Bible Translation

Languages are living entities that go to the core of who we are. Because they change over time, the work of Bible Society translation departments is never done, to ensure that all peoples, languages, and nations have access to God’s Word with a text that clearly transmits the full meaning of God’s message.

Worldwide there is still much work to do, as most languages in the world do not yet have even a first translation of the Bible. At any given time, the average number of active translation projects around the world numbers about 650. Most of these are first-time Bible translations in that language. This work is facilitated by partnering with speakers of the language, churches, theologians, linguists, and other local entities.

Overwhelming evidence shows that Scripture speaks most powerfully when people have it in their first language. Hearing the Bible ‘our way’ brings the Word of God to life for each of us. Often, a Bible translator will have to balance translating the meaning and message of the text, with focusing on replicating, as closely as possible, the words and phrases of the original text.

In recent years, here in Canada CBS has published the Labrador Inuttut Heritage Bible, the Ojibwe Bible with a partial Old Testament, the Eastern Arctic Inuktitut Bible, and the Atikamekw New Testament. Scripture portions in about a dozen other native Canadian languages have been sponsored by CBS and additional work is currently in progress in several of these languages.

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Thousands of Canadians speak indigenous languages and many Canadian indigenous peoples are developing programs to revitalize language use in their communities. In some instances very few published materials are available, in print or in audio formats. Having the Scriptures translated and published both contributes to the survival of the language and provides a foundation for further literary activity.

Women holding Bibles

Picture this: there are a confirmed 7,100+ languages in the world. The Scriptures are translated in 2,500 of these languages. It seems like we’re making progress, but if you look closely, the Bible – as a whole - is translated in 511 languages only. This means that 2,139 are reading only from the New Testament or portions of the Bible (mostly, the Gospels). Millions of people have not heard the story of Joseph or Esther, nor read the words of the prophets quoted in the New Testament.