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The Trinitarian Bible Society (TBS) made exciting progress during 2014

March 2015

In the past six months, the New Testament in both Shona and Thadou has been published, as well as John’s Gospel in Chinese (web-only edition).

The following Scriptures are due to be published within the next 12-18 months: Bible in Farsi/Persian, Norwegian and Romanian; New Testament in Mongolian and Spanish; John’s Gospel in Farsi/Persian, Amharic and Chinese (print edition); and Matthew’s Gospel in French.

The following languages have a Scripture project which has seen progress over the last six months: Amharic (Ethiopia), Eastern Armenian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Dan/Gio (Liberia), Farsi/Persian (Iran), French, German, Greek (modern), Hebrew (modern/biblical), Maltese, Mongolian, Ndebele (Zimbabwe), Nepali, Norwegian, original (biblical) languages, Romanian, Russian, Shona (Zimbabwe), Simte (India), Spanish, Tagalog, Thadou (India), Turkish, Waray-Waray (Philippines) and Welsh.

The following languages are being explored for the possibility of Scripture translation work: Abkhaz, Catalan, Chichewa (Malawi), Dakota, Hindi (India), Hungarian, Lisu (Burma/China), Japanese, Kalenjin (Kenya), Pokot (Kenya) and Polish.

Here is more detail on some of these individual languages:

Armenia

The 93,000 copies of the new setting of the Armenian John’s Gospel, printed by Bearing Precious Seed with funds from First Bible International, are being actively distributed within Armenia, as this report from Armenian Ministries illustrates: 

‘We are currently in our sixth week of children’s camp. We’ve had a considerable number of new children this year who have had no contact whatsoever with the gospel, so we are hoping that some seed will be sown and bring fruit.

‘We are giving each child a Gospel of John before they leave, which could mean for many, it’s the first time their families have had a portion of the Word of God in their homes’. We pray for the Lord’s continued blessing on his Word to the people of Armenia, who generally live in great poverty.

China

For a number of years, the TBS has been endeavouring to prepare a new, faithful edition of the Bible in Chinese. 

During the initial years of this project, it was anticipated this would be achieved by revising the Chinese Union Version (CUV). However, at the revision conference that took place in the USA in April 2014, the two Chinese men working on this project submitted that it would be better to undertake a new translation into Chinese from the original Hebrew and Greek, rather than continue attempting to revise the CUV. 

This was agreed and the Chinese Bible team have worked diligently in this fresh direction. It is with great thankfulness to God that, as the first fruits of this project, the newly translated Chinese John’s Gospel has recently been approved by the General Committee for web publication. TBS welcome feedback from Chinese readers on this new edition that can be accessed through the TBS website.

The translation team have moved on to translate Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

Liberia (Dan/Gio)

Contact with the team in Liberia has been sporadic, not helped by the current situation in that country where a 90-day state of emergency was declared in response to the Ebola outbreak. 

However, a recent update mentioned they had completed the corrections and proofreading of Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts, and most of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, John and Galatians. Ephesians, Colossians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians are currently being typed up.

Iran (Farsi/Persian)

We are thankful to have finalised the newly typeset edition of the Farsi John’s Gospel for publication, using the latest revised text. 

The print-ready file has been sent to Bearing Precious Seed, to print 50,000 copies of the Farsi John, with printing paid for by First Bible International.

Further, though slow, progress has been made in recent months on the revision of the whole Bible: the digital linguistic and textual revision of the New Testament is now complete; and much of the linguistic revision of the Old Testament carried out. 

A good number of proofreaders are contributing enthusiastically to the project. Most of the New Testament and some of the Old Testament have been proofread, and the comments received are being evaluated and incorporated as deemed appropriate. 

The main reviser especially needs our prayers, as he has significant demands on his energy and time arising from other significant responsibilities, including a busy pastorate. We remain hopeful that the whole Farsi Bible might be published within the next 18 months.

Kenya (Pokot)

A TBS edition of the Pokot New Testament was produced several decades ago, but we have not been at liberty to republish, as it was found to require some improvement — as is often the case with first editions of the Scriptures. 

In the past two years a church in Kenya has established a revision committee, so that a more accurate edition of the Pokot New Testament could be prepared and published in due course. 

They believe they now have the personnel to work on the project, but there is as yet an unmet need of support for those individuals who wish to carry out the work. It is expected the project will take 3-5 years to complete.

Romania

The preparation of the third edition of the TBS’ Romanian Bible is nearing completion. The revision team there are currently incorporating changes agreed with the review team in Australia, both in the Old and New Testaments. 

The complete text of the Bible should be finalised early in 2015, agreed and approved, and then typeset ready for printing. God willing, the entire Bible will be published by the end of 2015.

Russia

Our work on digitising the text of the TBS Russian Bible continues. Thus far, the digital text of the four Gospels, Acts, James, 1 and 2 Peter and 1, 2 and 3 John has been prepared. It is hoped this text can be used to produce new, more legible settings of the Russian Scriptures, as the image on the current editions is beginning to break down and lose legibility.

Spain

Since 2006, TBS has been engaged in a detailed revision of the 1909 Spanish Reina-Valera Bible, with reference to the underlying biblical Hebrew and Greek texts, the original 1602 Reina-Valera Bible and other Reformation-era Bibles. 

The work also involves ensuring the Spanish language employed conforms to current international standards of orthography and syntax. Over the years, the number of men working on the executive translation committee has risen to five, and reading committees have been established in six different Spanish-speaking countries. 

There is now a dedicated Spanish TBS website, and conferences are regularly held in different parts of South and Central America, where there is enormous interest in the project.

It is hoped that revision work on the New Testament will conclude next year, with publication before the end of 2015. Work on the Old Testament is also underway, with Psalms and Proverbs mostly complete.

Africa (Swahili)

It is estimated that there are 30-50 million Swahili speakers, of which 5 million are believed to be mother tongue speakers. Swahili is an official language in Tanzania and is spoken in at least eight other African countries. It is also spreading geographically as a second language for many people in a large part of eastern Africa.

The TBS continues to pray that the Lord would equip, prepare and bring men into contact with the Society, who can undertake a revision of the 1952 Swahili Union Version Bible.

Philippines (Tagalog)

Tagalog is spoken as a first language by 25 per cent of the population of the Philippines, and as a second language by the majority. Its standardised form, officially named Filipino, is the national language and one of two official languages of the Philippines, the other being English. 

There is currently no good Bible in this language, and as the TBS receives frequent requests for a Tagalog Bible, we pray that our Waray-Waray translator will be helped in the tremendous work of translating the Tagalog Bible, alongside his work of translating the Waray-Waray Bible. Thus far, he has made a small beginning in John’s Gospel.

Turkey

In 2002 the TBS published the Turkish John’s Gospel, and this has since been reprinted twice. Subsequently, our Turkish contact made separate arrangements for the printing of the New Testament. 

For the past two years we have been pleased to be back in close touch with this person, who is in the process of revising the Old Testament. He uses the Turkish Bible of 1956 as his basis (the Kitabı Mukaddes) and makes reference to the Hebrew Masoretic Text, as he updates the language and ensures closer conformity to the underlying Hebrew. 

Thus far he has reached the book of Ezekiel. His work on the earlier books of the Old Testament is steadily being typed up.

Wales

The British and Foreign Bible Society have supplied us with the orthographic revision of the William Morgan Bible text, which brings the spelling and grammar up to current accepted standards of the Welsh language. 

We are now seeking to build a team of native Welsh people, who can help us proofread the text and check that it meets our standards of accuracy and faithfulness

Adapted from a recent report