Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Theology

Editor-in-Chief: Taliaferro, Charles

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Function + Loyalty: Theology Meets Skopos

Christiane Nord
Published Online: 2016-06-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0045


Bible translation is traditionally in the hands of theologians, whose focus is on the meaning of the source text rather than on what modern readers are able to understand. This paper attempts to show where translation theory, or more specifically, the Skopos theory of translation, may help Bible translators to produce texts that “work” or “function” for the intended audience without betraying their trust that they are reading God’s word in their own language. After a brief overview of the development of Translation Studies, we shall take a quick look at some guiding principles of Bible translation, as explained in prefaces of modern versions, before presenting the main ideas of Skopos theory and illustrating them by a few examples from the New Testament. The conclusion will sum up the fundamental hypotheses of the skopos-theoretical concept “Function + Loyalty.”

Keywords: Purpose; functionalism; loyalty; translation brief; audience orientation


  • Berger, Klaus. Historische Psychologie des Neuen Testaments, 3rd ed., Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1995. Google Scholar

  • Berger, Klaus and Nord, Christiane. Das Neue Testament und frühchristliche Schriften. Frankfurt: Insel Verlag, 1999. Google Scholar

  • Bühler, Karl. The Theory of Language. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. [1934]2011. Google Scholar

  • Catford, J. C. A Linguistic Theory of Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1965. Google Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton. 1957. Google Scholar

  • Chomsky, Noam. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1965. Google Scholar

  • Cicero, Marcus Tullius. De optimo genere oratorum [Loeb Classical Library]. English translation by H. M. Hubbell. London: Heinemann. [46 B.C.E]1959. Google Scholar

  • DCE – Dictionary of Contemporary English. London: Langenscheidt-Longman. 1997. Google Scholar

  • Jerome (Hieronymus), Sophronius Eusebius Liber de optimo genere interpretandi (Epistula 57). Edited and commented by G. J. M. Bartelink. Leiden: Brill. [395]1980. Google Scholar

  • Jakobson, Roman. Linguistics and Poetics. In: Thomas A. Sebeok (ed.) Style in Language. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press. 1960, 350–77. Google Scholar

  • Kade, Otto. Qualitätsstufen der Übersetzung. In: Fremdsprachen.1964, 250-260. Google Scholar

  • Nida, Eugene A. Toward a Science of Translating. With Special Reference to Principles and Procedures Involved in Bible Translating. Leiden: Brill. 1964. Google Scholar

  • Nida, Eugene A. A Framework for the Analysis and Evaluation of Theories of Translation. In: Richard W. Brislin (ed.): Translation, Application and Research, New York: Gardner Press. 1976, 47-91. Google Scholar

  • Nida, Eugene A. and Taber, Charles. The Theory and Practice of Translation. Leiden: Brill. 1969. Google Scholar

  • Nord, Christiane. Loyalität statt Treue: Vorschläge zu einer funktionalen Übersetzungstypologie. Lebende Sprachen 34, 1989, 100–5. Google Scholar

  • Nord, Christiane. Translating as a Purposeful Activity. Functionalist Approaches Explained. Manchester: St. Jerome (Translation Theories Explained, 1), 1997. Google Scholar

  • Nord, Christiane. Text Analysis in Translation, 2nd revised edition. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: Rodopi. 2005. (First edition: 1991). Google Scholar

  • Nord, Christiane. Translating for Communicative Purposes across Culture Boundaries. In: Journal of Translation Studies 9(1), 2006, 43-60. Google Scholar

  • Oettinger, Anthony. Automatic Language Translation. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press. 1960. Google Scholar

  • Reiss, Katharina. Texttyp und Übersetzungsmethode: Der operative Text. Kronberg/Ts.: Scriptor. 1976. Google Scholar

  • Reiss, Katharina; Vermeer, Hans J. Towards a General Theory of Translational Action. Manchester: St Jerome. [1984]2013. German original: Grundlegung einer allgemeinen Translationstheorie, Tübingen: Niemeyer 1984. Google Scholar

  • Snell-Hornby, Mary. Translation Studies: An Integrated Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 1988. Google Scholar

  • Snell-Hornby, Mary. The Turns of Translation Studies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 2006. Google Scholar

  • Svejcer, Alexander D. Übersetzung und Linguistik. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag. 1987. Google Scholar

  • Venuti, Lawrence. The Translator’s Invisibility. A History of Translation. London-New York: Routledge. 1995. Google Scholar

  • Vermeer, Hans J. Ein rahmen für eine allgemeine translationstheorie. In: Lebende Sprachen, 1978. Reprint in Hans J. Vermeer. Aufsätze zur Translationstheorie. Heidelberg: Vermeer. 1983, 48–61. Google Scholar

  • Vermeer, Hans J. Skopos and Commission in Translational Action. In: Chesterman, A. (ed.). Readings in Translation. Helsinki: Oy Finn Lectura Ab. 1989, 173-187. Google Scholar

  • Vinay, Jean-Paul; Darbelnet, Jean. Stylistique comparée du français et de l’anglais. Méthode de traduction. Paris: Didier. 1958.Google Scholar

  • Quoted Bible translations from www.biblegateway.comGoogle Scholar

  • AMP 2015: Amplified Bible. Google Scholar

  • ASV 2000: American Standard Version. Google Scholar

  • CEB 2011: Common English Bible. Google Scholar

  • CEV 1995: Contemporary English Version. Google Scholar

  • ERV 2006: Easy-to-Read Version. Google Scholar

  • ESV 2001: English Standard Version. Google Scholar

  • GNT 1992: Good News Translation. Google Scholar

  • GW 1995: GOD’S WORD Translation. Google Scholar

  • KJV: King James Version. Google Scholar

  • KJ21 1994: King James Version 21st century. Google Scholar

  • LUTHER 1984: Die Bibel nach der Übersetzung Martin Luthers. Google Scholar

  • TLB 1971: The Living Bible. Google Scholar

  • MEV 2014: Modern English Version. Google Scholar

  • MOUNCE 2011: The Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament. Google Scholar

  • MSG 2002: The Message. Google Scholar

  • NIV 1984: Holy Bible, New International Version. Google Scholar

  • NLT 2013: Holy Bible. New Living Translation. Google Scholar

  • NRSV 1989: New Revised Standard Version Bible. Google Scholar

  • VOICE 2012: The Voice Bible. Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2016-03-19

Accepted: 2016-04-21

Published Online: 2016-06-10

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0045.

Export Citation

©2016 Christiane Nord. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Federico M. Federici and Patrick Cadwell
Translation Spaces, 2018, Volume 7, Number 1, Page 20

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in