Translating the Bible in 40 Weeks? Dan Kramer on Bible Translation Methods

Of the world’s 7,100 languages, less than ten percent have a complete, written Bible. The Great Commission depends on translations into the heart languages of the lost. How can we get Scripture into the remaining languages without waiting for English-speaking experts in Greek and Hebrew to learn multiple foreign languages—or, is speeding up the process the wrong idea altogether?

We dive deep this week with Dan Kramer of Wycliffe Associates who developed the MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation) methodology that is rapidly increasing the speed of translation across the globe, resulting in 254 complete New Testament translations.

Dan Kramer worked for thirteen years in the field of education as faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He came to Wycliffe Associates in 2009 to create an English program. Within three years, the program spanned across 25 countries. Today, Dan leads a staff of more than 60 people to spread of MAST reach the entire globe aside from a handful of nations, reaching into oral language groups, deaf and eventually deaf/blind populations. Dan resides in Orlando, Florida, with his wife Holly, and they have six children.


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The Missions Podcast is powered by ABWE International and the Global Gospel Fund. This episode is also sponsored by Radius International.

3 comments

  • I have been writing a blog series on the dangers of the MAST method used by Wycliffe Associates. This is a CRISIS and I encourage people to start with the first blog in my series: http://gracefabian.com/designed-to-make-errors/ If your goal is to speed up translation support The Seed Company instead.
    It is repeated quite often at the Wycliffe Associate banquets, the same banquets that I used to speak at, that someone who already speaks the language being translated and knows his own culture would be miles ahead of a foreigner coming in and learning the language. That statement simply isn’t accurate. Though a national speaks his language, in many cases he doesn’t know the Bible. And even if he knows his language it doesn’t mean he is fully proficient in that language. The average English-speaking American commonly uses about 3,000 words, but there are over 171,000 words in current use in the English language. The basic proficiency that a typical person has with their native language leads to using words like “car” or “plane,” because the typical person doesn’t need to know that particular car is a Fiat 500x, or that particular plane is a Cessna 120.

  • I suppose the Bible translation experts will have to decide this issue. The flip side of Grace’s argument is, is it better to get the Word into the hands of more people sooner? The alternative is to see many more people pass into eternity without having any idea of Christ and His love and forgiveness. I don’t presume to give an answer to the issue, but I do believe there are two sides to it.

  • I am the daughter of Grace L. Fabian (see comment above). I have a facebook page I’ve created now called Killing Translation to highlight the many slips and falls of Wycliffe Associates. Bible translation cannot be done quickly and accurately. I would argue with David Shaw that if the concern is getting the good news to people sooner then evangelism should be your tool. If getting accurate translations is your concern then avoid Wycliffe Associates and support Wycliffe Bible Translators, two separate organizations.

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