Nida Training Strengthens ABS-Catholic Ties

For a six week period from early October to mid-November 2013, the Rev. Dr. Philip H. Towner, Dean and Executive Director of the Nida Institute, taught courses at three Pontifical universities in Rome as part of a UBS-ABS collaboration with the Vatican for training and research in Biblical and translation studies.

This commitment to cooperation with the Vatican can be traced back to the Institute’s namesake himself, Eugene A. Nida, who directed ABS translations from 1946-1984 and first lectured at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (PBI) in 1971. In 2009, Rev. Dr. Towner was appointed to continue this relationship for ABS and UBS, teaching at the universities on a biennial basis. 

In 2013, through the offices of Valdo Bertalot (General Secretary of the Italian Bible Society), the arrangement which formerly involved just two universities – PBI and Urbaniana University – was expanded to include a third, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Rev. Dr. Towner then spent the fall teaching Advanced Exegesis of the Pastoral Letters to post-graduate students at PBI, and A History of Bible Translation and Translation Theories to those at both Urbaniana and the Angelicum. 

The incorporation of Urbaniana and the Angelicum into the relationship first established with PBI reflects the growing influence and presence of the Nida Institute in the context of Roman Catholic Church biblical and translation scholarship. In addition to the current arrangement, the Institute is also in the process of developing, for the Apostolic commission, a complete training program for Roman Catholic priests who will be assigned to translation projects in various Catholic contexts throughout the world. Both initiatives are supported by the Nida School of Translation Studies, a charter member of the San Pellegrino University Foundation based in Misano Adriatico, Italy.

The impact of the Nida presence in this scholarly collaboration can be anticipated by imagining where this year’s 50 postgraduate students, many of whom are destined for key leadership roles in the Roman Catholic Church, will be 10-15 years from now. The strategic value of this Nida activity for ABS and UBS interconfessional relations and for the strengthening of our partnership in the Bible cause is immense.