Frequently asked questions (FAQs)


Why is Bible translation so important?

Because the Scriptures are essential for evangelism, discipleship, and church growth. Jesus told His followers to take the Gospel to all the world, but there are still hundreds of language groups which don't have God's Word in their mother tongue – the language they understand the best. History shows that there has never been a strong indigenous church without the translated written Scriptures used by indigenous leaders. Missionaries from every mission and denomination depend on Scriptures in the language of the people with whom they work to make a lasting impact.    

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How long does it take to translate a New Testament?

From first writing down a language to printing a complete New Testament it can take 5 to 20 years, depending on many factors such as closeness of language to an existing translation, technology, the ability of the local people to help in translation, living conditions, health of the translators and their other responsibilities. While a few people are involved from start to finish many others add vital input throughout the process.   

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Where is work being done?

In more than 70 countries in 1600+ languages, on all continents except Antarctica! A large portion of the work in the Americas has been completed, but in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, there are more than 2,500 language groups needing translations.

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How many people are involved?

Internationally there are hundreds of thousands involved. For example, the Church through Wycliffe has more than 7,000 people from over 70 countries directly involved and they are supported financially and in prayer by well over 100,000 individuals, families and churches.

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Who and what is involved in Bible translation?

Teamwork. There are many different roles and areas of expertise. Surveyors carry out initial research to establish translation needs. Working alongside local people, work is done where needed to develop an alphabet for each unwritten language, analyse the grammar, produce primers and teach the speakers to read. Literacy specialists help train others in order to establish ongoing literacy programmes and encourage widespread use of the language in written form. Linguist/translators oversee the actual translation work and pass on their skills to local people. Other people specialise in encouraging scripture use. And of course, there are support workers, such as secretaries, teachers, accountants, computer technicians and programmers, mechanics, pilots, printers, media personnel and many others.

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What initial training would someone need?

One needs the level of training and orientation to equip the person for the role that he/she will be taking. Some roles just require you to be able to use your existing skills in a cross-cultural context. Others require specialist courses. One provider is ETP (the European Training Programme of Wycliffe). More training courses at SIL.

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Where can I get copies of Bibles in other languages?

Bible Societies in many countries are able to supply published editions. UBS United Bible Societies provides links to Bible Societies worldwide.

No Frontiers is a supplier of Bibles and other resources in over 100 languages.

Lifewords (formerly Scripture Gift Mission) International provides a number of shorter scripture booklets.

Campus Crusade can provide the JESUS film in many commonly spoken languages in a country (and can order it in lots more). You may need to find your local office.

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"whom shall I
send? And who
will go for us?"

Isaiah 6:8

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