More than 500 of the world’s 7000 plus languages have a full Bible. And there are nearly 1,300 languages with the New Testament.
This leaves more than 4,000 languages with no Scripture in their language at all. Much work still remains to be done.
In 2013 Bible Societies helped make the Bible available in 18 more languages with the potential to impact more than 15 million people.
This was ‘a first’ for ten languages! Seven of these ten languages now have a full Bible, one has a New Testament and two have new portions. The remaining eight languages into which translations were completed in 2013 received new translations or revisions to help communicate God’s Word in a way that is more easily understood for people today.
Thanks to our supporters, and working in collaboration with other Bible Societies, we’re working to address this need and make the Word of God accessible to more people everywhere.
As a member of the United Bible Societies (UBS), Bible Society New Zealand supports and contributes to UBS translation work worldwide.
Through sponsorship of translation projects and assistance to translators, UBS makes the Scriptures more accessible to people of different nations and cultures. Together with Bible Societies around the world, including New Zealand, UBS are currently translating God’s Word into more than 450 languages.
As part of this UBS launched a special campaign in 2013 - 100 Bibles in 1000 days. UBS identified 100 full Bibles that could be completed by the end of 2015. These included 43 First translations, 27 new translations and 30 revisions. By the end of last year, 67 of the 100 Bibles had completed the translation stage with 19 published and 48 in pre-production or printing. This leaves 33 Bibles left to complete.
“Bible Societies exist to open the inexhaustible riches of sacred Scripture to all.” – Pope John Paul II
New Zealand translation projects
Bible Society New Zealand is currently involved in three translation projects in New Zealand.
Te Rongapai a Ruka - our latest Maori Bible
More than 60 years after the current Māori Bible was published, Bible Society New Zealand published Te Rongopai a Ruka 2014 - two brand new sample translations of the Gospel of Luke in Māori.
The publication has three columns of biblical text featuring the two new sample translations, as well as the current edition first published in 1952, for comparison. There is also a fourth blank column for reader's feedback notes. The idea is to stimulate wider discussion within the Māori community on which translation style is more suited to today's Māori speakers.
Copies of Te Rongopai a Ruka 2014 are now available for sale for $9.99. Call us to order on 0800 424 253.
Watch the short film – A vision of a new contemporary Maori Bible.
Reformatted Maori Bible
In 2012, Bible Society New Zealand published a reformatted edition of Te Paipera Tapu. This new edition includes the current Paipera Tapu text (first published in 1952) with enhanced presentation including the addition of macrons to indicate long vowels, modern punctuation including speech marks and paragraphing, book introductions, section headings and maps. The New Testament with the enhanced text (alongside the Good News Bible text in English) is also available.
Meanwhile the journey to a full contemporary Māori Bible suitable for younger Māori speakers is underway with the publication of Te Rongopai a Ruka 2014, the first step.
The Tokelau Society for the Translation of the Bible initiated a project to translate the Bible into the Tokelauan language in the 1990s. The Gospel of Mark was published in Tokelauan in 2000, and the four Gospels in one volume in 2003. Then at a spectacular celebration at the Tokelauan Church in Porirua, the New Testament was launched in June 2009.
This is the first New Testament ever produced in the Tokelauan language. The translation team, headed by Ioane Teao, is based in Porirua.
Work is continuing on the Old Testament, with the complete Tokelauan Bible likely to be ready in another 8 years.
Watch the celebrations and hear more about the project.
Worldwide translation projects
Here are just some of the hundreds of translation projects Bible Societies are involved in and some of the projects supported by Bible Society New Zealand.
Kiwi helps Urak Lawoi in Thailand
Watch this short film to follow Kiwi Translation Consultant Dr Stephen Pattemore as he helps the Urak Lawoi people in Thailand translate the Bible into their heart language.
Kimyal New Testament launch in Indonesia
The Kimyal people of the Eastern Highlands of West Papua, Indonesia have finally received the New Testament in their heart language. The translation project, which took decades, culminated in joyous rapture at its launch in March 2010.
Read more about this great event.
Watch the film of the launch ceremony.
Unspeakable Joy in Ecuador
This short video captures the excitement of Ecuador's Quichua Cañar people as they welcomed the publication of the first complete Bible in their language in March 2011. In a powerful declaration of their Christian faith, 3,000 Quichua Cañar people took part in a celebratory parade, ending in an emotional church service where they read from their new Bible and reflected on the impact it will have on their community.
The Quichua Cañar Bible is the result of 20 years of work and was published by the United Bible Societies in Ecuador.
Watch the video.
As a little girl, Mrs Bala wanted to learn to read and write, but owing to her family’s poverty she was unable to. Now, at the age of 75 she has been attending Bible Society literacy classes at the Chourkhuli Church of Bangladesh in Kotalipara in southwestern Bangladesh.