No, it isn't, but it can be adapted for translating the Bible.
The StoryTogether process includes many activities that are part of Bible translation.
- It involves reading and/or hearing stories from the Bible in one language and telling them in another language.
- It gives careful attention to key terms in the biblical passage.
- It draws on suggestions that respected Bible translation organizations have developed for dealing with the various linguistic challenges that arise in putting biblical content into the languages of the world.
- It utilizes techniques for working with multiple languages in a single workshop that The Seed Company, a Bible translation organization, developed for its translation projects.
- It does community testing of the stories to make sure that they are effective.
- It utilizes the process of backtranslation to evaluate and, if necessary, correct the biblical stories that teams produce.
- It requires that someone with theological training review the biblical accuracy of the stories that teams produce.
- It produces high-quality audio recordings of the biblical stories that can be used in a variety of ways.
It is certainly possible to use the StoryTogether process with somewhat different guidelines that would result in it being a component of a Bible translation project. IMB and The Seed Company have partnered in projects designed to produce both audio recordings of crafted oral Bible stories by using this process which then led into a written translation project. The Seed Company co-sponsors other projects that use their process from which the StoryTogether process was adapted, for producing oral Bible stories and for training Bible storytellers as part of a larger Bible translation project. In those instances the correct answer would be, "Yes, this is a helpful component to a Bible translation process."
But as IMB more often practices it, we do not think of the StoryTogether process as being Bible translation per se. We think of the stories that result from this process as being a form of biblical proclamation, not Bible translation. That is, they should be evaluated by the standards one applies to preaching or teaching. We expect the stories to be highly accurate (far closer to the words of Scripture than any sermon); in fact, we have a step in which we verify that every assertion in the biblical story is justified by Scripture. But the stories are crafted with the experience of storytelling in mind, not with a focus on their being a translation.
As local people put the Bible story into their own storytelling style, they shape the story in ways that may not follow translation standards, especially the standards of those who prefer a formal equivalence approach to Bible translation. (Formal equivalence seeks to preserve the lexical details and grammatical structure of the original language.) These departures from strict standards of Bible translation, however, may be part of telling the story effectively in their cultural storytelling style.
- ST teams may re-sequence the events of the biblical story to follow patterns of development that their culture uses when telling a story. In a Kenyan culture, the storyteller begins by summarizing the story in one sentence. For example, "This is the story of how David defeated the giant Goliath, cut off his head, and delivered Israel from the Philistines." In that culture they end their stories with the same one-sentence summary they began with. This is not how the Bible usually tells its stories, but it is how people in certain cultures expect a good story to be told.
- ST teams may use repetition of certain key sentences or key phrases, which makes for good storytelling in their culture, but which is not, strictly speaking, the wording of the Bible itself. The Bible may say the phrase or sentence once, but in their story the team may use that same phrase repeatedly. This is especially common in cultures where storytelling involves a mix of speaking and singing.
- Storytellers sometimes convert indirect speech into direct speech in order to make a story more vivid and emotionally engaging. For example, in the story of the Gerasene demoniac, Mark says, "As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him" (Mk. 5:19 ESV). ST teams have frequently said in their stories, "As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged Jesus: 'Jesus, please, please let me go with you!'" Note also how for clarity the storytellers use "Jesus" instead of the pronouns "he" and "him" and use the repeated "please" to add bring out the pleading quality of "begged."
- At times, good storytelling requires that the storyteller make explicit in the crafted story information that is only implicit in the biblical story. For example, Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan does not explain what a Samaritan was. He did not need to explain that; his audience knew about Samaritans and the animosity between them and the Jews. When people do not have a printed Bible, with its marginal notes and footnotes to clarify this kind of information, then the storyteller may make this information available to his listener by making the implicit information explicit in the story. So, a storyteller might say, "Along came a despised Samaritan," where the adjective "despised" gives today's listeners a basic understanding that Jesus' listeners had on that occasion. Whenever feasible, we prefer to give background information and explanatory information before we tell the story itself, rather than include it within the story. However we sometimes make the implicit information explicit within the crafted biblical story itself.
In addition, in some StoryTogether projects, the stories may be based on one passage of Scripture, but may include selected details from other passages of Scripture that discuss the same event. For example, no biblical author includes more than three of Jesus' seven sayings from the cross. But a storyteller might want to include all seven when she tells the story of Jesus' crucifixion. Drawing from multiple passages can make the told biblical story more factually complete, easier to understand, or more meaningful, but the resulting crafted story is not Bible translation per se. Every assertion in the crafted story will be biblically anchored, but the crafted story may draw from more than one biblical passage. Sponsors of a StoryTogether project could choose not to take this step; they may have good reasons to insist that each crafted story be based on a single passage of Scripture. This is acceptable in a StoryTogether project whenever the local situation makes this seem advisable.