The full Bible has now been translated into 700 of the world’s 7,300 languages. The milestone is indicative of the acceleration that is happening in the work of Bible translation – to the extent that it is impossible to state which translation was actually the 700th, as there were several launches of physical Bibles as well as several being made available online and via apps, all at about the same time.

Christians in Malawi celebrate completion of the Ellomwe Bible.

“This is such exciting news,” says James Poole, executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators in the UK. “It represents the tremendous work that Bible translators are doing across the world. Every time we hear of the Bible being translated into another language, we know that means that for the first time the people in that language group can fully access the complete picture of God’s story.”

Globally, portions of God’s Word have been translated into more than 1,100 languages, while 1,548 languages have access to the full New Testament.

‘It’s good to take a step back,” says Poole, “and realize what this 700th Bible means: 5.7 billion people who speak 700 languages now have the Bible in the language that speaks to them best. That is a remarkable figure and continues to grow. However, there are still about 1.5 billion people – that’s roughly 1 in 5 – who do not have the Bible in their language. That’s an injustice that Bible translation teams worldwide continue to work to put right.”

Although it’s uncertain which translation was actually the 700th, there have been several dedications recently that might have been the 700th. They sum up the joy and celebration that comes with a newly translated Bible.

The Huichol (Wixáritari) Bible was launched in Mexico on 10 July 2020. The New Testament was completed in 1968, and it has taken a further 52 years of faithful service by the Huichol Bible translation team to complete the job.

In contrast, the Ellomwe Bible was launched in Malawi just five years after the Ellomwe New Testament was published. Hundreds of people danced and sang to celebrate the launch of the Bible. Senior Chief Nazombe, who received a copy of the new Bible on behalf of the Ellomwe community, said: “I am grateful to God that I can witness this in my lifetime.”

Around the same time, new additions to YouVersion (the online and mobile Bible app) included two Nigerian languages – a newly edited version in the Tiv language (which was first published in 1964) and the Igede Bible.

“It’s amazing that there is so much Bible translation going on,” says Poole, “that we can’t pinpoint the 700th Bible. We live in exciting times, when the vision that all people will be able to read or hear God’s word in their language is becoming a reality.”

Source: wycliffe.org.uk

Link: Wycliffe Global Alliance translations statistics (Oct. 2019)

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