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Translating the Bible in Action: How the Bible Can Be Relevant in All Languages and Cultures

by Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill

Dr. Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill have prepared this book based upon their experiences leading and training leaders of scripture engagement seminars.

Piquant Editions Ltd., P.O. Box 83, Carlisle, CA3 9GR, UK, 2008, 320 pages, £10.00.

Reviewed by Elena Leman, translator and North America branch director, SIL International.

As a SIL member of the Cheyenne Bible Translation project team for thirty years and director of the SIL work in the U.S. and Canada for eight years, the issue of the use and relevance of the scriptures in other languages and cultures is very important to me. Dr. Harriet Hill and Margaret Hill have prepared this book based upon their experiences leading and training leaders of scripture engagement seminars. Harriet serves as SIL international scripture use coordinator and Margaret as Africa area scripture use coordinator. They have lived long term in Africa, have widespread teaching experience, and are sensitive to and encourage awareness of cultural norms that impact communication.

In this book’s twenty-nine chapters under seven major topics, the authors not only explain their reasons but also their methods for presenting each topic. This is not a book to read, but a book to put into action, with each chapter clearly demonstrating ways to put the concepts into practice. Each chapter can be used as an individual topic or as part of a seminar or series of seminars. The authors urge the people who present the topics not to talk for more than ten minutes without involving the participants. They follow their own advice in each chapter, presenting first a story that illustrates the theme of the chapter, a short section introducing the topic, then one of six ways to encourage group participation, including specific questions, concrete activities, and assignments. This is followed by another short section presenting further aspects of the theme, with more suggested activities. Each chapter ends with references and where to find them.

Topics include: (1) the theological foundation for language, culture, and mother tongue scripture use and church growth; (2) issues relating to multilingual and multi-ethnic churches; (3) how to identify relevant issues, prepare Bible studies or sermons, address human concerns such as trauma healing, and the churches’ relations to those with HIV/AIDS; (4) ways of sharing faith such as Bible storying, good news encounters, evangelism and scripture, engaging children, youth, and people of other faiths in scripture; (5) use of scripture through music, drama, and art; (6) literacy; and (7) how to pass it on, including how to prepare for scripture engagement seminars.

I highly recommend this book to any person or group who desires to see lives changed as the result of putting the scriptures into action.

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