Interconfessional Diploma in Theory and Practice of Bible Translation (IDBT)

Coordinator: Prof. A. Gieniusz

1 – General presentation

The Interconfessional Diploma in Theory and Practice of Bible Translation (IDBT) is part of the teaching offer of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Urbaniana University (PUU) in the context of the second cycle of studies for the Licentiate in Biblical Theology. It is a concrete tool for the training of specialists for the translation of the Bible in response to what Pope Benedict XVI wishes in the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, at n. 115: "The inculturation of God’s word is an integral part of the Church’s mission in the world, and a decisive moment in this process is the diffusion of the Bible through the precious work of translation into different languages…….. During the Synod, it was clear that a number of local Churches still lack a complete translation of the Bible in their own languages. How many people today hunger and thirst for the word of God, yet remain deprived of the “widely available access to Sacred Scripture” desired by the Second Vatican Council! For this reason the Synod considered it important, above all, to train specialists committed to translating the Bible into the various languages”. This new formative offer, which obtained its approval by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the year 2021, is also grafted onto the missio of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples which, in 2022, will celebrate the 400th anniversary of its establishment. Furthermore, the IDBT is characterized by its interconfessional dimension: the teaching activity is carried out, in fact, both by teachers of the PUU and by external teachers specializing in Bible translation belonging to the different Christian confessions (Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant), in the context of the 'common Bible work' initiated by the Second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum 22, Directory for Ecumenism 183-6).

2 – Structure of the Program

The IDBT is developed over the time span of the Licentiate in Biblical Theology (two years) and includes THREE MODULES, for a total of ECTS 32, which include three semester Courses and two Seminars (for a total of 120 hours) and precisely:

- the FIRST MODULE includes two semester Courses of linguistic nature on the history and theory of the translation of the Bible, arranged on two progressive levels to be carried out in two years. They are intensive (24 hours / 6 weeks) and are held in English:

Translation of the Bible: History and Theory I (ECTS 4)
Translation of the Bible: History and Theory II (ECTS 4)

Level 1 presents an overview of the history of Bible translation as both an aspect of the history of the Church's mission and as an activity that influences human culture. An overview of the ancient history of Bible translation allows to create the context for understanding this activity in the light of the theoretical studies on translation from the 1950s to the present and the diversity of today's translation recipients.

Level 2 presents the dynamics of the passage from theory to practice, concretely addressing a series of themes such as translation in relation to intertextuality, to the 'parables' of Jesus, to the Johannine 'discourses', to the epistles, to the Bible as literature.

- The SECOND MODULE includes one semester Course (24 hours) relating to the Ancient Versions of the Bible (ECTS 4) which illustrates the historical and missionary dimension of the Bible translation in the various ancient versions made in Aramaic, Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Latin. The course is held in alternate years and will be offered in Italian or English (a written translation from one language to another will be available)

- The THIRD MODULE includes two Seminars on theoretical and practical levels. They present the documents of the Catholic Church on Sacred Scripture from the twentieth century to the present with regard to its translation; concrete aspects of translation when understood as communication, culture, interpretation, ideology; the criteria for defining equivalence, fidelity, similarity and differences in a translation; the literary aspects in a translation, such as metaphor, pun, intertextuality (OT and NT); the various translation methods and their relationship with the different recipients of the translation.

The first Seminar is held in the week immediately preceding the beginning of the academic year and the second in the last week of the first semester (according to the PUU calendar). Both are intensive (24 hours/1 week) and provide for specific practical exercises, and they are held in English or Italian (with written translation into English of the lessons offered in Italian). Contemporary Theory and Practice of Bible Translation: narrative and rhetorical genres (ECTS 5)
Contemporary Theory and Practice of Bible Translation: poetic genre (ECTS 5)

- FINAL PROJECT: The DIBT requires the submission and positive evaluation of a project at the end of each of the two seminars (5 ECTS each).
The Interconfessional Diploma in Theory and Practice of Bible Translation (IDBT) is conferred on students who complete the program, satisfying all requirements.

3 – Students of the DIBT, modes of instruction and participation

Students and modes of instruction

The IDTB is aimed at students of the Faculties of the Pontifical Urbaniana University and of other pontifical universities and institutions and as well as of non-pontifical ones in Rome, Italy and other countries, and also at members of the Catholic Biblical Federation. Participation in IDBT Courses and Seminars takes place at a hybrid level: it consists of both face-to- face (in-class) and remote (online) lessons; however, should the health situation linked to the Covid- 19 pandemic require it, the teaching could take place exclusively at remote, (online). The PUU Covid- 19 protocols will apply to all participating students and professors.

Requirements for participation

To participate in the IDBT it is necessary to be holders of the degree of Baccalaureate and be enrolled in the second cycle of studies in Theology in order to obtain a Licentiate degree. Any registration requests that do not correspond to the above requirements will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

For the THIRD MODULE a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages is required (preparatory level plus at least one semester of the second level). In addition, passive knowledge of English is required at least, as it is the main language of instruction. However, to promote a wider participation in the Courses and Seminars offered in English, the teaching material (lesson plans and handouts) and the chosen bibliography will also be presented in Italian. Similarly, for the lessons offered in Italian, the teaching material (lesson plans and handouts) and the chosen bibliography will also be presented in English. The exams and projects relating to the Courses and Seminars can be done in Italian or other main modern languages.

4 – IDBT Teachers

Prof. Tedros Abraha
Pontifical Urbaniana University

Prof. Pasquale Basta
Pontifical Urbaniana University

Dr. Simon Crisp
United Bible Societies

Dr. Daniel Fitzgerald
American Bible Society

Prof. Andrzej M. Gieniusz
Pontifical Urbaniana University

Dr. Lénart de Regt
United Bible Societies

Prof. Giovanni Rizzi
Pontifical Urbaniana University

Prof. Philip H. Towner
Pontifical Urbaniana University

Dr. Valdo Bertalot
Italian Bible Society

Prof. Barbara Strzałkowska
Pontifical University of Kard. S. Wyszyński of Warsaw, Poland


DTB1000Translation of the Bible: History and Theory IPhilip TOWNER(ECTS 4 - sem. I)
DTB1001Antiche versioni della Bibbia RIZZI,ABRAHA,STRZALKOWSKA(ECTS 3 - sem. II)
DTB3000Contemporary Theory and Practrice of Bible transaltion: poetic genreAndrzej GIENIUSZ(ECTS 5 - sem. II)
DTB3001Contemporay Theory and Practice of the Bible Transaltion: narrative and rhetorical genresAndrzej GIENIUSZ(ECTS 5 - sem. II)