, this relexification theory does not answer all the questions. Even if one could show that in a particular situation there was a large monolingual community—Fon-speaking in the case of Haitian plantations—the theory suggests that the European lexifier would not have had any syntactical influence on the substrate language. Furthermore, relexification normally takes place in a somewhat bilingual situation whereas the slaves were not bilingual French/Creole speakers. Instead, the sociolinguistic situation imposed upon them the need for a new intralingual means of communication. Relexification would rather take place later on when a future generation of Creole speakers would relexify the language with words from another language in which they have some competence.

Another theory of abrupt Creole genesis sees Creole formation as a result of a type of second language acquisition strategy. The European language is being ­acquired by part of the speech communities, while the lexifier language speakers (e.g., slave owners) can also be involved in the creation stage of the Creole. When people learn another language there is automatically interference from both input languages.

More promising is the theory of negotiation developed by Thomason and Kaufman (1988) which views a pidgin or a Creole as the result of cross-language negotiation between different groups. They have shown that it is not just a matter of simple addition of features from the input languages (European lexifier and African substrate), but features that are not original to any of the input languages can develop because of the need for linguistic compromise.

Gradualist theories of Genesis

In opposition to the “abrupt” Creole language development reconstructions, gradual development theories see Creole formation as extending over a number of generations. Especially in the case of Jamaican Patois, Haitian Creole, and Sranan Tongo (the English lexifier Creole of Suriname), this has been investigated with some success. Historical investigation of written documents in these languages in the 1980’s, as well as demographic analysis of the historical speech community played an important role in the emergence of these theories. In many cases it has become clear that the number of locally born slaves/blacks did not surpass the importing of African born blacks in the first generations. So there was no immediate next generation that was populous enough to carry the nativization of the pidgin—that is, to transform the inherited pidgin into the mother tongue of the children. Changes detected over the course of time in documents from different periods show that the Creole’s formation was not abrupt, but continued after what was supposed to be the cutoff period.

Bible translation and the sociolinguistic reality

Creole languages have come into their own in the linguistic world and are also catching up in the Bible translation world. Although in many Creoles the oldest extant written texts include Scripture material, as in the case of Papiamentu, Negerhollands (Danish Virgin Islands), and Sranan Tongo, in modern times the advance of Scripture translation has not always been as smooth. In many Creole-speaking societies there has been an engrained subestimation of the mother tongue. Especially in situations where the lexifier language coexists with the Creole language it has influenced, people tend to see the latter as a “broken form” of the European language. For example, Jamaican educational and church circles have opposed the translation of Scripture into Patois, because people see the Creole as a substandard form of English. The tendency to de-creolize has also been noted, that is when speakers try to use the “higher form” (acrolect) of the Creole that resembles the lexifier language more closely. The “basilectal” (basic, more Creole-like) form is often considered to be primitive or substandard. Even so Scripture translations are underway in different Creoles in the Caribbean and on the other side of the Atlantic. Haitian Creole and Papiamentu have seen the publication of a complete Bible, while in St Lucian Creole and Sranan Tongo a New Testament has been issued. There are projects underway in Gullah (Sea Island Creole English), Jamaican Patois, Guadeloupean French Creole and Guyanese French Creole, and Cape Verdean Creole, among others.

Bible translation offers an opportunity to study these languages systematically, since the very work of translation results in databases for further analysis. Moreover, Bible translation by definition implies standardization, an antidote to a typical problem of oral languages like Creoles, that is, extreme (lexical and at times even grammatical) variation. Bible translation in Creole languages is indeed an exciting field where different aspects of sociolinguistic analysis come into play and where Creole translations prove to be an effective means of communication, being in languages of the heart.

Challenges for the future remain, such as the need for analysis of translations to provide information on language strategies used by native speakers. In many cases, there is a lack of linguistic information where mother tongue speakers continue to see their own native tongue as inferior or substandard. It is time for a harmony model instead of a conflict model. The Creole language provides identity while the European colonial language, whether the lexifier language or not, provides upward mobility by means of access to more reflexive scientific discourse. In most situations both will probably be needed, even as the Creole in many instances is becoming a vehicle language of education. In the traditional conflict model, the speech community asserts its political and ethnic allegiance by exclusively adopting one of the languages; in a harmony model complementary functions for the different languages are recognized, resulting, for example, in some type of bilingual education.


The central problem in Creolistics is the fact that the main players often refuse to admit that despite similarities between Creoles both in terms of language typology as well as the socio-historical underpinning, no one theory of origin and thus no one analytic tool can encompass all types of Creoles. The various theories each have something to add to our knowledge and our arsenal of analytic tools.

In order to facilitate Scripture engagement, one cannot bypass these languages as effective means of communication. Often the translation of Scripture gives legitimacy to the Creole, while at the same time offering a means of standardization and stabilization. The field of descriptive translation studies holds great promise for Creole translations and linguistics; the more we study the process of translation and the actual use of the translation, the more we will sharpen our linguistic theories on Creoles and our translation theories in general, and in Bible translation specifically.

Selected Bibliography (especially 1990-2004)

Atlantic Meets Pacific: A Global View of Pidginization and Creolization. 1993. F.J. Byrne and J.A. Holm, eds. Benjamins.

Bickerton, Derek. 1984. “The Language Bioprogram Hypothesis.” The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 7: 173-221.

——. 1981. Roots of Language. Karoma.

Chaudenson, Robert. 1995. Les créoles. P.U.F.

——, and Salikoko Mufwene. 2001. Creolization of Language and Culture. Routledge.

Contact Languages: A Wider Perspective. 1997. S.G. Thomason, ed. Benjamins.

Creole Genesis, Attitudes and Discourse: Studies Celebrating Charlene J. Sato. 1999. J.R. Rickford and S. Romaine, eds. Benjamins.

Creole Languages and Language Acquisition. 1996. H. Wekker, ed. Mouton de Gruyter.

Creole Movements in the Francophone Orbit. 1993. E.M. Schnepel and L.-F. Prudent, eds. Mouton de Gruyter.

Creoles, Pidgins, and Sundry Languages: Essays in Honor of Pieter Seuren. 2000. J. Arends, ed. Mouton de Gruyter.

Creolization and Contact. 2001. N. Smith and T. Veenstra, eds. Benjamins.

Degrees of Restructuring in Creole Languages. 2000. I. Neumann-Holzschuh and E.W. Schneider, eds. Benjamins.

Development and Structures of Creole Languages: Essays in Honor of Derek Bickerton. 1991. F.J. Byrne and T. Huebner, eds. Benjamins.

The Early Stages of Creolization. 1996. J. Arends, ed. Benjamins.

Focus and Grammatical Relations in Creole Languages: Papers from the University of Chicago Conference on Focus and Grammatical Relations in Creole Languages. 1993. F. Byrne and D. Winford, eds. Benjamins.

From Contact to Creole and Beyond. 1995. P. Baker, ed. Univ. of Westminster Press.

Hall, Robert, Jr. 1966. Pidgin and Creole Languages. Cornell.

Hazaël-Massieux, Guy. 1996. Les créoles: problèmes de genèse et de description. Publ. de l’Univ. de Provence.

Hazaël-Massieux, Marie-Christine. 1999. Les créoles: l’indispensable survie. Ed. Entente.

——. 1991. Bibliographie des études créoles: langues, cultures, sociétés. With Robert Chaudenson and D. de Robillard. Didier Érudition.

Holm, John A. 2000. An Introduction to Pidgins and Creoles. Cambridge Univ. Press.

——. 1988-1989. Pidgins and Creoles. 2 vols. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Huber, Magnus. 1999. Ghanaian Pidgin English in its West African Context: A Sociohistorical and Structural Analysis. Benjamins.

Kaye, Alan S., and Mauro Tosco. 2001. Pidgin and Creole Languages: A Basic Introduction. LINCOM Europa.

Language Change and Language Contact in Pidgins and Creoles. 1999. J.H. McWhorter, ed. Benjamins.

Language Creation and Language Change: Creolization, Diachrony, and Development. 1999. M. DeGraff, ed. MIT Press.

Lefebvre, Claire. 2004. Issues in the Study of Pidgin and Creole Languages. Benjamins. Presents the major debates currently taking place in the field of Creole studies.

——. 1998. Creole Genesis and the Acquisition of Grammar: The Case of Haitian Creole. Cambridge UP.

——. 1993. “The Role of Relexification and Syntactic Analysis in Haitian Creole: Methodological Aspects of a Research Program.” In Africanisms in Afro-American Language Varieties, S. Mufwene, ed., University of Georgia Press, 254-279.

Manessy, Gabriel. 1995. Créoles, pidgins, variétés véhiculaires: procès et genèse. C.N.R.S.

McWhorter, John H. 2000. The missing Spanish Creoles: Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages. U of California Press.

——. 1997. Towards a New Model of Creole Genesis. Lang.

Migge, Bettina. 2003. Creole Formation as Language Contact: The Case of the Suriname Creoles. Benjamins. Evaluates current research on Creole formation from the standpoint of an investigation of the processes that led to the emergence of the morphosyntactic system of Suriname Creoles.

Mühleisen, Susanne. 2002. Creole Discourse: Exploring Prestige Formation and Change Across Caribbean English-Lexicon Creoles. Benjamins. Examines factors in the prestige formation of these Creoles and their classification. Demonstrates how the uses, functions and negotiations of Creole within particular social and linguistic practices have shifted.

Mülhäusler, Peter. 1997. Pidgin and Creole Linguistics. Expanded and revised ed. University of Westminster Press.

Papers in Pidgin and Creole Linguistics No. 5. 1998. P. Mühlhäusler, ed. Pacific Linguistics. Brings together lexicographic and sociolinguistic descriptions of some of the less well-documented Pidgins, Creoles and contact languages of the Pacific region.

Phonology and Morphology of Creole Languages. 2003. I. Plag, ed. Niemeyer.

Pidgin and Creole Linguistics in the Twenty-First Century. 2002. Gilbert, Glenn, ed. Peter Lang. Explores where the field is headed, in the judgment of eleven leading Creole scholars.

Pidgin and Creole Tense-Mood-Aspect Systems. 1990. J. Singler, ed. Benjamins.

Pidgin and Creoles: An Introduction. 1995. J. Arends, P. Muysken, and N. Smith, eds. Benjamins.

Pidgins and Creoles of the Pacific Hemisphere. 1992. P. Mühlhäusler, issue ed. Special issue, Language Sciences 14/3:181-316.

Sebba, Mark. 1997. Contact Languages: Pidgins and Creoles. St. Martin’s Press. An overview of current thinking and research on pidgins and Creoles, dealing with origin, relationship to source languages, stages of development, and how they are used in everyday interaction.

Singh, Ishtla. 2000. Pidgins and Creoles: An Introduction. Arnold.

Spreading the Word: The Issue of Diffusion among the Atlantic Creoles. 1999. M. Huber and M. Parkvall, eds. Univ. of Westminster Press.

The Structure and Status of Pidgins and Creoles: Including Selected Papers from the Meetings of the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics. 1997. A.K. Spears and D. Winford, eds. Benjamins.

Thomason, Sarah G. 2001. Language Contact: An Introduction. Edinburgh University Press.

——, and Terrence Kaufman. 1988. Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics. University of California Press.

Online discussion groups:



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Bible Translation

Barclay M. Newman and Philip C. Stine. 2003. A Handbook on Jeremiah. UBS. Prematurely announced in TT 54, the Jeremiah handbook is due to be in print by the end of April, along with the Realia handbook and Stephen Pattemore’s monograph on Revelation, Souls under the Altar: Relevance Theory and the Discourse Structure of ­Revelation.

Frank Austermann. 2003. Von der Tora zum Nomos: Untersuchungen zur Übersetzungweise und Interpretation im Septuaginta-Psalter. Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht. The “legalizing” of the LXX Psalms, where sinners are characterized as lawless and evildoers as opposing the law, resulted not from an imposed legalism but from the translator’s conservative interpretation of the word “torah.” The transformation of “torah” into “nomos” in the LXX can be described adequately only in terms of the translation process.

Eric A. Hermanson. 2004. “Colenso’s First Attempt at Bible Translation in Zulu.” In The Eye of the Storm. Bishop John Wilkliam Colenso and the Crisis of Biblical Interpretation. J. Draper, ed. T & T Clark; Cluster Publications. H. identifies J.W. Colenso’s contribution to Zulu language study and Bible translation in the 2nd half of the 19th century. In spite of inconsistencies and errors, Colenso made two significant contributions in his first attempt at translating (revising) the Bible into Zulu: he started identifying the word in Zulu as different from the word in English and, accordingly, began the tradition of writing Zulu conjunctively; and he introduced quotation marks to identify direct speech, an advantage which inexplicably was not used in other translations of the Bible in Zulu until recently. Colenso eventually produced his own NT translation, as well as a grammar and dictionary.

J.A. Naudé. 2003. “Psalm 1-50 in Afrikaans. ‘n Korpusgebaseerde Vertaalkundige Analise.” Acta Theologica 23/1:83-114. N. examines the nature of the vocabulary of the translation of Psalms 1-50 in various Afrikaans Bible translations within corpus-based translation studies and discusses the ways corpus processing techniques can be used to investigate the universal and specific features of translations.

A.H. Snyman. 2003. “Die 1983 Afrikaanse Bybelvertaling in die Lig Van Huidige Rendense en Behoeftes.” Acta Theologica 23/1:175-193. S. considers the results of a survey among users of the 1983 Afrikaans translation to determine whether a new translation is needed. The Church Advisory Committee on Afrikaans Translations recommended that a new translation should not be undertaken, but that research continue and proof translations be published in order to determine what type of translation is needed, especially addressing the need for a translation that reflects the literary forms and structures of the source texts and retains as much imagery and metaphor as possible.

T’ae-yong Ch’oe. 2002. Ch’oe T’ae-Yong Ui Uri Mal Yon’gu. Worin. A work on the history of Korean Bible versions and of Korean orthography.

L. N. Smirnov, G.K. Venediktov, and V.S. Efimova. 2002. Rol’ Perevodov Biblii v Stanovlenii i Razvitii Slavianskikh Literaturnykh Iazykov. In-t slavianovedeniia RAN. A work on the history of Slavic versions and the influence of the Bible on Slavic civilization.

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Biblical Studies


Reading the Bible in the Global Village: Cape Town. 2002. A. Masoga, N.K. Gottwald, T.S. Maluleke, et al., eds. SBL. This volume, the second Reading the Bible in the Global Village volume in the Global Perspectives in Biblical Scholarship series, contains seven papers from the 2000 SBL International Meeting that provide an introduction to issues, themes, theories, and practices characteristic of contemporary Biblical study in Africa. Contents: J.S. Ukpong, Reading the Bible in a Global Village: Issues and Challenges from African Readings; M.W. Dube, Villagizing, Globalizing, and Biblical Studies; G.O. West, Unpacking the Package That Is the Bible in African Biblical Scholarship; A. Masoga, Redefining Power: Reading the Bible in Africa from the Peripheral and Central Positions; N.K. Gottwald, The Role of Biblical Politics in Contextual Theologies; J. Punt, Towards a Post­colonial Reading of Freedom in Paul; T.S. Maluleke, What If We Are Mistaken about Bible and Christianity in Africa?

Rhetorical Argumentation in Biblical Texts. 2002. A. Eriksson, T.H. Olbricht, and W. Überlacker, eds. Trinity Press International. 23 essays from the Lund 2000 Conference on Rhetorical Argumentation in Biblical Texts (sixth volume in the series from these conferences). This meeting focused on the means by which biblical authors (mainly NT) present and sustain arguments with the object of persuading their audiences. Some titles of more general essays: Argumentation Theory: An Overview of Approaches and Research Themes, F. van Eemeren; Argumentative Textures in Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation, V.K. Robbins; Is There Biblical Argumentation? L. Thurén. There are several discussions of the enthymeme, and books treated include Chronicles, 1 Kings 22, Luke-Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Hebrews.

Eve’s Children: The Biblical Stories Retold and Interpreted in Jewish and Christian Traditions. 2003. G.P. Luttikhuizen, ed. Brill. Papers from the fifth annual symposium of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Groningen explore the rewritings and explanations of the stories of Cain, Abel, and Seth in a variety of early Jewish and Christian sources (OT apocrypha, Philo, targumim, NT, rabbinic texts, Christian-Gnostic and patristic literature).

Susan E. Gillingham. 2002. The Image, the Depths and the Surface: Multivalent Approaches to Biblical Study. Sheffield Academic Press. G. illustrates how the interpretive process can sustain mutually exclusive readings that at the same time can be argued to be truthful. Using three representative texts (Genesis 2-3, Isaiah 23, and Amos 5), she summarizes and juxtaposes plausible historical-critical and literary-critical readings, and argues for a reading method that embraces multivalence rather than one that searches for the best or most convincing reading.

Stephen Miller and Robert Huber. 2003. The Bible: A History. The Making and Impact of the Bible. Lion. Filled with excellent color graphics, this volume has five sections, the Old and New Testaments, the Bible in the Church, the Reformation, and the modern era.

Biblical languages


New Testament Greek and Exegesis: Essays in Honor of Gerald F. Hawthorne. 2003. A.M. Donaldson and T.B. Sailors, eds. Eerdmans. The contributions include lexical studies and expositions of texts from the Gospels and Epistles. Some titles: “Lexical glosses and definitions of qerapeu/w,” D. Aune; “Finding the devil in the details: Onomastic exegesis and the naming of evil in the world of the New Testament,” D. Penney; “A Leper in the hands of an angry Jesus,” B. Ehrman; “Liar liar and ‘this woman’ in John 7:1-8:59: From rhetorical analysis to intertextual rereading,” J. Staley; “The Meaning of a)pei/rastoj revisited,” P. Davids.


Kleine Untersuchungen zur Sprache des Alten Testaments und seiner Umwelt. 2000. R. Lehmann, ed. Harmut Spenner. This relatively new series (begun in 2000) from Mainz University is dedicated to the rapid publication of studies on grammar, lexicography, epigraphy, and paleography of biblical and extra-biblical ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, as well as Phoenician and ancient Transjordanian languages. The most recent volume (4, 2003) is T. Renz, Colometry and Accentuation in Hebrew Prophetic Poetry.

The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume 13. 2004. G.J. Botterweck, H. Ringgren, and H.-J. Fabry, eds. Eerdmans. The English edition of TDOT is nearing completion. This most recent volume, translated by David Green, covers qots-raqia‘ (88 entries). Key terms/roots included are: qara’, ra’ah, ro’sh, rab, ruah, rhm, r‘‘. The last two volumes are due this year.

Michal Ephratt. 2002. “Hebrew Morphology by Itself.” JNSL 28/2:83-99. E. considers three models for understanding Hebrew morphology: Word-based (WB), Root-based (RB) and Root-pattern based (RPB). He argues that new lexemes are generated directly from roots and patterns without any intermediate word stage. A root morpheme merges with one pattern morpheme at a time, a fact that makes the WB and RB models inadequate. The proposed root-pattern-based model succeeds in representing the bond that holds between the root morpheme and the pattern morpheme. He concludes with a brief glance at the phonological and semantic nature of the root-pattern model.

Mark F. Rooker. 2003. Studies in Hebrew Language, Intertextuality, and Theology. Mellen. R., who has written books on Leviticus and the language of Ezekiel, offers essays on a variety of OT topics: the re-use of themes and topics within the OT, textual criticism, the creation and flood accounts, the conquest of Canaan, the date of the book of Isaiah. Part One has five essays on Hebrew linguistics, mostly on diachronic analysis and dating issues; Part Two is on intertextuality (in Ezekiel and Hosea); Part Three has five essays on theology.


Studies in Scriptural Unit Division. 2002. M.C. Korpel and J.M. Oesch, eds. Van Gorcum. Along with other contributions this volume brings together the papers read during the Second Pericope Meeting (2001). The Pericope series aims to make available the data on unit delimitation found in the ancient manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, the Peshitta and the Vulgate to Bible translators and exegetes and to evaluate these data for the benefit of biblical interpretation. Most of the articles in this volume address specific texts, illustrating how paying attention to text division markers in the ancient manuscripts can assist in our understanding of the text. Some titles: J. Cook, Unit Delimitation in the Book of Proverbs: In the Light of the Septuagint of Proverbs; W.M. de Bruin, Interpreting Delimiters: The Complexity of Text Delimitation; Th. Janz, A System of Unit Division from Byzantine Manuscripts of Ezra-Nehemiah; J.W. Olley, Paragraphing in the Greek text of Ezekiel in P967: With Particular Reference to the Cologne Portion. Other texts treated are Jeremiah 30-31, Micah 2.1-13; Ben Sira, Psalms 1-14; and Micah 4.14-5.8.

Unit Delimitation in Biblical Hebrew and Northwest Semitic Literature. 2003. M.C. Korpel and J.M. Oesch, eds. Van Gorcum. This volume contains papers read during the Third Pericope Meeting (2002). Some titles: R. de Hoop, ‘Trichotomy’ in Masoretic Accentuation in Comparison with the Delimitation of Units in the Versions: With Special Attention to the Introduction to Direct Speech; J.W. Olley, Trajectories in Paragraphing of the Book of Ezekiel; P. Sanders, Pausal Forms and the Delimitation of Cola in Biblical Hebrew Poetry; E. Ulrich, Impressions and Intuition: Sense Divisions in Ancient Manuscripts of Isaiah. Other texts treated are Genesis 49, Num 6.22-27, Song 8.1-7, Psalms 113-118.

Harold V. Bennett. 2002. Injustice Made Legal: Deuteronomic Law and the Plight of Widows, Strangers, and Orphans in Ancient Israel. Eerdmans. Using an investigative method based on Critical Legal Studies, B. examines laws in Deuteronomy concerning the widow, stranger, and orphan, texts that B. believes were written by cultic officials in the north during the Omride administration of the ninth century. While they appear to provide for widows, strangers, and orphans, B. argues that the laws legitimized a public-assistance program that guaranteed the material endowment of the officials who promulgated them. His analysis includes an examination of the use of each term (’almana, ger, and yatom) in the Deuteronomic Code, a review of the history of scholarship, and an examination of how each term is used in Ancient Near Eastern literature.

Gérard Gertoux. 2002. The Name of God Y.EH.OW.AH Which is Pronounced as It is Written I_Eh_oU_Ah: Its Story. University Press of America. Translated from the French Un historique du nom divin. Un Nom Encens (L’Harmattan, 1999). G. follows Maimonides’ teaching that that YHWH “is read as it is written,” i.e., yehua, in the same way that yhwdh is vocalized yehuda—applying the (coincidentally correct) Masoretic vowels. G. first considers biblical treatment of “the name”: the power of the name; to know God’s name; Jesus, Satan, the controversy over the name; and “the name read distinctly” (reconstruction of the reading). Part 2 examines the historical record from Adam to the American Standard Version, and the name of Jesus and its connections to the name. There is a seven part appendix that includes “interpretation of the Hebrew names” and “lack of nomina sacra in the earliest Christian papyrus.” G. maintains a website with excerpts at divinename.net.

Steven Grosby. 2002. Biblical Ideas of Nationality: Ancient and Modern. Eisenbrauns. Using a methodology founded on philosophical anthropology, G., a sociologist, examines the ways in which the ancients defined themselves, particularly in terms of kinship, territoriality, and boundaries, and how these relate to concepts of nationality.

Phillip S. Johnston. 2002. Shades of Sheol: Death and the Afterlife in the Old Testament. InterVarsity Press. J. investigates Israelite views of death and the afterlife, the location and nature of Sheol, ancestor worship, and the emergence of belief in resurrection, as reflected in the Hebrew Bible and in material remains, and sets them in their cultural, literary and theological contexts.

Yigal Levin. 2003. “Who Was the Chronicler’s Audience? A Hint from His Genealogies.” Journal of Biblical Literature 122/2:229-245. L. addresses the question of the social and ideological milieu in which the Chronicler operated as indicated by the information that he included in his genealogies, concluding that the Chronicler, as opposed to the Priestly author of Ezra-Nehemiah, is not telling his history from the perspective of the urban elite of Jerusalem. When he lays out the ethnic and geographical framework of his “Israel” in his genealogical introduction, “his perspective is that of the tribal, village society, which was very much alive and functioning in his day. The villagers of the hill country of Judah and Benjamin, but also those of Ephraim and Manasseh, were both the Chronicler’s source of information and his audience.” (245)

Myung Soo Suh. 2003. The Tabernacle in the Narrative History of Israel from the Exodus to the Conquest. Peter Lang. S. argues that the tabernacle served both as a cultic center and as the military headquarters and treasury of Yahweh, ancient Israel’s divine warrior. S. follows the narrative of the tabernacle, from Exod 3, with the despoiling of the Egyptians of precious metals, linen, and livestock—i.e., materials for the tabernacle—to Joshua 22, where the Cisjordanian tribes are sent home with permission to keep the metal spoils of war.

Kjell Hognesius. 2003. The Text of 2 Chronicles 1-16: A Critical Edition with Textual Commentary. Almqvist & Wiksell International. H. offers a critical edition of 2 Chronicles 1-16, with a special emphasis on the parallel sections in 1 Kings. This volume records the text-critical work H. did as part of the Swedish Bible Commission in the preparation of the new Swedish translation (2000). The translation is based on such a text-critical reconstruction throughout and the divergences from the Masoretic text are listed in a 90-page appendix to the translation. H. is now with the Swedish Bible Society.

Jan de Waard. 2003. A Handbook on Jeremiah. Published for the UBS by Eisenbrauns. Like the first volume on Isaiah, this second volume in the UBS series Textual Criticism and the Translator, edited by Harold Scanlin (and in the future by Roger Omanson), makes available textual decisions of HOTTP in a format that is intended to be more immediately accessible to translators.


Jeannine K. Brown. 2002. The Disciples in Narrative Perspective: The Portrayal and Function of the Matthean Disciples. Brill. B. studies the narrative function of the disciples’ frequent misunderstanding of Jesus’ mission and teaching in Matthew, focusing on 16.21-20.28.

Bart D. Ehrman. 2003. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. Oxford University Press. E. discusses the diversity of the early Christian movement of the first three centuries, the battles between “heresies” and “orthodoxy,” the production of forged documents, the question of how some books came to be included in the canon of Scripture, on what grounds, and when. Ehrman’s Lost Scriptures: Books That Did not Make It Into the New Testament (OUP, 2003) provides the texts discussed in Lost Christianities—revered texts that were not included in the canon—grouped as gospels, acts of the apostles, epistles and related writings, and apocalypses and revelatory treatises.

Stan Harstine. 2002. Moses as a Character in the Fourth Gospel: A Study of Ancient Reading Techniques. Sheffield Academic Press. H. analyzes the function of the character of Moses in the text of John, and attempts to answer the question of whether and how an ancient reader would understand that function. He looks at three increasingly broad groups of ancient readers: readers of the Synoptic Gospels, readers of narratives from Second Temple Judaism, and readers of specific Greco-Roman narratives. While the first two groups would have been familiar with the Moses tradition, the similar function of Homer in Greco-Roman narratives would have helped the third in their understanding of the function of Moses in John.

Richard A. Horsley and Neil Asher Silberman. 2002. The Message and the Kingdom: How Jesus and Paul Ignited a Revolution and Transformed the Ancient World. Fortress Press. The authors analyze the ministries of Jesus and Paul within their sociopolitical contexts, showing how their message was shaped by the history of their time and the social conditions of their audiences. A political reform movement begun in Galilee to restore Mosaic values developed into a new and independent Christ-religion due to its critique of the dominant patron-client system.

Iutisone Salevao. 2002. Legitimation in the Letter to the Hebrews: The Construction and Maintenance of a Symbolic Universe. Sheffield Academic Press. Employing sociological models and the concept of legitimation as developed by Berger and Luckmann, S. examines Hebrews in the context of the early Christians’ construction and maintenance of a social world. He elaborates the thesis that Hebrews was designed to serve a legitimating function in the realm of social interaction, that its theology, symbolism and argument were designed to construct and maintain the symbolic universe of the community of the readers.

Eric Sorensen. 2002. Possession and Exorcism in the New Testament and Early Christianity. Mohr-Siebeck. S. investigates possession and exorcism in ancient Mesopotamia and Israel to locate the origins of Christianity’s view of possession, with the goal of determining how Christianity maintained its exorcistic tradition where it conflicted with social convention in the Greco-Roman environment. He shows how demonic and divine possession came to be viewed correlatively with respect to exorcism, and how exorcism retained its relevance within Christianity through cultural adaptation, authoritative tradition, and innovative theological interpretation ­applied to the tradition.

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News & Notes

CBS Kitchener Office has new role

The new official designation for the Canadian Bible Society Kitchener office is The Institute for Computer Assisted Publishing. The institute will assist the Bible translation and Scripture publishing community in three areas: 1) in building a community of support, both virtual and real (virtual community through internet, intranet, web based discussion forum, etc.); 2) in coordinating and facilitating training for CAP providers in the four UBS regions; 3) in facilitating and supporting the development of computer tools for the Bible translation and Scripture publishing community, primarily related to Paratext and publishing software.

Speaking of Paratext... The new release (PT6 SP1) includes 51 English Handbooks in the Paratext Handbooks Resource, 21 OT (adding 5), 27 NT (adding 21), and 3 Deuterocanon (no new additions). An additional four books are in process.

Traducción de la Biblia has new format...

After 10 years of paper publication, the UBS Spanish Bible translation journal Traducción de la Biblia is going entirely electronic. The journal can now be found at the very striking website http://www.traducciondelabiblia.org/. The current issue features an article by Armando Levoratti on the symbolic language of the Bible. All back issues are available there as well. Also, remember that you can find the French Bible translation journal Le Sycomore online at http://www.ubs-translations.org/.

SIL Cognitive Linguistics Workshop

July 12-23, 2004, at Horsleys Green

This workshop aims to enable participants to learn about and apply Professor Ronald W. Langacker’s approach to linguistic analysis, description, and explanation to language data of their own. Professor Langacker will give a series of presentations between 12th and 23rd July 2004.

From July 5-9, Dr. Ivan Lowe will provide an introduction to those who are unfamiliar with Cognitive Linguistics. Following Professor Langacker’s presentations, the staff will provide an additional two week workshop helping participants apply the theory to their own data. Any combination of these three sections can be attended.

From the workshop announcement: “Professor Ronald W. Langacker is the originator and leading exponent of Cognitive Linguistics. Cognitive Linguistics, perhaps the most vital and innovative theory of meaning today, links language with our cognitive faculties, that is to say, with our five senses, our knowledge and reasoning faculties. It is a theory that dedicatedly and insightfully addresses such issues as idioms, figures of speech, metaphor, metonymy, etc. These are exactly the issues in meaning that make our communication vivid and vital. It is a theory that respects culture and context, and it treats all levels from morpheme to discourse. It addresses the creativity of language in use. The theory has been successful in discovering real, insightful meaning even in particles and forms that may have formerly been dismissed as ‘having no meaning at all.’ Work has been carried out using his theoretical framework in many so called exotic languages.”

For registration information see http://www.eurotp.org/UK/Session.asp?SessionID=60

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