Corban’s Partnership with IBLT Impacts 12 Million Through New Bible
“I think this is one of the most missional things we do at the University,” says Corban Dean of the School of Ministry, Dr. Greg Trull.
Corban’s partnership with the Institute for Biblical Languages and Translation (IBLT), a member of the broader 4.2.20 foundation, first came about through service. IBLT provides accelerated training for bible translators, with the aim of having the translation of the Old Testament begin in every mother tongue by 2033. After hearing about the missional services and programs Corban University was providing in Cameroon and Uganda, they reached out in search of a similar partnership.
As a collaboration between Corban’s Center for Global Engagement and School of Ministry, initially neither department believed they had the necessary scope to accomplish what IBLT was asking. “The more we talked about it, the more we realized the opportunity was just so good that we decided we had to find some way to pursue it,” Trull says. “We knew that this had the potential for phenomenal mission impact.”
IBLT takes an uncommon approach to translation. As a part of a nine-month intensive and accelerated program, they take individuals from strategic countries, who already have first-hand knowledge of the target language, and equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge of biblical Hebrew to be able to translate the Bible into their unreached mother tongue. “It’s a very innovative approach in comparison to the traditional method of translation,” Trull says. “Considering the strategic countries that they would be working in, the impact is huge.”
Not only does IBLT bring innovative training in translation to the table, but they are also able to offer accredited masters degrees to their students who stay on for an additional summer term. And this is where Corban University fits its vital skillset into the picture. “We provide American accreditation for degrees which they would not be able to offer without our work,” says Trull. “We also do a lot of advising on curriculum, structuring classes, and faculty policy.” It’s a skillset that Corban and the School of Ministry have honed and sharpened through years of administrative experience and their time developing curriculum for their pastoral training programs in Africa.
For Trull, he sees the match as a marriage of two very distinct sets of expertise, building towards a greater whole. “Their experts are in the areas of foundational work, marketing, and language training,” he says. “But the academic and administrative elements were where they really needed additional support.” Through Corban’s partnership and assistance, IBLT is now able to offer their students the opportunity to obtain a Master of Arts in Classical Hebrew or a Master of Arts in Language Consulting, depending on the translation role they hope to occupy once they graduate.
The combination of IBLT’s innovative approach to translation with Corban’s experience in curriculum development and administrative support has already produced incredible results. “We bring in people who have no Hebrew background whatsoever, and nine months later they can speak and read and translate it fluently,” says Trull.
He attributes this rapid development to the immersive nature of the program. “Once you’re on campus you can’t speak your native language,” he says. “You have to speak to one another in Hebrew. And we’re located in a Hebrew neighborhood in the old city of Jerusalem. If you want to get away from school and get away from Hebrew, good luck. If you go down to the store, they speak Hebrew. You’re around it a lot.”
The program’s innovative approach, coupled with its immersive nature—in the geographic heart of the Hebrew language—is only amplified by the expert faculty IBLT has been able to recruit. “We have people like Randall Booth who is an absolute genius on understanding how people grasp language,” Trull says. “Our coursework and curriculum structure all fold together. When you combine teachers from some of the best schools in the world, plus our partnership with Hebrew University, which is the leading Hebrew University in the world, plus the immersive approach, it’s pretty powerful.”
As a result, the program has been able to make major strides toward accomplishing their goal of seeing the Bible translated into every mother tongue. “Our second graduating class now translates the Bible for over 10 million people,” Trull says. Through their first three cohorts of only 73 students from 27 distinct target nations, the IBLT program has been able to begin 60 Old Testament translation projects, supporting 153 different languages, and reaching over 12 million people from unserved language groups.
“Our first cohort did so well that we had a lot of translation agencies scouting us out and doing efficiency studies on our training, and we just crushed it,” Trull says. Because of their success, some of the world’s most prominent translation agencies such as Wycliffe, Good Seed, and Pioneer Bible Translators, now scholarship their students to attend IBLT for training in Hebrew. “The independent efficiency studies done by these major agencies, like Wycliffe, revealed that we were doing things quicker, cheaper, and better.”
Trull has been amazed himself to see the rapid growth not only of the program, but of the students who attend. “I’ve been to two graduations now. They are all in Hebrew and spoken by the students. It’s incredible to see the change,” he says. “The numbers speak for themselves. If your focus is learning the Hebrew language, I don’t think anyone does it better than IBLT.”
As IBLT and Corban look toward the future and their ambitious goal to begin translation of the Old Testament into every mother tongue by 2033, Trull is simply glad that Corban stepped out in faith, accepting the responsibility of a partnership that, at the time, seemed impossible. It speaks to the core of Corban’s mission: “educating Christians who will make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ.”
“It’s a privilege for us to partner with IBLT,” he says. “It carries Corban’s impact into countries that we’d never even get students from. Instead, we have people that are leading teams and translating the Bible for hundreds of thousands of people at a time. It’s one of the most missional things we do.”