Bible Translation

The mission of the Canadian Bible Society Translation Group is to serve the Church in Canada and internationally wherever there are communities requesting Bible Translation or Revision. We have three main areas of focus:

  1. Canada’s indigenous languages and peoples, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit
  2. Canada’s diaspora peoples from around the world; Punjabi, Persian, Cantonese, etc.
  3. International Bible Translation projects where we can have impact

Areas of focus in Translation

Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

Our priority focus is on Canada’s indigenous languages and peoples, where we seek to serve local communities through helping Bible translation / revision projects get started and succeed. We have active projects among the Cree in Saskatchewan (Plains Cree) and among the Inuit people of Nunavut (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun). We do this through training community members in Bible Translation skills, and assisting projects with planning, management, quality control, and fundraising. We only begin work when we are invited by an indigenous church or community. We honor and value local initiative and community involvement and we participate in projects with communities and not FOR communities. In our Canadian context, Bible Translation projects frequently have components of language revitalization, rights advocacy, and engagement activities like literacy. [Read more about our ongoing and completed projects]

Canada’s Diaspora Peoples and Languages

Our second priority is serving the thriving immigrant community churches in Canada, who may want to revise older scripture publications or undertake new translations. We will work with Church pastors and community leaders to identify needs for scripture revision or first translation. The Punjabi Christian community in Western Canada in Partnership with CBS has recently begun revising the Common Language (CL) scriptures originally published in 1978. The felt need to correct long-standing errors and omissions in the CL was broadly felt in Punjabi Canadian churches, and a broadly-based stakeholder group emerged to champion this revision project.

International Bible Translation

While our main focus is on Canada, we also will serve Bible Translation initiatives world-wide, especially where our specialized expertise in certain language families can increase impact. For example, we have a large and complex Old Testament Project in Alaska, in an Inuit language closely related to our Canadian Inuit languages. We had a conference a few years ago where all the Inuit Bible Translators from Canada, Alaska, and Greenland came together to share stories, training, and inspiration from across the Arctic.

The need for Bible Translation across the globe is staggering. There are thousands of languages in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific where scripture translation is needed. We expect to be involved directly in international projects in the future, especially as the United Bible Societies looks in implement its ‘Road Map’ for addressing the world’s remaining Bible Translation needs. CBS will play a role in the remaining global Bible translation task. [Read more about our International Projects]

Our Skills and Activities

  • Bible Translation / Revision Training: we go into communities and provide training in Bible Translation and Bible Revision principles and practices. Any community can invite us to come and help them with translation needs assessment, or to get a new translation project started, or to revise an existing translation.
  • Digitization of old Texts: We will take old printed Bible Texts, some from the 1800s and have them keyboarded into the software package used by Bible Translators worldwide. These old texts are thus preserved for posterity, or they can be (re)printed, used for research, or revised, according to the needs of the community.
  • Project Management: we help communities plan, manage, and execute complex Bible Translation projects, some with multiple partners, multiple sites, and multiple translation teams.
  • Final Approval of Bible Translations: Our expert Translation consultants will carefully check translated texts against the Greek and Hebrew original documents, and ensure that published scripture meets worldwide Bible Society standards in terms of faithfulness to the original languages and manuscripts of the Bible.
  • Typesetting: Once a digital text is fully approved for publication by our consultants, it goes to our Typesetter to be laid out as a book or booklet. The modern software tools used for typesetting are complex and challenging, but our experts can produce beautiful scripture products. These can be printed in small runs digitally by local printers and distributed quickly. We can even handle especially complex jobs like Study Bibles.
  • Digital: Bible texts are digital objects these days. Bible texts from many languages in the world can be read online on phones and tablets through specific Apps like YouVersion (and many others). The Bible texts we translate are made available digitally to the world through the Digital Bible Library. Some apps allow you to listen to a recording of the text, while the text scrolls and is highlighted!
  • Orality and Recording: We believe in making a recording of every Bible text that we translate or revise. These digital audio Bible recordings can be downloaded, made into DVDs, distributed on USB drives, or played on cassettes! These recordings allow the Word of God to be heard where literacy is not yet established or where the spoken word is preferred over the written word.

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