The Power Of Bible Translation -- By: Aloo Osotsi Mojola

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 33:2 (Spring 2019)
Article: The Power Of Bible Translation
Author: Aloo Osotsi Mojola

The Power Of Bible Translation

Aloo Osotsi Mojola

Aloo Osotsi Mojola is a professor at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya, where he teaches philosophy, theology, and translation studies. He holds a PhD from the University of Nairobi and is also an honorary professor in the Faculty of Theology at Pretoria University in South Africa. In his work with the United Bible Societies, he worked as a translation consultant and also as the Africa area translation coordinator, and has participated in some sixty Bible translation projects in Africa. Dr. Mojola serves as a board member for the Kenyan NGO, Men for the Equality of Men and Women.

The author has published on this topic in the journal Verbum et Ecclesia. See “Bible Translation and Gender, Challenges and Opportunities—with Specific Reference to sub-Saharan Africa,” vol. 39, no. 1 (2018), available at

The Bible generates a range of complex and often ambiguous attitudes. For some the Bible is perceived as an oppressive tool that has historically been used to alienate and dehumanize. It has been viewed as an instrument of empire, of colonial and cultural domination, of conquest and subjugation. At various times and places, the Bible has been used as a basis for the discrimination and oppression of women and minorities. The Bible is not neutral. Its entry into a culture sends mixed messages. Where some see loss, others see gain. Where some see dispossession, others see empowerment. Where some see conquest, others see freedom. Where some see cultural dispossession and alienation, others see a call and challenge to reclaim the divine image—and thus equality and dignity—in all humans. For many in the church, the Bible is viewed as a transformative and indispensable tool. It is the church’s guiding document, central to the formulation of her creeds, to the formation of her faith and practice, to the fostering and nurturing of just and loving communities.

Bible translators strive to provide access to this ancient text. Indeed, without translation the biblical writings and their rich treasures would be forever inaccessible. The vast majority of people read or hear a translated Bible, a domesticated Bible that by means of translators’ mediation has crossed boundaries of time and space, of language and culture.

Translation Theory And Practice

I became involved in the world of Bible translation in the early 1980s. This was the high noon of the era of the legendary Eugene Nida. He was the leading light in the Bible Society movement, and his ideas remain important and influential. Dr. Nida was a great inspiration to me during those early years of my career. From Nida I lear...

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