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Bible translation progress 2018: looking beyond 2025 October 26, 2018

Posted by P, J, or J in Statistics.
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At the end of 1999 Wycliffe and it’s partners launched Vision 2025, part of which said:

“We embrace the vision that by the year 2025 a Bible translation project will be in progress for every people group that needs it.”

That powerful soundbite wasn’t the whole of the Vision 2025 statement any more than the great commission and the great commandment is the whole of the Bible’s message.

While the need is still great, the amount of work currently in progress is impressive.

Matrix-complex

(Chart from FAQ sheet accompanying new annual Bible translation statistics at wycliffe.net/statistics).

But the goal of starting work is not enough. In some languages work started, and then stopped. Those that stopped (for now) without any scripture having been produced have been added back into the current calculation of need for initial translation. Other languages may have had selections or even a full New Testament for five, ten, or even a hundred years and nothing since. Is that enough?

It is people not languages that need the Bible so it is not as simple as saying that the entire Bible needs to be translated into every language on the planet before everyone can understand.

But it is clear that many people would benefit from more of the Bible in their main language, or from updated translations, or additional scripture products. And while some scripture exists in 3350 languages, that doesn’t mean that everyone who speaks (or signs) those languages know that the translation exists, or where to access it, or why it matters.

It isn’t enough to start work. Another important fragment from the Vision 2025 statement

“Our desire is to build capacity for sustainable Bible translation programs and Scripture-use activities.”

from the Vision 2025 statement, 1999

Bible translation doesn’t just need to start, it needs to continue. Engagement is the goal – individuals and communities engaging with God, and people becoming not just converts but disciples – knowing, and showing what it means to love both our God and our neighbour.

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