LiFE-Style Translating-2

This Workbook for Bible Translators (see the preceding post) has been prepared as a practical supplement to accompany the text Translating the Literature of Scripture (SIL International, 2004), which expounds an artistic-rhetorical approach to Bible translation. It may be termed a literary-functional equivalence version (LiFE, for short) since it combines a concern not only for the aesthetic-poetic dimension of Scripture, but also for relative functional parity as part of a flexible, multifaceted translational strategy. The ideas developed in this workbook, especially in the first chapter, also arise from some of the important principles of communication discussed in Contextual Frames of Reference in Translation (Manchester: St. Jerome, 2008).

My reasons for adopting the term literary functional equivalence are considered in chapter 3, but it may be helpful here to comment on some of the potential problems that may be associated with the use of the term “literary” in this textual setting:
1. Connotation — By literary I am not referring to some esoteric high-level variety of professional writing (or translating) intended for sophisticated silent readers.
2. Implication — While the term literary unfortunately may imply a written text, my aim is to encourage a translated text that can not only be read, but one that also sounds natural to the ears of the primary target-language audience.
3. Usage — My use of the term literary should not suggest an uncontrolled type of dynamic-equivalence version. My area of special interest in this workbook is more delimited — namely, with reference to the artistic (formal) and rhetorical (functional) features that are associated with familiar target-language genres as these relate to particular biblical texts on the one hand, and specific audiences and communicative goals on the other.

As translators and their teachers/consultants work through the various lessons of this book, they are given an opportunity to put the LiFE method proposed into practice. They can do this, first, through a critical review of some key aspects of its theoretical background, and then — more importantly — by means of a concrete application to a diverse range of Scripture texts and text types.

About ewendland

I am currently an instructor at the Lutheran Seminary, Lusaka, ZAMBIA (since 1968). My academic training has been in biblical studies (BA, Northwestern College; MST, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary), Bible translation (several SIL courses), linguistics (MA, University of Wisconsin, Madison), and African languages (PhD, UWM). I am a “retired” translation consultant for the United Bible Societies (having worked with projects in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). I currently still serve as an external examiner in Zambian languages (University of Zambia) and as visiting professor in OT, NT, and Ancient Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, with an affiliation to the Centre for Bible Interpretation and Translation in Africa ( My research and writing interests focus on the literary (structural, poetic, rhetorical) analysis of biblical texts and their oratorical translation, especially in southeastern Bantu languages (
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