Seeker’s Class: The Bible and Translation

The materials on this page were collected for the Seeker’s Class at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, a weekly gathering dedicated to studying the Bible, social justice issues, and Church history.

The Bible and Translation

For these three weeks of the Seeker’s Class at FCCLA we will have a conversation about the Bible and translation. We will discuss linguistic theories of translation and the specifics of English Bible translations. The resources below are not “homework” by any means. We will be looking at some of them on Sundays, and I will play some videos in class, but you are not expected to be familiar with them. If you have any questions, please contact me by email. Please come with questions and thoughts!

Week 1: Why and How? (Why read the Bible? How does translation work?)

Recommended listening (if you have time before the Seeker’s Class meets)

Radiolab podcast on translation – if you only have a short amount of time, listen to the first segment, “100 Flowers”.

Extra Resources

Video: A professional translator talking about language

Video: Bible translators at work

Video: What is translation? Meaning vs. Music

Ken Liu on translating The Three Body Problem from Chinese to English

Handout with discussion questions

Week 1 Handout PDF

Week 2: Which? (Which translation should I read? Hint: It depends.)

Recommended reading (if you have time before the Seeker’s Class meets)

New Testament scholar/translator Daniel B. Wallace on different Bible translations and translation theory

Extra Resources

Video: PBS Documentary on the history of the English Bible

Recent discovery of a draft of the KJV sheds light on the process of translation

NPR segment on the influence of the KJV on the English langauge

Video: Choosing a Bible translation

A chart with basic information about a variety of translations

(Another) chart with basic information about a variety of translations

Handout with discussion questions

Week 2 Handout PDF

Week 3: But what about… (Did Paul really write those words? Do I need to learn Greek? What’s the Septuagint? …etc.)

Recommended watching (if you have time before the Seeker’s Class meets)

Video and article: Tedx talk on some problems with English Bible translations.

Extra Resources

And God Said by Joel M. Hoffman, who gave the TEDx talk above.

Video: A translator of Homer on translating Ancient Greek into English

Dr. Robert Alter on translating the Hebrew scriptures

How to use an interlinear English/Greek Bible

Bible Study Tools, a translation comparison site with study notes

Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament – the version of the NT text that scholars use. It incorporates the latest in textual criticism scholarship.

Video: a reading of John 1 in Koine Greek

Bart Ehrman on why the authorship of the Pauline epistles matters

Some (partially sensationalist) theories on who wrote which books of the Bible

Handout with discussion questions

Week 3 Handout PDF