One Among a Thousand – Interpreting in Christian settings

Andrew Owen

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‘If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness.’ Job 33:23

Although there are many interpreters in Christian settings, often working as volunteers, there is very little in print to help them. This is therefore a must-read volume. A ground-breaking book, thought-provoking and encouraging.

The author demonstrates that the Bible offers:
 * A command to interpret in church
 * A model of a church interpreter
 * A church interpreter’s code of ethics
 * A method for interpreting in church
 * A case-study on the attitudes and moral fortitude required of a church interpreter
 * A code of practice for church interpreting

Much practical help and assistance is gleaned for those interpreting spoken and signed languages. Counsel is also offered primarily for sign language interpreters for:
 * Interpreting the public reading of Scripture
 * Leading and interpreting traditional hymns
 * Interpreting through the medium of text.

Andrew Owen is a Communication Support Worker, working in London colleges and universities. He is responsible for the large Deaf Fellowship at the Metropolitan Tabernacle (Baptist Church) in central London and trains both spoken and sign language interpreters.


Welcome to the world of the church interpreter. It is a gigantic stride away from the secular dogmas of neutrality, impartiality, invisibility and professionalism, perceived keystones of interpreting. Rather, church interpreters have a duty to be personally affected by the themes being interpreted; they are required to be Christians first and interpreters second; they are natural interpreters, people who have rarely received training in how to interpret; they are voluntarily stepping up to the mark and are serving the Lord with spiritual commitment and enthusiasm.

Assurance from the Word of God

 Yes, church interpreting is very different from the norm, and church interpreters, knowing this by instinct, carry on despite feeling unease when professionals view them with a mixture of curiosity and condescension. But there is no need for church interpreters to suffer because there is much assurance from the Word of God, which tells us that they are doing the right thing. This volume aims to encourage and support those church interpreters who may be suffering with more than their fair share of unease. The question must be asked, should church interpreting principles spring from the Word of God, or from mainstream theories and popular secular practice? Although the secular professor’s classroom yields a multitude of interpreting paradigms, the church interpreter would do well to mine the scriptures, so this volume digs there.

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