The Inuttut Heritage Bible – Ten Volumes Now Under One Cover
Happy Valley Goose Bay, Labrador Happy Valley Goose Bay, Labrador – Last week the Inuttut Heritage Bible was presented to the Moravian Church in Labrador. This new edition of the Bible in the Inuit language has been made available, more than 200 years after the translation was first begun.
The Moravians began their work in Labrador in 1771. Among the tasks undertaken by the early missionaries was the translation of portions of the Bible into the native language. It was a slow process, beginning with collections of verses, and then the Gospel of John, followed by Luke. Fifty years after the establishment of the settlement, in 1821, the British and Foreign Bible Society published the entire New Testament. From there followed a gradual translation and publication of the books of the Old Testament. In the end there were 7 separate volumes, but never a complete text under one cover.
The New Testament was reissued in 1952, but because of errors and different word usage from the vocabulary of two centuries ago, new work was needed to make a complete collection.
Translator, Andrea Webb says, “We had to think of our children and grandchildren and those of us who are elders who have been working on the Bible walked away knowing we’ve done our part, and it’s up to them; they can pick up the Bible from here and teach their children and keep the Bible alive for us and enjoy the work that someone else did.”
In 2005, the Moravian Church and the Canadian Bible Society partnered to correct and edit the current Inuttut Bible so that it could be printed in one complete volume. With the help of volunteers and seasoned translators, who were willing to commit to this important project, the work began. Andrea Webb, Sarah Townley, Sophie Tuglavina, Hilda Lyall, and Amos Onalik conducted the work along with Hart Wiens and his team from the Canadian Bible Society.
Translator Sabina Hunter says that the new Heritage Bible presents new opportunities. “I think now that we have this Bible it’s certainly going to present some new opportunities to use God’s Word in other aspects not just the church. Certainly our local government has been using the Bible for swearing in and the Bible is also used for Moravian daily readings. To have the Bible available to them for these things is good and not only that but it preserves the language.”
It once took 10 bulky volumes, but now the entire Bible in the heart language of the Inuit of Labrador is under one beautiful cover – the Heritage Bible.
CBS Director of Scripture Translation, Hart Wiens says, “The Inuit of Labrador were obviously enthusiastic about having the ten bulky volumes of their Bible so easily accessible now under one cover. They came from communities all along the coast. When I greeted one elder, he took my hand and kept repeating, ‘I was not going to miss this!’ Later in the dedication service I noticed him again, lost in worship and moved to tears as he expressed his gratitude to God for this great blessing. How blessed we are to be able to serve the Inuit people in a way that demonstrates how much God cares about them – enough to communicate the message of His eternal love in their own language.”
This celebration is about so much more than simply making the Bible accessible in a language Inuit people can understand with their minds – it is about connecting God’s Word with the soul of every person and celebrating the fact that God cares enough to reach out to everyone of us where we are. This work is at the heart of what the Canadian Bible Society does in Canada and around the world – sharing The Word. For Life.
About the Canadian Bible Society:
The Canadian Bible Society (CBS) has been in existence for more that 100 years, to promote and encourage, without doctrinal note or comment – translation, publication, distribution, and engagement with the Scriptures throughout Canada and the world. Because the Bible’s life giving message of forgiveness, justice, and hope is needed to transform the lives of people everywhere, CBS distributes Scripture resources in English, French, and 100 other languages.