News – WBT 50 years old

ET staff writer
ET staff writer
01 November, 2010 1 min read

WBT 50 years old

On 1 September 1960, Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) officially began in the UK. The training of translators had been taking place in the UK since the early 1950s, but 1960 was the year in which Wycliffe UK (named after John Wycliffe, an early Bible translator who wanted people to learn about God in their own language) was formally recognised as part of a worldwide family of translation organisations.

In 1960 the world population was estimated at 3 billion and the best guess was that there were about 1000 languages that required a translation project of some kind. Today the population numbers close to 6.7 billion people, with around 6900 different languages in use.

Currently Wycliffe, in partnership with various organisations, is involved in 1300 Bible translation programmes, while another 2200 are waiting to start. WBT is now based on a 22-acre site just a few miles from High Wycombe. Students from around the world come to the centre every year for training, many of whom graduate with Master’s degree qualifications, awarded by the University of Middlesex.

In addition, around 350 personnel are associated with the UK operation, mostly working overseas. Eddie Arthur, Executive Director of WBT UK, says, ‘It is amazing to think that so many leaders in the world Bible translation movement have been trained and equipped for their roles in this quiet little corner of Buckinghamshire’.

In more than 70 years of history in all, WBT has been involved in the translation of 759 New Testaments and Bibles, reaching over 107 million people. Since 1999, it has contributed to over 80 per cent of translation projects started in Bible-less people groups.

However there remains a massive need, as there are around 353 million people from 2252 languages still waiting for translation to begin. (E-mail:

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