TIC Talk 64, 2007

Newsletter of the United Bible Societies Translation Information Clearinghouse

Article: Patristic Exegesis and Bible Translation, by Simon Crisp
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To The Fathers They Shall Go? Patristic Exegesis and Bible Translation

by Simon Crisp

In our work of Bible translation we are used to consulting a wide range of commentaries and other literature in order to ensure that – as far as possible – we have understood the text being translated. But how many of the sources we consult reflect the whole history of interpretation? And in particular, how aware are we of the enormous part played by biblical exegesis in the activity of the Church Fathers? Can Athanasius, Chrysostom and Theodoret really help us with the task of Bible translation?

A New Handbook of Patristic Exegesis

The publication of two massive volumes by Charles Kannengiesser (Handbook of Patristic Exegesis, 2004 [2006]) has put the question of the Fathers’ reading and interpretation of the Bible firmly on the agenda – and over the course of its 1500 pages might even be thought to say everything that needs to be said on this fascinating subject. But what is the relevance of ancient exegesis to the modern Bible translator? In this short survey I shall attempt to show why Bible translators may wish to pay attention to the exegesis of the Fathers, and what resources are available to them in this endeavor.

When we have lifted Kannengiesser’s beautifully produced (and ruinously expensive) volumes down from the shelf, what do we actually get? The answer to this question is perhaps a little surprising. We do not get a convenient and well structured introduction for the neophyte, nor yet a systematic and organized collection of essays which would serve as an orientation to this enormous field of study – instead we have a vast and rambling assortment of surveys, review articles, bibliographies and notes (mostly by Kannengiesser himself, but with a number of “special contributions” by other scholars).

The work divides into two main parts. The second of these (Part B), which occupies the whole of Volume 2 and almost half of Volume 1, is an extensive Historical Survey which goes century by century and author by author through the literature in Greek, Latin and Oriental languages. Navigation over this vast sea of material is provided by detailed contents lists at the beginning of each chapter (the tables of contents at the front of each volume are laconic in the extreme), and by the alphabetical list of authors and anonymous works repeated at the beginning of each volume. The Handbook thus offers fairly encyclopedic coverage of authors and works, with the advantages (convenience and ease of use) and disadvantages (unevenness in both extent and quality of coverage) of the chosen format. If the reader wants to know what one or another Father produced in the area of biblical exegesis, this is as good a place as any to start.

Those engaged in Bible translation, however, who rather would like to see whether patristic exegesis will be of any practical help to them in their task, are more likely (and better advised) to begin with Part A of the Handbook, which occupies a more manageable 350 pages of Volume 1. Here we find the rationale for the handbook project, a survey of the last fifty years of research, interesting essays on the background to patristic exegesis in the work of the rabbis on the one hand (a contribution by Michael A. Signer and Susan L. Graham) and the Greek rhetorical schools on the other, a detailed account (covering 100 pages) of patristic hermeneutics (important above all for its treatment of the key concepts of typology and allegory), and – probably of most direct interest – a survey of patristic sources for each book of the Bible (a 100 page gold mine opened up in another special contribution, this time by David L. Balás and D. Jeffrey Bingham).

Kannengiesser’s Handbook, then, for all its many virtues, is a sea in which it is all too easy to sink – or perhaps a maze in which the unwary reader may quickly become disorientated and overwhelmed. (The situation is not helped by the large number of minor inaccuracies, inconsistencies and typos – the Handbook as a whole simply cries out for the services of a professional editor.) For a more accessible (not to say more affordable) introduction to the field, the interested reader will need to look elsewhere.

Other General Introductions

And indeed there is no shortage of competitors: English-speaking readers have essentially a choice between Manlio Simonetti (1994, translated from the Italian edition of 1981), who offers a good solid introduction to the major issues based on traditional scholarship; Christopher A. Hall (1998), who is particularly approachable from an evangelical Protestant background and serves as an excellent way into the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (more about this series below); and most recently—in my view most successfully—John J. O’Keeffe and R.R. Reno (2005), who give a real sense of the way in which the Fathers saw the text of Scripture as an all-encompassing world with endless connections to be explored, and of what this might mean for modern readers.

For similar French and German works, see the references to Auwers and van Oort / Wickert in the bibliography at the end of this article. Mention should also be made of the French series La Bible de tous les temps, especially the first three volumes (see the references to Mondésert, Fontaine / Pietri and La Bonnardière in the bibliography).

For a flavor of the way in which the Fathers read and interpreted the Scriptures one may turn to the collections of extracts from primary sources edited by Karlfried Froehlich (1984), Michael Fiedrowicz (1999) and D.H. Williams (2006).

Those who are attracted by this approach and are tempted to venture further may wish to go to the seminal works of de Margerie (1993) and de Lubac (1998/2000); for a fresh account of the role and nature of biblical exegesis in the early Christian centuries, a high recommendation should be given to the work of Frances Young (1997, with a brief summary in Young 2004). The series The Bible in Ancient Christianity, of which Kannengiesser’s study is the inaugural work, also includes a number of detailed studies on the exegesis of individual Fathers.

Sources for Detailed Exegesis

Having acquired some general understanding of the way in which the Fathers approached and interpreted the biblical text, the reader may wish to see what material is available for specific books and passages. There are several ways of doing this, depending on the level of detail required. At one extreme, the seven published volumes of Biblia Patristica provide exhaustive listings of the references to specific verses of the Bible in the writings of (so far only) the earlier Fathers. A useful survey of the background to this monumental work may be found in the article by Maraval 1996, while a practical guide to using the Biblia Patristica, in conjunction with other sources, especially electronic ones, for the exegesis of specific passages is offered by Harmon 2003. Biblia Patristica is likely to be too much for any but the most hardy and determined, who may prefer to consult more accessible directories. One convenient jumping-off point would be the section in Kannengiesser’s Handbook on “Patristic Exegesis of the Books of the Bible” referred to above; a more systematic listing is provided in the “Index Biblicus” of the Clavis Patrum Graecorum (vol 5, pp.115-147, with references to the details of editions, etc., given in the preceding volumes); the Latin equivalent Clavis Patrum Latinorum unfortunately does not include such a biblical index.. Other valuable information may be gleaned from two handy volumes by Hermann Josef Sieben: a listing of (mainly) periodical articles ordered by biblical chapter and verse (1983), and a directory of patristic homilies on New Testament passages ordered in the same way (1991) – the latter perhaps especially important given that so much of patristic exegesis was carried out in the context of preaching.

For the Pauline corpus in particular, the survey article by C.H. Turner (1904) has not lost its significance, and the monographs of Alexander Souter (1927) and Maurice Wiles (1967) remain key texts. In an electronic age these must now be supplemented by the very useful series of articles on the “History of Interpretation of the Apostle Paul” posted on the Internet by Peter Head. And if all this is still not enough, the researcher may turn to the listings on patristic exegesis in the relevant sections of Bibliographica Patristica and Elenchus Biblicus.

Part of the difficulty involved in making full use of the vast amount of material available is that the writings of the Fathers on biblical exegesis are scattered in so many different editions, and require mastery of several different languages – primarily of course Greek and Latin, in addition to the various languages employed by the different editors. For the general English-speaking reader, however, there are a number of ways to get a taste of the primary sources; in addition to the two general collections of extracts mentioned above, the homilies of John Chrysostom, for example, are widely available (including in electronic format) in the series Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (First Series, volumes 10-14), the commentary of Theodoret of Cyrus on the Letters of Saint Paul has recently been published in the English translation of Robert Charles Hill, and the same scholar has produced translations of a large number of other patristic commentaries including Theodoret’s commentary on the Song of Songs. Also not to be neglected are those modern commentaries which pay serious attention to the whole tradition of exegesis. Sometimes this is done in the context of an introduction to the commentary proper (a good example of this is Luke Timothy Johnson’s Anchor Bible volume on 1-2 Timothy), on other occasions in monograph-length treatment of individual books (Rowan Greer on Hebrews, Eugen Pentiuc on Hosea).

Perhaps the clearest sign of the growing interest in patristic exegesis on the part of biblical scholars and a wider audience of Bible readers is the publication in English of two multi-volume series of commentaries on Bible books which take up the ancient catena tradition of extracts from illustrious authors. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (ACCS) under the general editorship of Thomas C. Oden is now almost complete for the New Testament, and publication of the Old Testament volumes is well advanced with some 30 books now covered. The Church’s Bible (TCB) under the general editorship of Robert Wilken has begun publication more recently and is progressing more slowly: to date substantial volumes have appeared on the Song of Songs (2003), 1 Corinthians (2004), and Isaiah (2007).

Outside the English-speaking world, mention should be made of the Novum Testamentum Patristicum project based at the University of Regensburg, which envisages a full series of monograph-length patristic commentaries on the New Testament (see http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/Theologie/alte-kg/html/ntp.html); and of the multi-volume digest of commentary by the Fathers on virtually every verse of the New Testament (and some books of the Old Testament) edited in Greek by Panagiotes Trempelas.

Some Test Cases

Now that we have some indication of the vast amount of material available for those wishing either to dip a toe or to plunge more deeply into the sea of patristic exegesis, we should once again consider the question: what is the practical use of all this for those engaged in the making and checking of Bible translations? Such practical use will of course be at the level of analysis, of establishing the meaning of the text – one of the essential prerequisites for any kind of faithful translation. The fracturing of the historical-critical paradigm, however, has led (among other things) to a decrease in certainty about the recovery of such meaning – and to an increased openness to the use of a wide range of approaches in analyzing texts. It is probably in this context that the recent dramatic rise of interest in the exegesis of the Church Fathers should be seen: and the best way to gauge the usefulness of this for Bible translation is perhaps to look in more detail at the two recent compilation series referred to above. The most extensive material for comparison is provided by 1 Corinthians, which is well represented in the ACCS volume on 1-2 Corinthians (1999) and by the TCB monograph (2004).

A quick survey of the footnotes to 1 Corinthians in the Good News Translation yields a total of seven cases (four in Chapter 7 alone) where there is a significant exegetical point at issue. Do the sources referred to, and especially the two English-language compilations of patristic commentary, offer us any insights as to how the text should best be understood (and therefore translated)? Let us briefly consider each of these four places in Chapter 7.

In 7:1 the matter at issue is whether the words καλὸν ἀνθρώπῳ γυναικὸς μὴ ἅπτεσθαι are Paul’s own, or are quoted from a letter sent by the Corinthians. The UBS Handbook (TH) is strongly in favor of the latter interpretation (as is the SIL Exegetical Summary volume (ES), by a head count of 18 to 7 among the sources it lists). Gordon Fee (NICNT) also prefers this interpretation and dates it back to Origen, while Anthony Thiselton (NIGTC) points out the “increasing consensus” around this view. It is disappointing then that ACCS does not address the question at all in the three very brief extracts given for this verse. TCB offers five much more substantial extracts for the passage 7:1-7 (Clement, Origen, John Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine); these give a useful picture of the general context for patristic interpretation of the passage (exaltation of the ascetic ideal of celibacy, while yet defending the dignity of marriage), and the clear tendency (explicit in the case of Chrysostom and Jerome) to understand the words quoted above as Paul’s response to the Corinthians. The argument of the Fathers then is that the general thrust of the passage (Paul’s recommendation of celibacy) makes the first interpretation more likely: a translator today, however, may be less convinced by this argument than by the other criteria given in modern commentaries.

In 7:16 the exegesis turns on whether the expectation is positive (“how can you be sure that you will not save your husband/wife?”) or negative (“how do you know that you will save..?”). TH offers a judicious survey of the options (and the sources listed in ES are split almost exactly evenly, at 11 for the “optimistic” to 12 for the “pessimistic” interpretation). Unfortunately, both ACCS and TCB are silent on the matter, so we must look elsewhere for the views of the Fathers. TH offers an indirect testimony (Greek patristic support for the optimistic interpretation according to Barrett’s commentary), but a much more detailed treatment is given by Thiselton (NIGTC), who shows how opinions have changed through the history of interpretation: optimistic in Tertullian, Augustine, Theodoret, Photius and Theophylact, pessimistic from Nicholas of Lyra onwards, both views held in the modern period. The opinion of the Greek Fathers will surely be one consideration in the decision reached by a translator on how to render this verse, but it will not be the only one (and in any case, neither ACCS nor TCB give access to this information).

In 7:21 the lack of any explicit object for μᾶλλον χρῆσαι has led to a well-known difficulty of interpretation: should the slave make use of the opportunity to gain freedom, or to remain a slave? The matter has been exhaustively debated (and was even the subject of a full monographic treatment in 1973); the general trend in modern exegesis is slightly in favor of the “freedom” interpretation (10 to 6 of the translations cited in TH, 14 to 11 of the sources listed in ES), while the Fathers tend more to the “slavery” interpretation. In this case we do have data from both ACCS and TCB: in the former case a quotation from Theodoret of Cyr (“Paul is saying that no slave should run way, using religion as an excuse”), and in the latter a lengthy and interesting extract from John Chrysostom, who explicitly rejected the “freedom” interpretation as contrary to Paul’s usual approach, although he was well aware of others holding the opposite view. Thiselton once again gives us a more comprehensive picture, pointing out that the Fathers are virtually unanimous in preferring the “slavery” interpretation (though with the weighty exceptions of Origen and Jerome), and noting how sociological factors (the exegete’s attitude to the institution of slavery) tend to influence interpretation. This is certainly a point which any translator will want to take into account; and while modern commentaries may provide a firmer basis for decision, it is useful to have access to some of the primary material from the patristic period in ACCS and TCB (particularly the latter).

Finally we come in 7:36 to what is probably the most famous crux interpretum in 1 Corinthians. There are several exegetical difficulties in this verse, but the one I shall focus on here is the choice between (unmarried) daughter and fiancée as the referent of  παρθένος. Certainly the traditional view is that Paul is concerned with the conditions under which a man should marry off his virgin daughter; this is clear from the extract from Theodoret given in TCB (ACCS unfortunately offers nothing on the issue), and once again more widely in the discussion of Thiselton, who notes that this view is predominant but not unanimous among the Fathers. Fee may be taken as representative of modern commentators in his emphatic preference for understanding the reference as being to an engaged couple, and this is the preferred exegesis also of TH, which discusses four possibilities in some detail before stating in rather restrained fashion that “translators .. will not be wrong in choosing” the recommended interpretation. (ES, at least for the sources it lists, shows that the matter is not so clear cut, giving a ratio of 11 for fiancée to 12 for daughter.) In fact there are a number of criteria which translators will want to take into account here: what makes most sense in the immediate context (essentially the argument of TH and Fee); the tradition of interpretation (usefully outlined by Thiselton, with a nice example from a primary source in TCB); and also – as in the case of verse 21 – the possibility that interpretation may be controlled by cultural presuppositions (in this case those surrounding whether a woman can/should be given/taken in marriage, and by whom). At the very least, awareness of the patristic tradition of interpretation should enable modern translators to look with more critical awareness at their own presuppositions.

There can be little doubt that pre-modern exegesis such as we find in the Church Fathers has some clear resonances with the post-modern era (see for example Jones 1999), and that the writings of the Fathers provide some solid basis for understanding traditional interpretations which are sometimes (too quickly?) dismissed by modern commentators. At the same time we have to reckon with the fact that the Fathers lived in a world very different from our own, and that they had concerns quite different from those which preoccupy us as Bible translators – in particular, the separation of exegesis from theology which is so characteristic of our approach to the text today would have been unthinkable for the patristic writers, who were utterly immersed in the world of the biblical text as a self-contained universe of discourse.

With regard to the more easily accessible compilations of patristic exegesis, it must be admitted that the sample material we have looked at from 1 Corinthians yields a disappointing harvest. This, however, may be due largely to the editorial principles of selection followed in the various series, which focus on theological and devotional matters rather than exegetical or grammatical ones. The Fathers undoubtedly have important and interesting things to say about textual, grammatical and exegetical issues, but there is no short cut to finding this information – it can only be obtained by detailed work with the kind of sources discussed earlier in this paper. But even those Bible translators who do not need (or wish) to engage in such detail with the writings of another age will profit from the light shed on the text by the more accessible introductory works and anthologies listed.


Auwers, Jean-Marie. La Lettre et l’Esprit: Les Pères de l’Église, lecteurs de la Bible. Bruxelles: Lumen Vitae, 2002.

Biblia Patristica: Index des citations et allusions bibliques dans la littérature patristique (seven volumes and Supplement). Paris: CNRS Editions, 1975-2000.

Bibliographica Patristica: Internationale Patristische Bibliographie. Volumes 1-35 for 1956-1990. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1959-1997.

Brent, Allen. “Patristic Interpretation,” in Stanley E. Porter (ed.), Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation (London: Routledge, 2007).

Cambridge History of the Bible (Volume 1, Section 5 – “The Bible in the Early Church”).

Clavis Patrum Graecorum (five volumes and Supplement). Turnhout: Brepols, 1974-1998.

Clavis Patrum Latinorum (third edition). Turnhout: Brepols, 1995.

Dunn, James D.G. et al. (eds.). Auslegung der Bibel in orthodoxer und westliche Perspektive (WUNT 130). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000.

Elenchus Bibliographicus Biblicus. Vols 1-48 published as part of Biblica, 1920-1967; vols 49-65 published independently as Elenchus Bibliographicus Biblicus, 1968-1978; again as part of Biblica: Elenchus Bibliographicus Biblicus of Biblica, 1979-1984; and Elenchus of Biblica 1985‑.

Fiedrowicz, Michael. Prinzipien der Schriftauslegung in der Alten Kirche (Traditio Christiana, 10). Bern / New York: Peter Lang, 1998.

Fontaine, Jacques and Charles Pietri (eds.). Le Monde latin antique et la Bible (La Bible de tous les temps, 2). Paris: Beauchesne, 1985.

Froehlich, Karlfried (trans./ed.). Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.

Greer, Rowan A. The Captain of Our Salvation: A Study in the Patristic Exegesis of Hebrews (Beiträge zur Geschichte der biblischen Exegese 15). Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1973.

Hall, Christopher A. Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998.

Harl, Marguerite. “L’usage des commentaires patristiques pour l’étude de la Septante,” Revue des Sciences Religieuses 73/2 (1999), 184-201.

Harmon, Steven R. “A Note on the Critical Use of Instrumenta for the Retrieval of Patristic Biblical Exegesis,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 11/1 (2003), 95-107.

Head, Peter M. The History of the Interpretation of  the Apostle Paul. www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/staff/Head/Lectures.htm, accessed 19 October 2007.

Hill, Robert Charles (trans.). Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul (two volumes). Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001.

Hill, Robert Charles (trans.). Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Song of Songs. Brisbane: Australian Catholic University, 2001.

Jones, James W. “Back to the Future: Postmodern and Patristic Reading of Scripture,” Epworth Review 26/4 (1999), 43-51.

Kannengiesser, Charles. Handbook of Patristic Exegesis (The Bible in Ancient Christianity 1). Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2004. (Unabridged one-volume edition 2006.)

La Bonnardière, Anne-Marie (ed.). Saint Augustin et la Bible (La Bible de tous les temps, 3). Paris: Beauchesne, 1986.

de Lubac, Henri. Medieval Exegesis: The Four Senses of Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans / Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1998-2000. (ET of first part of Exegèse mediévale: les quatre sens de l’Écriture [four volumes]. Paris: Aubier, 1959-1964.)

Maraval, Pierre. “Le Centre d’Analyse et de Documentation Patristiques: histoire et bilan de trente ans d’existence,” Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses 76/2 (1996), 211-221.

de Margerie, Bertrand. An Introduction to the History of Exegesis. Volume 1: The Greek Fathers. Petersham, Mass.: St Bede’s Publications, 1993. (ET of first part of Introduction à l’histoire de l’exégèse [three volumes]. Paris: Cerf, 1980-1990.)

Mondésert, Claude (ed.). Le Monde grec ancien et la Bible (La Bible de tous les temps, 1). Paris: Beauchesne, 1984.

Oden, Thomas C. (gen. ed.). Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1998-. Volumes published to date are: Genesis (Andrew Louth, 2001; Mark Sheridan, 2002), Exodus-Deuteronomy (Joseph Lienhard, 2001), Joshua-2 Samuel (John Franke, 2005), Job (Manlio Simonetti and Marco Conti, 2006), Proverbs-Song of Songs (J. Robert Wright, 2005), Isaiah 1-39 (Steven McKinion, 2003), Isaiah 40-66 (Mark Elliott, 2007), Twelve Prophets (Alberto Ferreiro, 2003); Matthew (Manlio Simonetti, 2001-2), Mark (Thomas Oden and Christopher Hall, 1998), Luke (Arthur Just, 2003), John (Joel Elowsky, 2007), Acts (Francis Martin, 2006), Romans (Gerald Bray, 1998), 1-2 Corinthians (Gerald Bray, 1999), Galatians-Philippians (Mark Edwards, 1999), Colossians-Philemon (Peter Gorday, 2000), Hebrews (Erik Heen and Philip Krey, 2005), James-Jude (Gerald Bray, 2000), Revelation (William Weinrich, 2005). (The volumes for Genesis, Exodus-Deuteronomy, 12 Prophets; Matthew, Mark, Luke, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians-Philippians and Colossians-Philemon are also available on CD-ROM [Libronix format] from the same publisher.)

O’Keeffe, John J. and R.R. Reno. Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible. Baltimore; London: Johns Hopkins UP, 2005.

Pentiuc, Eugen J. Long-Suffering Love: A Commentary on Hosea with Patristic Annotations. Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2002.

Sieben, Hermann Josef. Exegesis Patrum: saggio bibliografico sull’esegesi biblica dei Padri della Chiesa. Rome: Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum, 1983.

Sieben, Hermann Josef. Kirchenväterhomilien zum Neuen Testament. Ein Repertorium der Textausgaben und Übersetzungen (Instrumenta Patristica, 22). Steenbrugge: in Abbatia S. Petri, 1991.

Simonetti, Manlio. Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994. (ET of Profilo Istorico dell’Esegesi Patristica. Rome, 1981.)

Souter, Alexander. The Earliest Latin Commentaries on the Epistles of St Paul. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927.

Trempelas, Panagiotes N. Hupomnema eis ten Kainen Diatheken. 8 volumes. Athens: Ho Soter, 1951-1956 (and several reprintings).

Turner, C.H. “Greek Patristic Commentaries on the Pauline Epistles.” Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, Extra Volume (Edinburgh, 1904), 484-531.

Van Oort, J. and U. Wickert (eds.). Christliche Exegese zwischen Nicaea und Chalcedon. Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1992.

Wiles, Maurice F. The Divine Apostle: The Interpretation of St Paul’s Epistles in the Early Church. Cambridge: University Press, 1967.

Wilken, Robert Louis (gen. ed.). The Church’s Bible. Grand Rapids; Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2004-. Volumes published to date are: Song of Songs (Richard A. Norris, Jr., 2004), 1 Corinthians (Judith L. Kovacs, 2005), Isaiah (Robert L. Wilken, 2007).

Williams, D.H. (ed.). Tradition, Scripture and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2006.

Young, Frances. Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture. Cambridge: University Press, 1997. (Reprinted Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2002.)

Young, Frances. “The Interpretation of Scripture,” in G.R. Evans (ed.), The First Christian Theologians (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 24-38.

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Publication Notices

Bible Translation

Bible Society related publications

A History of Bible Translation. 2007. P.A. Noss, ed. Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura. This volume offers a history of Bible translation from its origins to the present day through an interdisciplinary approach, addressing the issue from theological, linguistic, and cultural, as well as methodological, points of view. The book is the first in a new American Bible Society series of monographs and reference books on the history of Bible translation. Contents:
Foreword by Robert Hodgson
A History of Bible Translation: Introduction and Overview, Philip A. Noss
Section I: History: The Septuagint to the Vernaculars
Introduction, Manuel Jinbachian
The First Versions: The Septuagint, the Targums, and the Latin, David G. Burke
Secondary Versions: Arabic to Old Slavonic, Erroll Rhodes
From Martin Luther to the Revised English Version, Paul Ellingworth
Bible Translation in Africa, Aloo Osotsi Mojola
Bible Translation in Asia-Pacific and the Americas, Daud Soesilo
Section II: Epistemology and Theory
Introduction, Stefano Arduini
On the Historical Epistemologies of Bible Translating, Anthony Pym
Framing Nida: The Relevance of Translation Theory in the United Bible Societies, Stephen Pattemore
Section III: Methodology of Bible Translation
Introduction, Lourens de Vries
Translation Techniques in the Ancient Bible Translations: Septuagint and Targum, Harry Sysling
Translation Techniques in Modern Bible Translation, Paul Ellingworth
Section IV: Bible Translation: The Field Today
Introduction, Lynell Zogbo
Bible Translation in Africa: A Post-Missionary Approach, Dieudonné Prosper Aroga Bessong and Michel Kenmogne
Word of God, Word of the People: Translating the Bible in Post-Missionary Times, Edesio Sánchez-Cetina

Cultural Readings of the Bible in Africa: Quand l'Afrique s'approprie la Bible! 2007. André Kabasele Mukeng, Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole, and Dieudonné P. Aroga Bessong, eds. Editions Clé. The eight articles in this book are organized into three sections: Cultural exegesis of the Bible, Translation Studies, and Bible and Media Culture. Contents:

  • Lectures africaines de la Bible à l’aube du troisième millénaire, André Kabasele Mukenge
  • Mark 14:62 and African Christologies, Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole
  • Mythos and Wisdom in Genesis 3:1-24: A Tautegorical Approach, Édouard Kitoko Nsiku
  • Translating Bibles: Some Recurring Questions, Timothy Wilt
  • A Tripolar Approach to Bible Translation, Dieudonné Aroga Bessong
  • Influence de la traduction sur l’interprétation de la Bible, Josée Ngalula Tshianda
  • La parole de Dieu, les médias et l’avènement de l’Église-Famille, Matthieu Kangombe Betu-Bonso
  • Culture médiatique et Parole biblique en Afrique, Ferdinand Banga Jalum'weci

Robert Hodgson. 2007. “Semiotics and Bible Translation.” Semiotica 163-1/4:163-185. H. sets out some of the foundational elements of Peircean semiotics in its application to Bible translation, including new media Bible translation. The work of translation scholars such as Dinda L. Gorlée and Ubaldo Stecconi identifies conceptual and practical applications of semiotics to translation research, training, evaluation, and production. In particular, the insights of semiotics into the process of sign production and meaning making can serve as a valuable resource for translation.

Descubre la Biblia. 2007. Sociedades Bíblicas Unidas. The second edition of Descubre la Biblia, edited by Edesio Sánchez (UBS Americas), is a significant expansion from the one volume of the first edition to three: Volume 1 offers an overview of the Bible and its impact on the life of individuals and communities. Volume 2 has articles on the formation of the Biblical text and the canon of Scriptures; the history, geography and culture of the Biblical world and the contributions of archeology, cultural anthropology, history, and sociology; and biblical interpretation and exegesis. Volume 3 covers principles and problems of translation of the Old and New Testaments; the contributions of linguistics, translation studies and anthropology; and translations and versions of the Bible in Spanish and other languages.

From a joint project of BFBS and Cardiff University on the pastoral use of the Bible:

  • Paul Ballard and Stephen R Holmes. 2005. The Bible in Pastoral Practice. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.
  • Stephen Pattison, Margaret Cooling, and Trevor Cooling. 2007. Using the Bible in Christian Ministry: A Workbook. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.
  • Gordon Oliver. 2006. Holy Bible, Human Bible: Questions Pastoral Practice Must Ask. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.

Among papers presented in a symposium held in Bogota in 2005 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Dei Verbum, and published in La Palabra Hoy XXX, No. 117 (2005):

  • Elsa Tamez, “Lectura bíblica en las Iglesias Protestantes,” 16-29.
  • Bill Mitchell. “La Biblia y los medios de comunicación social,” 50-58.

In Fórum de Ciências Bíblicas 2 (2007), papers presented at the Bible Society of Brazil’s annual Biblical Studies symposium (2006) held in the amphitheatre of their Bible Museum:

  • Bill Mitchell. “Por um novo Pentecostes: A tradução da Bíblia no novo milênio,” 13-22.
  • Herculano Alves. “João Ferreira D’Almeida, tradutor da Biblia,” 23-52.
  • Norval Oliveira da Silva. “O desafio da tradução da Bíblia para povos indígenas,” 65-74.
  • Vilson Scholz. “O desafio da tradução para o português hoje,” 75-92.
  • Esequias Soares. “A tradução da Bíblia e a obra missionária,” 7-12.
  • Archibald M. Woodruff. “Estudo de caso: Marcos 1.1-15 em várias Bíblias brasileiras,” 53-64.

Dudley Levistone Cooney. 2006. Sharing the Word: A History of the Bible Society in Ireland. Columba Press. Writing for the society’s bicentenary, C. traces Bible Society history from the Dublin Bible Society, est. 1806, through the Hibernian Bible Society and its auxiliaries, to the present-day National Bible Society of Ireland.

New titles in the Handbook and UBS Monograph series, respectively: A Handbook on The Shorter Books of the Deuterocanon, by Roger A. Bullard and Howard A. Hatton; and Structure and Orality in 1 Peter: A Guide for Translators, by Kenneth J. Thomas and Margaret Orr Thomas.


In Septuagint Research: Issues and Challenges in the Study of the Greek Jewish Scriptures (W. Kraus and R.G. Wooden, eds. Brill, 2006), some essays on translation: “Translation as Scripture: The Septuagint in Aristeas and Philo,” Benjamin G. Wright III; “Contemporary translations of the Septuagint: problems and perspectives,” Wolfgang Kraus; “The hermeneutics of translation in the Septuagint of Genesis,” Robert J.V. Hiebert.

Theo van der Louw. 2007. Transformations in the Septuagint: Towards an Interaction of Septuagint Studies and Translation Studies. Peeters. This dissertation explores approaches in Translation Studies that are suited to LXX research. Translational transformations or shifts in Genesis, Isaiah, and Proverbs are analyzed, and their motivations determined in a comparison with the literal alternative rejected by the translator. Such translational shifts need to be identified before ascribing “deviations” to the translator’s ideology or to a variant in the Hebrew parent text.


Stefanie Lepre. 2006. Leserlenkung in der Bibel: Die Informationsgliederung in poetischen hebräischen Bibeltexten und ihren deutschen Übersetzungen. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. (Arbeiten zur Geschichte und Wirkung der Bibel, 7) In this Tübingen dissertation L. seeks to show how information structuring helps the reader recognize what is important in the text, and to discover connections. Understanding the information structuring in Hebrew poetry can contribute to translations that guide the reader in the same way.

Geraldo Luiz de Carvalho Neto. 2005. “Haroldo de Campos e Martin Buber como tradutores bíblicos: semelhanças e diferenças em suas agendas analisadas à luz da teoria da relevância.” Cadernos de Tradução 16/2. The article compares two  translations of Qohelet, one Portuguese, by Haroldo de Campos, the other, Buber’s German translation. The analysis is based on the principles of relevance theory in its application to translation studies, with attention to communicative clues, cognitive environment, and conceptually and procedurally encoded information. Campos and Buber both aspired to a Hebraization of their respective translations. The author investigates the translators’ agendas and their influence on the target texts. PDF available here.

Alan Cadwallader. 2007. “The Politics of Translation of the Revised Version: Evidence from the Newly Discovered Notebooks of Brooke Foss Westcott.” Journal of Theological Studies 58:415-439. Westcott’s notebooks give a detailed account of the textual and translational arguments over almost every verse of Matthew from the English revision of the Authorized Version begun in 1870, a revision that set off one of the most politicized debates in the history of Bible translation.

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The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Abingdon). The first two volumes of the NIDB have been published (Vol. 1, A-C, 2006, and Vol. 2, D-H, 2007). NIDB website.

The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture. 2006. J. Sawyer, ed. Blackwell. 30 articles explore the impact of the Bible in ancient, medieval, and modern times, with discussions of how the Bible has influenced literature, art, music, history, religious studies, politics, ecology and sociology. 7 essays on different historical periods, 7 on areas of the world, 8 on the arts, and 8 on various modern –isms, from Contextuality by Gerald West to Postmodernism by Andrew Tate. Review by D. Clanton in RBL.

Gerd Theissen. 2007. The Bible and Contemporary Culture. Fortress. David Green, translator. T. addresses questions of the Bible’s relevance in a postmodern, pluralistic society. He describes the core themes and value of the biblical legacy and the contributions the Bible can make to interreligious and secular conversation.

Jean-Noël Aletti, Maurice Gilbert, Jean Louis Ska, and Sylvie de Vulpillières. 2005. Vocabulaire raisonné de l’exégèse biblique : les mots, les approches, les auteurs. This book explains the terminology of biblical exegesis. Part One is devoted to the books of the Bible, their transmission, the Scriptural canon, languages, versions, manuscripts. Part Two deals with the development of modern exegesis. Part Three presents the vocabulary of narrative, rhetorical, and epistolary analysis. Hebrew, Greek, English, and German words are listed in this final part, as well as some of the “great names” in exegesis.

Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley. 2006. The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World. Carta. This atlas, with over 600 maps and illustrations, traces the course of Near Eastern history from the Chalcolithic Age to the defeat of Bar Kochba’s fighters. Included are all historical and biblical episodes that can be depicted on a map. Extensive interpretive texts accompany the maps, with finds, tools, artifacts, inscriptions and other documents from each period. Documents are presented in their original languages and transcribed or translated into English. An abridged (and cheaper) version has just been released: Carta’s New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible (2007). Review by O. Borowski in RBL.

Anthony Grafton and Megan Williams. 2007. Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen, Eusebius, and the Library of Caesarea. Harvard University Press. The authors reconstruct the kinds of books and ways of organizing scholarly inquiry among the Christians of Caesarea, exploring the relationship between intellectual history and the history of the book. They look at the social, religious, intellectual, and institutional contexts within which Origen and Eusebius worked, as well as their scholarly practices. Origen and Eusebius both produced new kinds of books in which parallel columns made possible critical comparisons between biblical texts. Eusebius went farther, creating new research tools and a new kind of library to support research and book production.

Michael C. McCarthy. 2007. “‘We Are Your Books’: Augustine, the Bible, and the Practice of Authority.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75/2:324-32. Augustine’s posthumous authority based on his writing is much more far-reaching than his authority as a preacher and bishop among his contemporaries—written and spoken words generate distinct patterns of authority. In Augustine’s practice of exegesis and preaching, the authority of scripture also functions variously within a range of written and verbal registers. An examination of how authority operates in Augustine’s work supports notions that late fourth, early fifth century episcopal power was quite restricted; the nature of religious power is constituted by multidirectional social and symbolic relations; and divine revelation lies not solely in the biblical text but also in communicative processes.

Louise J. Lawrence. 2007. “Being ‘Hefted’: Reflections on Place, Stories and Contextual Bible Study.” The Expository Times 118/11:530-535. A “place” is somewhere involving a shared history, narrative, and embodied interaction. A “non-place” is bereft of such relationships. L. proposes that a key “place-making” activity for communities is Contextual Bible Study and the sharing of stories. An example drawn from a pilot study in a Devon rural village serves to illustrate the method and explore the hypothesis.


Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Volume 15, Šakar - Taršîš. 2006. H. Ringgren, G. J. Botterweck, and H.-J. Fabry, eds. Eerdmans. D. Green, translator. At long last, the English translation of TDOT is complete (except for Aramaic) with this volume. Some of the articles within this range: šalôm (“peace”), šem (“name”), šamayim (“heaven”), šema‘ (“hear”), šemeš (“sun”), šapat (“judge”), tôrâ (“instruction, teaching”). Review by W.B. Barrick in RBL.

Karel van der Toorn. 2007. Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible. Harvard University Press. T. details the methods, assumptions, and material means of production that gave rise to biblical texts, with a focus on  Deuteronomy and Jeremiah. His account of scribal culture of the Second Temple period views scribes as the literate elite who held the key to the production and transmission of texts—the individual books of the Bible and the authors associated with them were products of the social and intellectual world of the scribes.

Terje Stordalen. 2007. “The Canonization of Ancient Hebrew and Confucian Literature.” JSOT 32/1:3-22. S. argues that these two literatures occurred under comparable technological and cultural conditions. Using implications from Confucian canonization, he evaluates certain models in Davies’ Scribes and Schools, in particular the view of a “top-down” canonizing process. The Confucian material hints that Hebrew canonization may have had more of a two-way movement of influence.

Rabbi Yonatan Kolatch. 2006. Masters of the Word: Traditional Jewish Bible Commentary from the First Through the Tenth Centuries. Ktav. K. analyzes the methodology and style of each commentator against the backdrop of his time and place, considering the commentator’s approach and attitude towards the oral law and rabbinic tradition and what kinds of textual problems are treated.

Jonathan Lawrence. 2006. Washing in Water: Trajectories of Ritual Bathing in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Literature. Brill; SBL. L. traces the development of bathing for ritual purification, based on archeological evidence and textual evidence from the Hebrew Bible, Second Temple-period literature, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He shows that the earliest Christians drew on a tradition shared with the Qumran community and other Jewish groups of the time, in which each group chose its own emphasis—ritual, metaphorical, or initiatory. Review by J. Watts in RBL.

Alfred Marx. 2005. Les Systèmes sacrificiels de l’Ancien Testament: formes et fonctions du culte sacrificiel à Yhwh. Brill. M. attempts to decode the sacrificial system of ancient Israel, to understand how the different kinds of sacrifice are related, the choice of the sacrificial materials, and the shape of the ritual. He compares the isolated data and the systems of P, the Chronicler and Ezekiel, stressing the specificity of each system, and pointing out the distinctive features of Israel’s sacrificial cult.

Michael Seleznev. 2006. “The Origin of the Tribal Boundaries in Joshua: Administrative Documents or Sacral Geography?” In Babel & Bibel 2: Memoriae Igor M. Diakonoff. L. Kogan, ed. Eisenbrauns.

Andrea L. Weiss. 2006. Figurative Language in Biblical Prose Narrative: Metaphor in the Book of Samuel. Brill. W. applies linguistic approaches to the book of Samuel in order to investigate the defining features of metaphor and the way metaphor and other forms of figurative language operate in biblical narrative. The metaphors in 2 Samuel 16:16-17:14 are compared with other tropes, primarily metonymy and simile, and the notion of “dead” metaphors is challenged with regard to the figurative language in 1 Samuel 24.

Andy L. Warren-Rothlin. 2005. “Body Idioms and the Psalms,” in Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and Approaches, P. Johnston, D.G. Firth, eds., 195-212. InterVarsity Press; Apollos.


Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament. 2006. S. Porter, ed. Eerdmans. Essays by ten scholars lay out issues about textual versions, allusions, and the differences between ancient and modern meaning, and investigate the use of the OT in the NT. The papers are from a 2003 colloquium at McMaster College, Ontario.

“New Testament Interpretations in Africa.” 2007. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 30/1. Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole is coeditor with Nicholas Taylor of this thematic issue made up entirely of contributions from African scholars. Articles include Loba-Mkole’s “The New Testament and Intercultural Exegesis in Africa,” a review of the rise and development of intercultural exegesis in Africa. Two former UBS translation consultants also contributed articles: John David Ekem, “A Dialogical Exegesis of Romans 3.25a,” and Gosnell Yorke, “Hearing the Politics of Peace in Ephesians: A Proposal from an African Postcolonial Perspective.”

Gerald Bonney. 2005. “May Bible Scholars and Fathers Never Meet? A Proposal for Use in Teaching.” Salesianum 67/2:255-297. B. compares the historical-critical approach to Luke 9:28-36 with patristic exegesis, and suggests ways of coordinating the two in teaching.

Timothy Clark. 2007. “Recent Eastern Orthodox Interpretation of the New Testament.” Currents in Biblical Research 5/3:322-340. C. concentrates primarily on developments in NT interpretation among Orthodox biblical scholars in North America over the last three decades, focusing on the contributions of the generation of researchers responsible for the first significant expansion of Orthodox biblical study into modern academia.

David Dungan. 2007. Constantine’s Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament. Fortress. D. re-examines Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History in the light of Hellenistic political thought. He maintains that the legal imposition of a “canon” or “rule” upon scripture was a fourth- and fifth-century phenomenon enforced with the power of the Roman imperial government; that the forces shaping the NT canon were operating long before the 2nd-century crisis occasioned by Marcion, and that they were political forces, including the Greek polis model of democracy, Greek historiography and the development of libraries. D. discusses the process of scripture selection, book-by-book, examining Eusebius’s criteria for inclusion/exclusion. He ends by considering Constantine’s contribution to the canon debate in his support of Eusebius.

Serge Ruzer. 2007. Mapping the New Testament: Early Christian Writings as a Witness for Jewish Biblical Exegesis. Brill. R. discusses links between the interpretation of scripture in Second Temple Jewish circles and patterns of NT use of scripture. He attempts a “mapping” of NT evidence as an early witness to trends attested in fully developed form in rabbinic literature.

Oral Performance, Popular Tradition, and Hidden Transcripts in Q. 2006. R.A. Horsley, ed. Brill; SBL  (Semeia Studies 60). This collection of essays examines Matthew and Luke (Q) from the point of view that the sayings of Jesus recorded there were a series of oral performances. It also seeks to understand the social and historical context of Q in terms of the division between elite and popular culture, with reference to the work of James C. Scott.

Andrew Gregory. 2007. “Jewish-Christian Gospels.” The Expository Times 118/11:521-529. G. offers a brief introduction to quotations in certain Church Fathers that are usually identified as Jewish-Christian gospel tradition. He discusses a selection of the quotations, and addresses the question of how the texts might be witnesses to Jesus, and their relationship to the canonical gospels.

Lars Kierspel. 2006. The Jews and the World in the Fourth Gospel: Parallelism, Function, and Context. Mohr Siebeck. K. attempts to demonstrate that the Gospel’s narrative focus lies not on “the Jews,” mostly used by the narrator, but on the parallel term “the world” which is mostly used by Jesus, the main protagonist. Statements such as “the world hates me (Jesus),” “the world hates you (the disciples),” and “the world has hated them (the disciples)” reflect a conflict of the early church with an opponent that is not limited to the synagogue. Review by A. Reinhartz in RBL.

Elsa Tamez. 2007. Struggles for Power in Early Christianity: A Study of the First Letter to Timothy. Orbis Books. T. seeks to reconstruct the situation behind the text of 1 Timothy, analyzing power struggles in the primitive church in relation to social position, gender roles, theological pluralism, and authority in the church. The book is a translation by Gloria Kinsler of Luchas de poder en los orígenes del cristianismo: un estudio de la primera carta a Timoteo (Editorial Departamento Ecuménico de Investigaciones [DEI], 2004).

Mark Dubis. 2006. “Research on 1 Peter: A Survey of Scholarly Literature Since 1985.” Currents in Biblical Research 4/2:199-239. This article surveys the scholarly literature on 1 Peter that has appeared since 1985, providing a comprehensive bibliography. Topics of discussion include authorship, date and historical setting, recipients and provenance, unity, genre, structure, sources, nature of the ethic (whether conformist or nonconformist), controlling metaphor, social-scientific analyses, and theology.

Textual criticism

David Parker. 2007. “Textual Criticism and Theology.” The Expository Times 118/12:583-589. P. explores the importance of reuniting textual criticism and theology with reference to the concept of the original text, theologically motivated textual variation, concepts of orthodoxy, and the texts as historical documents.

Desmond Schmidt. 2006. “Graphical Editor for Manuscripts.” Literary and Linguistic Computing 21:341-351. S. develops a new data structure for variants, suitable for a wide range of texts, which also solves problems associated with the representation of variant data. A prototype applet that can graphically display the new data structure is described, as well as the current state of the editor being developed from it.

Séamus O’Connell. 2006. From Most Ancient Sources: The Nature and Text-Critical Use of the Greek Old Testament Text of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. Academic/Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. This study of the editing of the Greek OT column of the Polyglot shows the strong variation in the nature of the text due to multiple editors working fairly independently, and the difficulties inherent in the text-critical use of such an eclectic text. Review by A. Aejmalaeus in RBL.

The Gospel According to John in the Byzantine Tradition
Edited by Roderic L. Mullen with Simon Crisp and D.C. Parker (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2007). This text-critical edition of the Gospel of John illustrates the breadth of the Byzantine textual tradition. A specific Byzantine manuscript (minuscule 35) was used as the base text. The apparatus indicates the differences within the most important Byzantine manuscripts of John. In addition, differences compared to the Nestle-Aland edition are listed. The text and apparatus can also be searched online here.

Jan Krans. 2006. Beyond What Is Written: Erasmus and Beza as Conjectural Critics of the New Testament. Brill. K. examines Erasmus’ and Beza’s multiple editions of the NT and the annotations that accompany them. He provides a new understanding of the conjectures the two scholars proposed as part of their NT projects, elucidating their different approaches to textual criticism and the nature and role of conjectural emendation in 16th-century scholarship.

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Sociocultural Aspects of Translating and Interpreting. 2006. A. Pym, M. Shlesinger, and Z. Jettmarová, eds. Benjamins. Essays in this volume consider ways in which cultural studies and sociology can be related to translation studies, particularly with respect to research methodologies. Topics covered are the agents behind translation, social histories revealed by translations, the perceived roles and values of translators in social contexts, the hidden power relations structuring publication contexts, and the need to review basic concepts of the way social and cultural systems work. A. Pym contributes an extensive introduction on methodology.

Constructing a Sociology of Translation. 2007. M. Wolf and A. Fukari, eds. Benjamins. This collection of theoretical articles is concerned with conceptualizing a sociology of translation. The contributions discuss the social involvement of translation in various fields, especially the social position of the translator; Bourdieu’s importance in constructing a sociology of translation; methodological questions and a sociologically oriented meta-discussion of translation studies. Part 3, called “Mapping the field: Issues of method and translation practice,” includes

  • Locating systems and individuals in translation studies, Mirella Agorni
  • Translations ‘in the making’, Hélène Buzelin
  • Bridge concepts in translation sociology, Andrew Chesterman.

In Part 4, “Constructing a sociology of translation studies: Overview and perspectives”:

  • Between sociology and history: Method in context and in practice, Daniel Simeoni
  • Y a-t-il place pour une socio-traductologie? Yves Gambier.

Across Boundaries: International Perspectives on Translation Studies. 2007. D. Kenny and K. Ryou, eds. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. These essays from the first IATIS conference (2004) illustrate how particular concepts of translation such as harmonization and thick translation played out in particular cultural contexts, and how ideas from related disciplines (e.g., systemic functional grammar, corpus linguistics) have been applied in translation studies. The thirteen papers are grouped into three sections: Concepts and methods in translation research; Verbal and visual perspectives; and Challenges in training and technology. Contributors from twelve countries and a variety of theoretical backgrounds offer an international, multidisciplinary view of translation studies. In “On Thick Translation as a Mode of Cultural Representation,” Martha P.Y. Cheung discusses the use of what Kwame Anthony Appiah calls “thick translation” as a strategy to bring out the otherness of source culture realities, and how it can be practiced in real terms. In “Translating the Visual. The Importance of Visual Elements in the Translation of Advertising across Cultures,” Ira Torresi argues in favor of an approach to translation in which the verbal and the visual are linked in a semiotic whole, where “every sign is there for the translator to use.”  Nilce Pereira, in a study of illustrations in translations into Brazilian Portuguese of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, shows how translation procedures and analytical categories normally applied to interlingual translation can also be applied to forms of interpretation that operate between semiotic systems.

Translating Others I/II. 2005/2006. T. Hermans, ed. St. Jerome. These two volumes investigate the processes of projection, recognition, displacement and “othering” effected by Western translation practices and translation studies. They explore translating in ways radically different from and largely ignored by the modes of translating in the West. Some titles:

  • Reconceptualizing Western Translation Theory: Integrating Non-Western Thought about Translation, Maria Tymoczko
  • Meanings of Translation in Cultural Anthropology, Doris Bachmann-Medick
  • Misquoted Others: Locating Newness and Authority in Cultural Translation, Ovidi Carbonell Cortés
  • In Our Own Time, On Our Own Terms: ‘Translation’ in India, Harish Trivedi
  • Translation, Transcreation and Culture: Theories of Translation in Indian Languages, G. Gopinathan
  • Translation Choices across Five Thousand Years: Egyptian, Greek and Arabic Libraries in a Land of Many Languages, Stephen Quirke
  • Towards a Folkloristic Theory of Translation, Ibrahim Muhawi
  • Retranslating Ireland: Orality and Authenticity in French and German Translations of Blasket Island Autobiography, Carol O'Sullivan
  • On Translating Somali Poetry, Martin Orwin
  • Translating the Bible in Nineteenth-Century India: Protestant Missionary Translation and the Standard Tamil Version, Hephzibah Israel

Abstracts of the articles are available here.

New Trends in Translation Studies: In Honour of Kinga Klaudy. 2005. Á. Fóris and K. Károly, eds. Akadémiai Kiadó. Part One includes theoretical discussions concerning models and paradigms of translation studies, translation strategies, typology, the notion of equivalence, explication, issues of terminology, and translator training. Part Two contains studies that report on analyses of particular translations, including research on translation universals, hermeneutics, the phenomenon of tautology, explication, and machine translation.

Translation Studies at the Interface of Disciplines. 2006. J. Ferreira Duarte, A. Assis Rosa, and T. Seruya, eds. Benjamins. This collection of conference papers focuses on the necessity of cross-disciplinarity in translation studies, offering perspectives on the current space of translation; on the importation and redefinition of theories, methodologies, and concepts for the study of translation; and on the complex interplay of text and context in translation, calling for  interfaces with sociology, literary theory, cultural studies, discourse analysis, cultural history, etc. The perception of translation as communication in context means that it needs to be investigated within particular situational and sociocultural environments, an enterprise which necessarily involves the collaboration of various disciplines. Some of the articles:

  • Questions in the Sociology of Translation, Andrew Chesterman
  • Pour une socio-traduction, Yves Gambier
  • Conciliation of Disciplines and Paradigms: A Challenge and a Barrier for Future Directions in Translation Studies, M. Rosario Martín Ruano
  • Conducting Research on a ‘Wish-to-Understand’ Basis, Gideon Toury
  • Translation as Dialogue, Annjo Jorid Klungervik Greenall
  • Defining Target Text Reader. Translation Studies and Literary Theory, Alexandra Assis Rosa
  • The Ideological Turn in Translation Studies, Matthew Wing-Kwong Leung

Doubts and Directions in Translation Studies: Selected Contributions from the EST Congress, Lisbon 2004. 2007. Y. Gambier, M. Shlesinger, and R. Stolze, eds. Benjamins. The twenty-six papers discuss various topics in translation studies, such as translation universals, translation strategies, translation and ideology, perception of translated humor, and translation tools. Some titles:

  • Five Reasons Why Semiotics Is Good for Translation Studies, Ubaldo Stecconi
  • Translation Studies and Transfer Studies: A Plea for Widening the Scope of Translation Studies, Susanne Göpferich
  • The Role of Technology in Translation Management, Hanna Risku;
  • Translational Analysis and the Dynamics of Reading, Cecilia Alvstad
  • Translating the Implicit: On the Inferencing and Transfer of Semantic Relations, Louise Denver.

Mary Snell-Hornby. 2006. The Turns of Translation Studies: New Paradigms or Shifting Viewpoints? Benjamins. Beginning with the “cultural turn” of the 1980s, the study traces what turned out to be ground-breaking contributions (new paradigms) as opposed to changes in position on already established territory (shifting viewpoints). Topics of the 1990s include nonverbal communication, gender-based translation studies, stage translation, new fields of interpreting studies and the effects of new technologies and globalization (including the increasingly dominant role of English). The author’s aim is to provide a European perspective on translation studies and to provoke further debate on the current profile and future perspectives of the field.

Theo Hermans. 2007. The Conference of the Tongues. St. Jerome. H. offers reflections on fundamental questions of translation, including value conflicts in translation, the social accountability of translators, and equivalence. The approach is interdisciplinary, bringing concepts from international law, social systems theory, and theology to bear on translation.

Paul Ricoeur. 2006. On Translation. Routledge. “Ricoeur conceives translation as a paradigm; that is to say a theoretical model for any communication exchange and for a dialogue between different cultures and identities. As language, conceived as a universal phenomenon, exists only in the plurality of languages, so humanity as well, exists only in the plurality of cultures. Considering translation as a paradigm of the attitude towards the Other, Paul Ricoeur supports the idea that ethical purposes relating to linguistic hospitality are the model for any kind of hospitality.” (Quote from “Translation and Ethics in the Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur,” lecture by Angelo Bottone, CTIS Monday Seminar series.) This volume is a translation by E. Brennan of Sur la traduction (Paris: Bayard, 2004), with an introduction by Richard Kearney on Ricoeur’s philosophy of translation.

Bill Moody. 2007. “Literal Vs. Liberal: What Is a Faithful Interpretation?” The Sign Language Translator and Interpreter 1/2:179-220. M. presents a selection of research and writings on the theme of “faithful” interpretation in an effort to bring the research to the attention of the Sign Language interpreter. He concludes that a faithful interpretation is ideally one that is co-constructed between the speaker and the interpreter.

Naomi Seidman. 2006. Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation. University of Chicago Press. S. views translation as a crucial issue for understanding the relations between Jews and Christians and the development of each religious community. Bringing together central issues in translation studies with episodes in Jewish-Christian history, she considers a range of texts, from the Bible to Elie Wiesel’s Night, probing such controversies as the accuracy of various Bible translations, the medieval use of converts from Judaism to Christianity as translators, the censorship of anti-Christian references in Jewish texts, and the translation of Holocaust testimony.

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News & Notes


Beginning in this issue, a look at some “open-access” online academic journals:

Oral Tradition

The journal Oral Tradition is a rich resource for discussions of worldwide oral traditions both ancient and modern. Its life in print began in 1986. One of the articles published in its premiere issue was Robert Culley’s “Oral Tradition and Biblical Studies.” Now all issues are freely accessible online, and the journal continues to be published online only. The journal’s editors hope that one result of the electronic version reaching a much larger and more diverse readership will be to encourage submissions from scholars whose voices are not customarily heard in western print media. OT is a fully refereed academic journal. (For all you Dylan fans, the theme of the current issue is “Bob Dylan’s Performance Artistry.”) Readers can download the current issue (volume 21, number 1) and all back issues as pdf files, with eCompanions (related resources) attached. John Miles Foley is the editor.

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures

The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, an online journal from the start, is now in its 12th year. Articles from vols 1-4 and vol 5 have recently been published in two print volumes (Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures I and II, Gorgias Press, 2006, 2007). Editor Ehud Ben Zvi discusses issues involved in publishing open-access e-journals in “A Prototype for Further Publication Development of the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and Other Open-Access Journals” SBL Forum 5/8 (2007).


The Bible translator and audience considerations

This SIL-sponsored conference, subtitled “Presentation and discussion of cutting edge theory for Bible Translation practice,” will take place 5-6 February 2008 at Horsley’s Green. Ernst-August Gutt will be keynote speaker for the second two-day conference organized by Wycliffe’s European Training Programme in association with the International Translation Department. Gutt, author of Translation and Relevance: Cognition and Context, will present some of his most recent research and offer insights into the theoretical underpinnings of the increasing diversification of approaches in Bible Translation, such as Bible Storying, and the new challenges they present. Ernie Wendland will present a paper on “The Theory of Performance Criticism and its implications for Bible Translators and audiences.” http://www.eurotp.org/uk/Session.asp?SessionID=196

Bible translation: The Oral and the Written

This one-day conference takes place this month (Nov. 28) at Lessius Hogeschool in Belgium (http://www.lessius.eu/bible). Papers include: “The Modernity of Bible Translation Research,” Luc van Doorslaer; “Functions of Orality in the Translation of New Testament and Early Christian Texts: a skopos-theoretical perspective,” Christiane Nord; “When the Oral became Written. The Revolution of Bible Translation in the Early Reformation Period,” Gergely Juhász; “Translating the Hebrew Bible. Perspectives from the Septuagint,” Hans Ausloos; “Reanimating Orality. A new design for Bible translation into oral cultures,” Jacobus Naudé. Abstracts of the papers are available at the website.

End of TIC TALK 64, 2007.

November, 2007

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