To make the Word of God available to all people, we begin by translating the Bible into a language people can understand.
The Scottish Bible Society is a founding member of the United Bible Societies – a collection of Bible Societies operating in over 200 countries and territories. Together, we are the biggest translator, publisher and distributor of the Bible in the world.
A new record in Bible translation may have been set in 2014 for the highest number of new Scripture translations published in one year. According to the 2014 Global Scripture Access Report published by United Bible Societies, last year Bible Societies helped to complete translations in 51 languages spoken by more than 1.3 billion people (1.2 billion Chinese speakers and 146 million speakers of other languages.)
Some of these translations were launched in countries facing significant challenges. In Nigeria, for instance, where militant Islamic group Boko Haram carried out more deadly attacks than ever before, the Bible Society launched four new Bible translations. One of them, the Bura Bible, was completed and launched in December, despite a Boko Haram bomb attack on the Bura Bible translation office in September. All of these were first-time translations, potentially giving 2.1 million Nigerians access to the full Bible in their heart language for the first time.
Liberia, too, faced enormous difficulties last year, losing more people to Ebola than any other affected country, but the Bible Society there launched two first-time full Bible translations. The Bible in Kpelle and Southern Kisi, spoken by nearly a million people, arrived at a time when people needed God’s Word in their language more than ever before. But Southern Kisi speakers, most of whom live in the worst affected area of Liberia – Foyah District in Lofa County – delayed their celebrations until January 2015, when the situation had stabilized.
That day they forgot about Ebola and came out in great numbers to march in celebration of the first Bible in their language.
Paul Stevens, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Liberia
These launches in Nigeria and Liberia were among 30 ‘first-time’ translations published across the world last year in languages spoken by nearly 10 million people. 18 language groups received their very first full Bible, 10 received their first New Testament, and two received shorter portions of Scripture for the first time.
The Global Scripture Access Report also indicates that a significant milestone was reached last year in the number of Scriptures in the Digital Bible Library®* – one of the world’s largest collections of digitised Scriptures. With the addition of Scriptures in around 200 languages in 2014, it contains just over 1,000 Scriptures in 816 languages. These Scripture texts are made available to the public through partners such as BibleSearch and YouVersion.
We are excited by what was accomplished in Bible translation in 2014. It is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the translation teams and the commitment of Bible Societies and local communities. Many of these translations have only been made possible by the generosity of supporters around the world, for which we are truly grateful. Please continue to pray for the translation teams, from all Bible translation agencies, working to bring God’s Word to the communities they serve.
Alexander M. Schweitzer, United Bible Societies Head of Global Bible Translation
*The Digital Bible Library® is owned and maintained by United Bible Societies in partnership with other Bible agencies and with the support of Every Tribe Every Nation.