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Concepts of Conversion

The Politics of Missionary Scriptural Translations

There has not been conducted much research in religious studies and (linguistic) anthropology analysing Protestant missionary linguistic translations. Contemporary Protestant missionary linguists employ grammars, dictionaries, literacy campaigns, and translations of the Bible (in particular the New Testament) in order to convert local cultures. The North American institutions SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) are one of the greatest scientific-evangelical missionary enterprises in the world. The ultimate objective is to translate the Bible to every language. The author has undertaken systematic research, employing comparative linguistic methodology and field interviews, for a history-of-ideas/religions and epistemologies explication of translated SIL missionary linguistic New Testaments and its premeditated impact upon religions, languages, sociopolitical institutions, and cultures. In addition to taking into account the history of missionary linguistics in America and theological principles of SIL/WBT, the author has examined the intended cultural transformative effects of Bible translations upon cognitive and linguistic systems. A theoretical analytic model of conversion and translation has been put forward for comparative research of religion, ideology, and knowledge systems.

Author Information

Lars Kirkhusmo Pharo, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.

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Audience: All those interested in History of Religions; Theology; Linguistics; Cultural and Translation Studies; Missiology

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