Millions of Christians Without Bible in Their Mother Tongue
Scripture Translation Makes Progress — Mission Far From Accomplished
By Wolfgang Polzer
Special to ASSIST News Service
READING (ANS) — The efforts to make the Bible available in every mother tongue are making progress. But the mission is still far from accomplished.
According to the United Bible Societies (UBS) in Reading, England, the number of languages into which at least one complete book of the Bible has been translated reached 2,426 at the end of 2006. The total number of languages is estimated to be around 6.500.
Approximately 95 per cent of the worldâ€™s population theoretically have access to Scripture in a language they can understand, although not necessarily their first language. The remaining five per cent add up to 300 million people.
Completed translations in 23 new languages and dialects were registered in 2006, while over a ten-year-period the number has risen by some 260. Along with three new Bibles, the 2006 Scripture Language Report lists 31 new New Testaments, of which five are the first recorded Scripture publications in those languages.
Additional Scripture Portions were registered for 34 languages, which do not yet have either an Old or New Testament, and for 21 languages, which have the New Testament but not the Old.
In 26 other languages in which translation and publication have already taken place, new or revised versions of Portions, Testaments or Bibles are now available.
Some of the language groups with new Bible translations are relatively large. Until last year the approximately one million speakers of Munukutuba in Congo (Republic) could only read the Bible in either French or Kikongo.
In Papua New Guinea many people walked for up to 35 miles to attend the launch of the New Testament in Kobon, spoken by around 10,000 people. That is a relatively large language group within this island nation of more than 800 languages.
The report records each Scripture translation carried out by UBS or another translation agency, which is received at the library of either the American Bible Society or the British and Foreign Bible Society.
UBS is involved in more than 500 translation projects worldwide and spends some US $ 11 million a year on translation.