Guest / Limited Access /

Eugene A. Nida is not a household name, but the 84-year-old resident of Belgium has influenced the Bibles read by most Christians around the world. The "premier linguist and translation consultant," as the Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions styles him, writes mostly about technical topics: descriptive linguistics, cross-cultural communications, translation theory, and semantics. However, the translations he helped shape in over 200 languages make it easier for many millions of lay Christians and nonbelievers to grasp the meaning of the Bible.

He taught at the Summer Institute of Linguistics (now SIL), the educational alter ego of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and eventually became executive secretary for translations at the American Bible Society.

He coined the term dynamic equivalence translation to describe a "meaning-based" approach to translation—one that looks for functional equivalence rather than formal resemblance in translation. The American Bible Society's 1976 Good News Bible and its 1995 Contemporary English Version show his influence, as do other prominent translations, such as the New Living Translation.

CT editor David Neff talked with Nida when the outspoken linguist visited the United States earlier this year.

What do you consider your most important contribution to Bible translation?

To help people be willing to say what the text means—not what the words are, but what the text means.

...

How did you develop your ideas about Bible translation 50 years ago?

When I was at the University of California, Los Angeles, our professors would never let us translate literally. They said, "We want to know the meaning. We don't want to know just the words."

I found that a number of the Greek classics had been translated ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedMeet the Non-Christians Who Take the Bible Literally, Word for Word
Meet the Non-Christians Who Take the Bible Literally, Word for Word
Only half of non-Christians think the Bible is a book of fables. So who are the ones who think every word of it is directly from God?
TrendingReligious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights? It's More Complicated
Religious Freedom vs. LGBT Rights? It's More Complicated
The legal context for what's happening at Gordon College, and how Christians can respond despite intense cultural backlash.
Editor's PickWhat We Talk About When We Talk About 'Birth Control'
What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Birth Control'
Meaningful debate requires us to define the terms of discussion.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

Christianity Today
Interview: Eugene Nida on Meaning-full Translations
hide thisOctober 7 October 7

In the Magazine

October 7, 2002

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.