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Mission – Bible translations

June 2017

In 2016 Bible Societies assisted in the completion of translations in 61 languages, spoken by over 428 million people. According to Bible Societies, last year was ‘a first’ for no fewer than 30 languages, spoken by more than 95 million people. This means 17 communities now have their very first Bible, six have a New Testament, and seven communities have their first or additional portions of Scripture.

In a statement, Bible Societies explained that, as languages are constantly developing, the organisation is also committed to revising existing translations and providing new translations, when requested, to help as many people as possible engage with the message of the Bible today. In 2016 this resulted in a further 28 new translations and revisions, as well as three study editions, with the potential to reach more than 333 million people.

One particular area of concern is ‘sign language’. There are more than 400 unique sign languages spoken by 70 million people worldwide, yet the New Testament is only available in American Sign Language. This is an ongoing project.

Likewise, some 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide, of whom 40 million are blind. Yet, as a Braille Bible usually consists of more than 40 bulky volumes, making the transcription and production a significant undertaking, so far only 44 languages have a full Bible in Braille.