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How many Bibles have been sent to the moon? July 19, 2019

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation.
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This may not be a question many people are Googling even in the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, but the top answer I found was ‘100’ which is only partly right.

100 Bibles made it to surface of the moon in 1971 but over 1000 copies were actually sent.

After the death of astronaught Ed White along with Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Roger B. Chaffeeto, the Apollo prayer league was been founded in 1968 to pray for the safety of the astronauts, “And – most importantly – to land a Bible on the moon“.

You can read more of the story at www.apolloprayerleague.com along with 7 Myths and Misconceptions in which it was revealed that 512 Bibles ortbited the moon in Apollo 13 and another 512 were onboard Apollo 14, of which 100 went to the surface.

biblesociety.org.uk

Except when copies make it to auction, this “one small step for Bible distribution” goes largely unnoticed in the annals of history, but to be fair the Bibles were very small and only printed in English. It was perhaps surpassed in the 2014 when Bible portions were delivered safely to a comet. The Rosetta Probe included a small disc with 13,000 pages of information in 1,500 human languages – many of them being scripture portions.

When the first scriptures arrived on the moon the full Bible was available in less than 270 language. By 2014 that had risen to 531 and some scripture was available in nearly 3,000 languages. Today there are 3,380 languages with published portions of which nearly 700 have a full Bible.

Digital distribution of scripture is easier these days but people still risk there lives getting Bibles to places and to people hear on earth, and prayer is still a vital part of the mission.

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Does your Church Website link to an Online Bible? June 25, 2019

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, multilingualism.
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If you think the Bible is important it would make sense that your church website lets people know how to find one online.

The Bible is available online in a lot of languages (1900 versions in over 1300 languages on Bible.com and a similar number but slightly different mix on Bible.is), but a lot of people don’t know that until someone shows them.

Many people around the world speak multiple languages may benefit from accessing the Bible in more than one. This is often not just a matter of understanding but also of identity.

Depending on what type of web hosting you have you may be able to embed online bibles and other resources directly into your site but any church or personal website or blog site can link to online Bibles.

Bible.com is the Web version of the YouVersion Bible app

You can also link directly to any of the 1900 versions, or to one of the 50+ interface languages for the site eg Welsh, Spanish, Arabic, French. For more details see How to add YouVersion to your website . You Version also provides a Kids Bibles app in a smaller but growing number of languages.

Bible.is from Faith Comes By Hearing

Bible.is specialises in providing great recordings of scripture and the Jesus Film but they usually provide the text too! You can filter by country, language and version to find the ones you are looking for, and perhaps some you didn’t know were available! A new feature is the inclusion of filmed versions of each of the four gospels being rolled out over an increasing number of languages.

There are a lot of other options to choose from and a good number of great websites and tools. Which is one reason why I created 1000bibles.wordpress.com a simple website to point people to a few.

For example, Biblia has a wide range of plugins including Verse of the Day, Reference tagger, a Bible Search Box, and an Embedded bible with a choice of versions in English and a few other major languages. You can customize the size of the box, what version you start with and several other features.

Over 500 versions and 400 languages are offered by http://webtools.bible. You can customise their widget to just include the languages and versions of your choice (but it might be an idea to link to the full collection. A simple workthrough provides to code you need for your site but once again you need a host that allows you to add scripts (my free site doesn’t)

<script id="bw-widget-src" src="//bibles.org/widget/client"></script>
<script>
BIBLESEARCH.widget({
	"background": "F19317",
	"selected": "eng-ESVUK16",
	"versions": "eng-ESVUK16,eng-NLT,hwc-HWCNT"
});
</script>

So there you are. A few simple ways in which you, your friends, and your church website could link to a free online Bible. There are languages in which scripture isn’t online yet and languages in which translation is ongoing or needed. Supporting Wycliffe and other translation organisations (and those of us in them) can help fill the gaps. Telling people about what is already available via a simple web link or social media share can make a difference too.

Not just “the Church of English” March 4, 2019

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, worship.
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” whilst she loved worshipping with her sisters and brothers in her faltering English she always longed to worship in her own language. We had no resources then to help.” – a fragment from the sermon by the Bishop of Durham at the launch of a new Farsi Communion service.

The Bishop was relating an incident in 1994 at a point when Farsi resources existed and had long been used by the church in Iran but would not have easy to find in the UK.

Since 1994 the number of languages with a complete Bible have doubled to 692 and the number of languages with some portion of scripture has gone from 2100 to 3352. Many of these are available on Bible apps already installed on peoples phones across the world.

Official and unofficial translations of liturgy have also been part of the mission of the church for centuries. Portions of the Church if England’s Book of Common Prayer were translated into at least 200 languages. Many of these have been made available online in recent years.

How many clergy and church members know how to find and share these and other resources?

How much do we see language as a barrier to overcome without also recognising that language is also expression of identity? Even when the English is no longer “faltering” there is something special about connecting with God using the language of your childhood, especially if it is still the language you use most at home.

There are over 300 languages spoken by people living in our country. I believe more should be spoken and sung in praise of God in our churches and am beginning to collect and compile resources and ideas for simple steps in using languages other than English within churches in the UK.

Bible-less languages and Bible-less people July 9, 2018

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, multilingualism, Statistics.
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People often get confused as to why there is a difference between the number of languages that don’t have any scripture and the number of languages in which Wycliffe and others report that scripture translation needs to begin.

scriptureandneeds2017

I’m wondering if we sometimes need to be more careful to distinguish between “Bible-less languages” and “Bible-less people”.

The simplest public messages on the need for Bible translation continue to imply that people cannot understand or respond to scripture unless it is in their language but research over the last 40 years has taught us that there are in fact many barriers to engagement. Which perhaps explains why there are so many millions of people who own or could easily access a Bible in their main (or only) language but never read it.

Language can obviously be a significant barrier (this is why I’ve spent the last 22 years of life working with Wycliffe and others involved in Bible translation). Promotional material has often implied that people only speak one language really well. This is sometimes nuanced with the idea that people only have a single “heart language” through which God can clearly connect  to them.

Many people speak more than one language equally well. Some are spoken to in multiple languages from birth, others acquire them one after another as they move into education or as they move from one place to another. It can still be true that for people who speak several languages well, one or two touch them more deeply. Language isn’t just about intellectual understanding but also about emotional connection, identity, and even trust.

2017BTstats-enThere are 3,312 languages with some scripture and 1,636 languages where translation is estimated as ‘needing to begin’. (figures from Wycliffe’s last official global statistics in Oct 2017)

Those ‘translation needs’ might rise or fall depending not just on linguistic analysis but upon the felt needs of the speakers.

As our understanding of the issues of multilingualism continues to grow it may be that some of the need is for initial connection with the Bible rather than ensuring that what ‘we’ see as the most important bits around salvation and Christian living are translated first.

One old story that comes to mind is the impact of genealogies for some cultures. Something the translators saw as secondary to the ‘important bits’ but which gave the local people the connection they needed –  a list of ancestors pointed to Jesus being a real person, the length of the list pointed to him being a very important person. Suddenly mere stories became true! In Joanne Shetlers’ book, “And The Word Came with Power“, it’s interesting to note that while Bible translation had a major impact, this discovery came from looking at a Bible in a majority language.

Meanwhile, I once met a young British man who had tried reading the Bible before but didn’t understand it. I showed him a modern translation opened “at random” to include the bit about God loving the world and giving his son so that those who believed could have eternal life – all wrapped up in John 3:16. The key to him engaging was John 1:37, “They answered, “Where do you live, Rabbi?” (This word means “Teacher.”)”
“Hey this is great!”, my new friend said, “It tells you what it means.”

Although there are still many people who are unreached and unevangelised, there are also billions of people do have easy access to the “important” bits in languages of head and heart but they have yet to make it past their own obstacles and make the connections.


For anyone wanting to read more deeply about multilingualism I’ve just downloaded a draft copy of “Language and Identity in a Multilingual, Migrating World“. I’ve got lots more of it to read but recommend John Watters’ section on “The Language of the Heart”. 

BBC Pidgin and Pidgin Bibles September 12, 2017

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation.
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BBC pidgin news has arrived!

BBCPidgin - Meet the Team

You can click the picture to see an intro video of team with subtitles for those can catch the excitement but miss some of the words, because they don’t speak Pidgin.

Dis link na di home page of BBC News Pidgin wey you fit see all di news tori and gist from Naija, Africa and di whole world. 

PCMTSC

 

 Dis link for Good News in Nigerian Pidgin

 

The new BBC service launched on Aug 14th 2017. As languages, pidgins don’t always get good press, so this is good news, not just for speakers of Nigerian pidgin but for other speakers of other languages that have been looked down on.

Pidgins and Creoles are a vibrant mix of languages that emerge as trade languages taking in words and grammar from major languages (often of a foreign power) and from the local languages. Because of the similarity to the languages on which they are based they are often seen as broken English (or French, Dutch, Portuguese etc) rather than recognised as languages in their own right, and they are usually second languages, lacking the cultural ties and heritage of the main language of a people. But as their use continues they can often become the main language people use especially in urban areas.

They are rarely the language of literature, education and government but are instead the language of the street, of trade and of friendship between people from different backgrounds.

As such it’s no surprise that they can be great languages for the church, and also no surprise that not everyone agrees as to whether they are ‘holy enough’.

People often think that the Bible should sound like the King James Version, respectful, reverent and distant. Of course 400 years ago the language of the KJV didn’t sound ancient. It was fresh and contemporary and even scandalous to people would had only encountered the Bible in Latin.

It can be worth reflecting on what languages Jesus used. Did he teach people in the language of the government, of the religious leaders, or of the common people?

The New Testament in Nigerian Pidgin, was launched in 2012 and is available on several of the main multilingual Bible sites apps such as Bible.is and YouVersion both in print and audio. There is also a version of the Jesus Film in Nigerian Pidgin.

WESBSCAn audio version in Cameroonian Pidgin is also available and was launched in 2000

Elsewhere in the world there have been versions in Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea) , Solomon Islands Pidgin, Hawaiian Pidgin (Da Jesus Book), Jamaican Patois, and given that there are over 90 different pidgins and creoles, probably several that I don’t know about. (But might add here when I do).

The Bible is always good news when it is received in languages that people understand and use every day for sharing life. There will be some “feel good” stories on the BBC Pidgin team but much of the news will probably continue to be about lives turned upside down. Good news turns lives from downside to up.

 

Bible Translation statistics and stories November 28, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, Statistics.
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In the 20 years I’ve been with Wycliffe, scripture has been made available in over 1000 languages for the first time ever!

For 20 years I’ve been both looking at the numbers and hearing the stories of the people involved in translation and of those who receive God’s word for the first time.

If you want to take a look at some of the numbers, a guided tour through this info graphic may be helpful.

bibletranslationstats_prezi
Wycliffe UK’s latest magazine provides a glimpse into the some of the individual people and projects.
wfl_winter2016
My (Peter’s) role has changed a little over the last 20 years.
In 1996 only a small proportion of Wycliffe supporters were online but it was becoming important to look to the future and build websites and communities to help raise people and funds.

In 2016 not only do most people in the developed world interact via the web in whole new ways on their phones but so do many people in the communities we work with.I recently read of a community of 60,000 people in a “very isolated area of the Northwest Region of Cameroon”.

It took me less than 30 seconds to find a facebook group for this community with 4,400 members.

I don’t know how many of the communities we work with have people online but I think we are now at the stage when more do than don’t.

Jennifer’s contribution has morphed over time too, although always centered around coaching an empowering others in their management and strategic leadership. Currently she is leading the HR thinking around the growth and development of staff, how the organisation can learn, develop and change more effectively and how staff supervisors can better provide guidance and support for their staff.

Working with Wycliffe means that we rely on financial support of churches and individuals (we’re required to raise 110% of of our income). Click here if you would like to donate or find out more.

New Bible Translation Statistics 2016: When is translation finished? November 19, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, Statistics.
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Some scripture is now available in 3,200+ languages and the number without anything started is falling. So when will the task of Bible Translation be finished?

progress-2016aMany people  think the publication of a full Bible marks the end of translation, but this is rarely the case.

In August, a press release announced, “Beginning in the summer of 2016, the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged” Fifteen years after it was first published this was a bold move not only implying that the text can no longer be improved but that the meanings of the words won’t change either. It was to have been unchanged “in the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769)” … 158 years and countless revisions after it was first published in 1611.

In September the publisher made another bold move and reversed the decision, acknowledging that it had been a mistake.

Unfinished

active-programs-progress-and-needs

for more numbers and more explanations see wycliffe.net/statistics

Of the 636 languages in which there is a translation of the complete Bible, 303 of them are known to have ongoing translation work of some kind. Some are being revised to cater for changes in language or improvements to style or translation, in others entirely new versions are being translated.

Some people oversimplify the ministry of Bible translation and link it to the return of Christ implying that when translation is finished in the last language Jesus will return. Some even imply that he won’t return until the Bible (or at least some of it) has been translated into all 7000+ known languages (including ones where no one speaks them as their main language any more).

The truth is languages will continue to change, revisions will be needed and translation will continue until Christ returns. But we do know that at least 1700 more language communities have needs right now for Bible translation to begin. Even then the goal is not printed text or online products but people encountering and engaging with the living God through scripture.

Celebrating 1000 (and 3000) languages with scripture August 23, 2016

Posted by P, J, or J in Bible Translation, Statistics.
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You Version have just sent an email declaring that “The Bible App is the first app in history to offer 1000-languages-email text content in 1,000 languages!” …which makes a good headline even for those not impressed by the fact that scripture is available in an app in so many languages.

I’d mentioned in an earlier post that Faith Comes By Hearing was approaching the same milestone of having audio scriptures available in 1000 languages.

I also said that 2016 would be the year that marked publication of at least a portion of scripture into the 3000th language. This week I may learn whether that has already happened. Of course publishing scripture doesn’t always mean people know it exists even for those that are online. Often announcements on the facebook pages of YouVersion and Faith Comes By Hearing are met by requests from people wanting to see scripture available in their language only to be told that it already is.

Translation and publishing are vital steps towards promotion, distribution, and engagement with scriptures.

Meanwhile, far too many people are still in that ‘small’ percentage of the world’s population who still have no published portions of the Bible in their language. Many have translation work in progress, some communities have decided for themselves that they can access what they need in another language, but many still don’t even know what they are missing

…and too many of us don’t appreciate what it is we have!

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