Translation is the process of beginning with something (written or oral) in one language (the source language) and expressing it in another language (the receptor language). The goals of translation may be summed up under four headings: accuracy, appropriateness, naturalness, and form.

For “accuracy,” the message or content the author intended to communicate in the source document must be transmitted so that the reader of the translation receives the same message.

“Appropriateness” refers to expressing that message in a style that reflects the attitude and intention of the author.

“Naturalness” means translating so that the readers feel that their language has been used as they would use it, in a way that allows them to read for meaning, instead of being faced with a series of confusing vocabulary or grammatical puzzles.

The “form” in which the original was written should be reflected in the translation if it can be done without distorting the accuracy, appropriateness, and naturalness of the translation.

All translation, including Bible translation, involves at least two languages. For convenience, we will refer to the language in which the document already exists as the source language. The language into which the translation is being made will be called the receptor language.

The problems that arise in the process of translating have their basis in the similarities and differences between languages, as well as in the specific nature of the documents being translated. The principles of translation have been developed over the years in the process of dealing with the problems.

This is an excerpt from The Origin of the Bible by F. F. Bruce, J. I. Packer, Philip Comfort, and Carl F. H. Henry. To read more, you can purchase this book from many Christian bookstores and online retailers, including

Elliot, R. L., et al. The Origin of the Bible. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2020.