District Offices

About the Bible

Make a Donation


News Releases

Changing Hearts Changing Lives


Search the Bible

Free Scriptures
& Resources




The Bible Cause

About Us

Contact Us

Search our site:

Copyright © 2009
Canadian Bible Society
All Rights Reserved

Main  |  A Passion for Translation   |  Inside Translation  |  Native Languages
World Languages

Inside Translation
Translating the Gospel (Part 10) : Key Terms
by Hart Wiens, CBS Director of Scripture Translation

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (John 3.16 - NRSV)

The word "believes" is a "key term" because of the critical role it plays in communicating the message of the Bible. In the Gospel belief is the channel through which salvation by grace comes to people (Ephesians 2.8). The Greek root is translated in English as 'believe' or 'faith,' depending on the version and context. This core word occurs about 240 times in the New Testament.

The translator's challenges are to first understand the concept in the Greek and second, to express it in the language receiving the new translation. It's critical to go to the original text for key terms, ensuring faithfulness to the original.

The problem with our English verb 'to believe' is that for those not very familiar with the Gospel, its meaning may be limited to a dictionary understanding of accepting something as true. In the context of the Gospel, the original term carried a deeper meaning of acceptance, not just at the head level, but also in the heart. Whenever the original Greek term is used in conjunction with the preposition 'in' or 'into' as in this verse, it carries the meaning of faith or confidence in a person to the extent of acting on that faith.

We struggle for the right tern to translate key terms such as 'believe'. Sometimes that language has a unique word that captures the full meaning. The common word for believe in Kalinga is 'manuttuwa', which goes back to the word for truth which in Kalinga is 'tuttuwa'. When used as a verb this term is commonly used to mean 'believe' as well as 'obey'. The Kalinga understand intuitively that to believe in Jesus means to obey his teaching. This does not make the road to discipleship any easier for them, but it does bring their understanding of the Gospel more directly in line with the teachings of our Lord's brother James who maintains in his letter that faith without works is dead.

Translation is never easy. Often it seems impossible to simply and accurately convey some of the teachings of the Gospel in another language. But at other times we experience the serendipity of finding concepts in a new language that convey the message about Christ with a clarity that almost transcends the original. There is always something to be learned by reading or hearing the message in a new language.

For more information and discussion on this topic, please contact us by .

Districts |  Make a Donation |  Volunteer
News Releases | Changing Hearts Changing Lives | Proclamation
Search the Bible | Free Scriptures & Resources
About the Bible |  Translation | Publishing |  Distribution
The Bible Cause | About Us |  Contact Us