Gordon Launches Bible Translation Initiative

Dr. Kenneth L. Pike ’33 was an inventor of words. As one of the first Wycliffe Bible translators, Dr. Pike devised a written system for Mixtec (a spoken language indigenous to Mexico) and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 16 consecutive times for his work. He not only changed the course of linguistic theory, but saw that written language could give many ethnolinguistic minorities a way of encountering God’s Word for the first time—in a language of their own.

In the spirit of Dr. Pike’s legacy, Gordon College plans to launch a new Bible Translation Initiative for students in the spring of 2019. This initiative is designed to prepare students from all majors to join organizations like Wycliffe and SIL International in a variety of roles after graduation.

The new cross-disciplinary initiative is “not under the aegis of any single department,” says Dr. Susan Bobb (psychology). Dr. Bobb, whose leadership has been instrumental to the creation of this initiative, explains that “it is neither a major nor a minor. It is both a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary program—multidisciplinary in the sense that members from several Gordon departments collaborated on its creation, and interdisciplinary in the sense that [participants] must take a core set of integrative classes, from which they can then pursue their own particular service track.”

The service tracks are as diverse as the concept of liberal arts. To thrive, organizations like Wycliffe do not only need linguists, but storytellers, teachers, marketers, IT and medical professionals, counselors, accountants and project managers. Coupled with vocational training for these service tracks, the Bible Translation Initiative intends to provide financial support to students in its cohort.

“We are thrilled with the Bible Translation Initiative because Gordon students will be able to engage in meaningful work for the Kingdom and make a direct impact on people groups around the globe during the very first phase of their career journey,” says Dr. Damon DiMauro (languages and linguistics), adding that the financial aid component “is significant because higher education will be made more affordable for families and because students will not be saddled with debt for years to come after graduation.”

This new initiative was unveiled to the Gordon community after the “One for All: One Word, Every People” event on November 2, which celebrated the work of Scripture translation, specifically the 24 most recently translated Scriptures from 15 countries around the world. During the event, a musical group of ethnomusicologists called IziBongo performed songs in 18 languages from Pazande to Menominee, and Wycliffe President Bob Creson shared that the mission of completing Bible translation in every language is now well within reach. The Bible Translation Initiative aims to support this end goal by training students who will be part of bringing the Word to the 26 million people who have not yet read it.

Students can to apply to join the Bible Translation Initiative starting in the spring of 2018.