Bible Translation for the Punjabi Diaspora in North America
‘Punjabi’ refers to those who speak the Punjabi language, and share a cultural heritage of roots in India and Pakistan. Most of the speakers are in the Punjab region of India (29,102,477) and Pakistan (76,335,300), but there is also a diaspora of 10,000,000 worldwide.
In 2017, Punjabi Churches in Western Canada approached the Canadian Bible Society with a request to revise the Punjabi Common Language (CL) Bible. The Punjabi CL Bible was translated by the Bible Society of India (BSI) in the 1970s and bears a resemblance to the English Good News Bible, in terms of style.
Translations need updating and revising as biblical studies advance, languages change over time, and the church’s needs evolve in response to changing times. In consultation with Punjabi Christian churches and communities, it emerged that there were two distinct felt needs with respect to the Punjabi Scriptures:
- A need to update the existing Punjabi Common Language (CL) version by correcting the various spelling mistakes and inconsistencies, and by fixing serious omissions in the text.
- A need for a far-reaching revision of the Punjabi CL in the direction of a more formal, literary text.
In terms of #1, the light revision, one pastor describes the problem:
“There is no digital text available in Punjabi CL for my congregation to follow along while I preach. That’s why I decided to retype the passages that I need and then project them, however, the Punjabi CL text has so many small errors which need to be corrected. Hope we can resolve this issue soon with the help of the group that is working on the project.” — Punjabi Pastor Balwant Bedi in Calgary
The pastor is correcting the text passage by passage as he preaches! This is the need that the ‘updated’ CL is addressing. Further afield, God is bringing many Sikhs (the core religion of Indian Punjabis) to faith in our day, and the more formal, precise revision could be a key component in the evangelism and formation of many Sikh people who are finding faith in Jesus Christ.
This project will be implemented in three steps:
Phase 1. Digitization of the whole Punjabi CL Bible text, currently underway through the combined efforts of the Bible Society of India and the Canadian Bible Society. The digitization will be completed in 2021.
Phase 2. As digitized books become available, CBS is working with the Punjabi church in Canada to produce a corrected, updated version of the Punjabi CL text. We have published revised versions of the Gospels of Luke and John so far, and made the text and audio recordings available in the YouVersion Bible app. The revision of the New Testament could be complete before the end of 2021, with work on the Old Testament to follow.
Phase 3 (provisional). If the revised CL version and other Punjabi Bibles currently available do not meet the needs of the Punjabi church in Canada, we will explore the idea of more extensive revision or new translation.
PRAY WITH US
Please join us in praying for this project:
- Pray for wisdom and divine inspiration for the Punjabi translation team as they work on this project.
- Pray for God’s provision so that this project will finish on time.
- Pray that the revised Punjabi Bible(s) will be a blessing to the Punjabi churches and communities.
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