This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

Celebrating 20 Years in Ministry: Home of Bible Translators & Scholars

Located in Jerusalem, the Home of Bible Translators (HBT) was founded in 1995 by distinguished Bible scholars Dr. Havor and Mirja Ronning. Celebrating its 20th year in ministry the school has 125 alumni from 35 countries. Ninety-four of these alumni have helped translate the Old Testament from the original Hebrew to 76 other languages, for the benefit of 130 million speakers.  And close to 100 Bible translation consultants and personnel as well as PhD Students have participated in short-term HBT courses touching hundreds of other language projects around the world.

The central service provided by HBT is a full-immersion, intensive six month course in Israel for Bible translators and scholars to train in the translation of the Old Testament. The course is held in association with the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Underscoring the critical importance of translating the Tanakh (Old Testament), Baruch Kvasnica, HBT’s Academic Coordinator, reports: “The New Testament has been translated into far more languages than the Tanakh. But it is not enough to translate only the New Testament.  People cannot connect with the whole story of God without the Tanakh. They miss the power of the creation narrative and cannot fully grasp the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) without knowledge of the sacrificial system described in the Torah. How can they receive the Good News without knowing what sin is? The Torah tells us about God’s redemptive plan and the need of a Savior.”

Moreover, Baruch adds. “When you don’t have the Book of Psalms, the hymn book of the Jewish and Christian people, and you don’t have the Prophets emphasizing repentance and God’s continuing plan for the Jews, you make room for replacement theology. We are at dramatic threshold in time for the Tanakh to be translated.”

While the ethos of the HBT is Christian, the Hebrew University has entered into partnership with the HBT because “we have a common goal in wanting to see the Hebrew Bible translated into the world’s languages,” Baruch explains. “The University has been extremely supportive of our work and has gone to bat for our students to get visas to study in the Land.”

Baruch Kvasnica, HBT’s Academic Coordinator, touring with a group of students
Baruch Kvasnica, HBT’s Academic Coordinator, touring with a group of students

“We do what no one else did. We bring groups of Bible translators and consultants into Israel from places like Papua New Guinea and Mongolia and teach them Biblical Hebrew – the Language of the Bible in the Land of the Bible. We train them here in Hebrew and the Land and then they go home and translate the Scriptures directly into their own language. They will do this with an understanding of their own people and culture that foreign workers and Bible translators do not have.”

It is tremendously important to HBT that the students learn on location in Israel. “Our semester course includes 18 field trips around the country. To be able to see, taste, smell and hear the Land gives a richness and depth to the students’ understanding of the Scriptures and their translations,” Baruch confirms.

Held at the Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School, HBT’s 20th Anniversary celebration in March was an important, defining moment.

Baruch shares: “Internationally renowned Bible scholars and consultants gathered with Hebrew University professors and HBT Alumni from Africa and the West to highlight the crucial work of translating the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) from Hebrew to other languages. It was an historic and unique event. Not since the time of Jerome in the third century, has there been such a movement to come back to the Land and translate from the original Hebrew text.”

“We are thankful to God for spearheading this work. We are now receiving much demand to expand and double our student intake and quadruple it in three-four years’ time.  

Concluding, Baruch affirms,“ Not only do we have the opportunity to bring students from the nations but we are also gearing up to spread the word of God by taking Israelis who already have modern Hebrew to go out and teach Biblical Hebrew and help to train translators in the Language and Land of the Bible. This is an exciting, seismic shift in Bible translation.”

The Lord is working through HBT to fulfill His Word: The Torah will go out from Zion, the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3),

For further information about HBT and its programs:http://eng.bibletranslators.org/

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Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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