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Global: Bible now in 700 languages

October 2020

Senior chief holding up the Ellomwe Bible
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New translations of the Bible which have been completed this year means the Word of God is now available in 700 languages.

According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, while it is not possible to say which of the translations completed this year made the milestone, the fact that 700 translations now exist is indicative of the acceleration that is happening in the work of Bible translation.

Over the year, there have been several dedications of physical Bibles, as well as several being made available online and via apps, all at about the same time.

James Poole, executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, said, ‘This is such exciting news, and represents the tremendous work that Bible translators are doing across the world.

‘Every time we hear of the Bible being translated into another language, we know that, for the first time, the people in that language group can fully access the complete picture of God’s story.’

One such celebration took place in Malawi, where the first copy of the entire Ellomwe Bible was launched. Hundreds of people celebrated its arrival – five years after the launch of the New Testament in Ellomwe.

Senior Chief Nazombe (pictured), who received a copy of the new Bible on behalf of the Ellomwe community, said, ‘I am grateful to God that I can witness this in my lifetime’.

On the other side of the world, the Huichol (Wixáritari) Bible was launched in Mexico in July. One participant at the launch event said, ‘We are so happy to have the complete Bible.’

The New Testament was completed in 1968, and it has taken a further 52 years of faithful service by the Huichol Bible translation team to complete the job.

Around the same time, new additions to YouVersion (the online and mobile Bible app) included two Nigerian languages – a newly edited version in the Tiv language (which was first published in 1964) and the Igede Bible.

Mr Poole added, ‘It’s good to take a step back and realise what this 700th Bible means: 5.7 billion people who speak 700 languages now have the Bible in the language that speaks to them best.

‘That is a remarkable figure and continues to grow. However, there are still about 1.5 billion people who do not have the Bible in their language. That’s an injustice that Bible translation teams worldwide continue to work to put right.’

He expressed amazement that there was so much translation work going on that Wycliffe could not pinpoint which exactly was the 700th Bible, but said, ‘We live in exciting times, when the vision that all people will be able to read or hear God’s word in their language is becoming a reality.’