Bible translation pioneer dies - Word&Way

Bible translation pioneer dies

(ABP) — Eugene Nida, a pioneer in the theory of modern Bible translations in the 20th century, died Aug. 25 in a Brussels hospital. While not a household name, Nida, 96, influenced Bibles in millions of homes.


Eugene Nida

Working with the American Bible Society and United Bible Societies, Nida developed the “dynamic equivalence” approach to Bible translation. Also called “functional equivalence,” the method translates the original biblical languages in order to convey the thoughts expressed rather than rendering it word for word.

In a 2002 interview with Christianity Today, Nida described his work this way: “To help people be willing to say what the text means — not what the words are, but what the text means.”

The revolutionary idea led to the American Bible Society's 1976 Good News Bible and 1995 Contemporary English Version. It also influenced other prominent translations, such as the New Living Translation.

Nida’s influence extended beyond English Bibles as he led in the formation of the United Bible Societies in 1946 and trained translators in the method, making Bibles accessible to millions of people who speak various languages around the world.

While intended to make the Bible more easily understood, dynamic equivalence has its critics. This  summer the Southern Baptist Convention criticized the New International Version for translating male nouns and pronouns in many verses into gender-neutral language.

Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.