Eugene Nida dies

August 26th, 2011 by Hannah

Dr Eugene Nida, a giant and pioneer of Bible translation in the last century, died yesterday, aged 96. Of Dr Nida, our Executive Director Eddie Arthur, shared these thoughts:

“Though the average Christian may not have heard the name Eugene Nida, he is undoubtedly one of the most influential Christians of the last century. His legacy is found in hundreds, if not thousands, of Bible translations in minority languages around the world.”

This biography of his life and work below comes from the United Bible Societies, of whom Dr Nida was a respected leader.

Eugene Nida, the giant of Bible translation in the twentieth century, died in hospital in Brussels on August 25. He was 96. Conveying the news, his widow Elena said, “My adored husband has passed away 10 minutes ago. Thank you for your prayers. He was a saint. The Lord is with him.”

For more than 50 years Eugene Nida was the leader of the translation program of the American Bible Society, and subsequently the intellectual leader of the global program of the United Bible Societies, as well as consultant to that organisation.

Dr Nida will be best remembered for the revolution he brought about in the field of Bible translation in the mid-twentieth century. The resulting impact on the growth and development of the Church continues to be felt as millions of people in hundreds of languages around the world have access to the Bible because of the approach he developed and promoted.

Using concepts from linguistics, cultural studies, communication sciences and psychology, Nida developed a practical approach to translation he called dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence, the goal of which was to make the translation clear and understandable as well as accurate. He also influenced the emerging field of modern translation studies and is generally acknowledged as having set in motion the developments that led to that discipline. Through his numerous books and publications and extraordinary lecture schedule, he was able to help scholars, translators and specialists in Christian missions find new ways to think about effective communication.

Nida graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1936, summa cum laude, with a major in Greek and minor in Latin. He received his Masters degree in New Testament Greek in 1939 from the University of Southern California and doctorate in linguistics from the University of Michigan in 1943.

In 1943 he joined the American Bible Society and immediately embarked on extensive travel to work with Bible translators, gradually developing the dynamic equivalence approach. He was an extraordinarily effective communicator, and was able to train translators with a wide range of educational backgrounds how to use his approach. The resulting translations were both accurate exegetically and understandable. The Bible has thereby become available and accessible in an unprecedented way.

When a number of national Bible Societies, including the American Bible Society, joined together for mutual support and formed the United Bible Societies in 1946, Nida was present at the founding meeting, and subsequently was responsible for shaping the translation programs of the new organisation.

Nida recognised the need for translators to have the very best base texts to work from, and led major projects on both the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament. He was also responsible for a new approach to lexicography. The Greek-English lexicon project that he headed up resulted in an invaluable tool for translators.

His legacy continues in the Eugene A Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at the American Bible Society.

Nida’s wife of 50 years, Althea Lucille Sprague Nida, passed away in 1993. Some time later, he met a distinguished translator and interpreter, Dr Elena Fernandez-Miranda, whom he married in 1997 and who survives him.

The original article comes from the United Bible Societies, which you can read here. The whole of Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK pass on their condolences to Mrs Nida, and thank the Father for his life of service.

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10 Responses to “Eugene Nida dies”

  1. Marco de Pinto says:

    Thank you for everything you did,Dr. Nida.

    “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

    Philippians 1:23

  2. Myriam Salama-Carr says:

    My sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Translation Studies is in mourning.

  3. The Jordanian Translators Association (JTA) mourns Prof. Nida.

    PROF. Abdullah Shunnaq
    JTA President and Chair of Translation Dept. at Yarmouk University, Jordan

  4. arlette veglia says:

    Très sincères condoléances.
    Arlette Véglia
    Catedrática de Filología francesa
    Departamento de Filología francesa
    Universidad autónoma de Madrid

  5. “Blessed are they who die in the Lord, for their work lives on beyond them” (as sung in Brahms Requiem).
    So true.

  6. Amparo Hurtado Albir says:

    Mi más sincero pésame a toda su familia. Y toda mi tristeza por la pérdida de una gran persona y de un gran traductólogo.

  7. Lamento mucho el fallecimiento de este biblista, teórico de la ciencia de la traducción en general, y de la traducción bíblica en particular.
    Paz en su tumba.

  8. Prof.N.Krupanandam says:

    Really it is a sad news to all Linguists, especially Morphologists and Translation researchers and translators. On the behalf of all the faculty members and students of Centre for Applied Lingusitics and Translation Studies, University of Hyderabad I am sending our heartful condolence to his beraved family members. God may bless this soul in rest.

  9. JORGE Y OLIVIA SERRANO says:

    Aunque nos sentimos profundamente acongojados por el fallecimiento del Hermano Nida, estamos seguros que él se encuentra gozoso en la casa del Padre Eterno, para quien sirvió fielmente durante toda su vida, habiendo contribuido grandemente en el engrandemiento de su reino a través de la traducción de la Biblia, basada en el principio de la equivalencia funcional, que permite sentir y entender a Jesús como un miembro más de la cultura y lengua que recibe el beneficio de Su Palabra traducida.

  10. Borhane OUDAINIA says:

    ash to ash, the lord has taken back what he gave, but his work will live for ever.

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