Seminar on Relevance Theory in Bible Translation
October 30, 2017

How does one translate in such a way that the information relevant in one culture at a certain time would be communicated with the same relevance in a different culture at a different time? What does one need to be mindful of in order to impact a contemporary audience in the same way that the original audience was impacted? What Biblical materials are relevant for a particular audience?

These are some of the questions that were addressed during the latest IBT seminar – “Relevance Theory in Bible Translation”. The seminar was held October 23-28, 2017 on the outskirts of Moscow and brought together about 40 participants from 24 translation projects. It was led by Dr. Stephen Pattemore and Dr. Christoph Unger, linguists and Bible scholars from IBT’s partner organizations the United Bible Societies and SIL International.

The main teaching tool used during the seminar was IBT's recent Russian translation of Bible Translation Basics. Communicating Scripture in a Relevant Way, originally published by SIL International. The textbook demonstrates how to apply relevance theory principles in cross-cultural communication while preserving the relevance of presented information.

Understanding how a human brain processes information can be very helpful to those involved in Bible translation. This is the reason why the seminar generated quite a lot of interest. While reflecting on some of the topics discussed during the seminar, many participants said that in their future translation work they would spend more time studying the context of the primary audience and that of the modern recipient audience. Both the theoretical advice on finding correct terminology and the practical application sessions were thought-provoking. Many topics were discussed in small discussion groups, which allowed interaction between representatives from a variety of translation projects. This helped the participants understand how the same words can carry different meaning in different languages and cultures and how the same terms, words, and definitions can take on completely new shades of meaning.

It is IBT’s desire that the interest generated during this seminar would continue to grow and result in better translations that communicate the Bible’s message in relevant new ways to contemporary readers in the languages of Russia and the CIS.