23 November, 2009

Unreached People Groups Everywhere Rejoice over New NIV Translation

From the deepest recesses of South American Jungles to the coldest corners of Siberia, native people groups everywhere are rejoicing over the latest announcement that the English-speaking world will be spending millions of dollars for yet another English translation of the Bible. The excitement erupted after Zondervan Publishers announced that it would be making a major revision and update to its New International Version, first released in 1978

"Our goal is to put the NIV into modern English so that people born after 1988 can understand the Scriptures," said Ronald Overbeck, head of research at Zondervan. "We're going to spare no expense to make sure we update the archaic terms and references so that people can read the Bible clearly and easily."

Celebrations erupted throughout the world at the announcement. In some parts people took to the streets for celebrations that went on for days.

"This brings much joy to our hearts," commented Elena Namaeeva, a native Sakha from the Far Eastern Siberian region of Yakutia. "We just got the New Testament in our Sakha language about 3 years ago. We are waiting anxiously for the Old Testament to be released, though they tell us it could still be a while because of a lack of funding. But I'm so happy for our American friends that they will have yet another Bible in their language."

"We are happy for our brothers and sisters in the English-speaking world and rejoice with them," said Amin Modu of the Kanuri people of Nigeria. "While 4 million of my people are still waiting on the complete Bible in our language, it always brings joy to our hearts to know that the Americans will be spending millions of dollars to have yet another Bible in the English language."

With over 100 known complete translations, English Bibles by far dominate the world of Bible publications.

"If you just think of the number of people out there born after 1988, it's staggering" noted Overbeck. "This is virtually an unreached people group in and of itself, a whole generation of x-box playing college dropouts still living with their parents who can't understand the Bible because it's so archaic and hard to read. I think it's high time someone reached out to them."

The revision is expected to take 3 years. Incidentally, there remains some 200 million people worldwide who do not yet have a Bible in their own language.


Penn Tomassetti said...

Wow... eye opening.

Nathan said...

Wow. I don't think I ever thought about that. People need the Bible SO much more than we do. Yet more and more for us it so seems!

Jim Pemberton said...

Add to that English dialects not covered. We're focusing here on American English, but there's British, Australian, Indian, etc. The post-1988 crowd talked about here are Americans only. Odd for a Bible called the New INTERNATIONAL Version.

But there certainly are people who don't have the Bible in their mother tongue. To be fair, most of these people speak more than one language and most speak at least one language where there exists a Bible translation. However, many of these people are not particularly literate - poly-glottal yes, but particularly literate no. What I've seen much need for is Bible teachers and small-scale (one-on-one or small group) discipleship around the world. That's where we need feet on the ground with the scriptures being translated into individual lives.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brassingtons said...

A couple of related cartoons on Bible translation at http://brassingtons.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/pies-more-pies-and-statistics/

RobinsonS said...

The amount of people being born after 1988 is rapidly increasing, so pleased they are not being forgotten.


S said...

I don't usually comment on this blog, but would like to correct something said by Jim Pemberton.
In stark contrast to what you said, Sir, most of the minority peoples who lack a Bible translation in their own language do not have ready access to the Scriptures in their second or third languages. Even for those who do have physical access to second language Scriptures the jump in understanding with unknown vocabulary usually makes the task of understanding impossible.
Having done Master's level research in bilingualism in the developing world I can confidently assert that the point that this TBNN satirical post is driving at is, in fact, very real and alarming.
There are currently around 2000 people groups without any access to the Bible in their mother tongue. Many of these are remote tribes (say, in Papua New Guinea for instance) who have absolutely no opportunity to access God's word in any language. The situation is very serious.
As Christians, we need to step out in faith and tackle this problem in the area that God calls us to. For most of us that means supporting frontline missionaries through finances and prayer. For others, we will end up in the field doing the hard work of mission joyfully for the glory of God. Please deeply consider this issue and how you will respond.
S, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Asia.

Jim Pemberton said...

I certainly don't disagree that we need the Bible translated in all these languages. I live relatively close to JAARS and have had some contact and association with them over the years. I'm sure some of my friends from my time at Columbia International University have joined Wycliffe. It takes a lot of time and resources, but is a very necessary thing to do. The advent of the computer has certainly helped to speed things up a bit. It's been nearly a couple of decades since the card box was the best available method.

But there is a difference between a translation in a secondary language existing and actually having it available for a people. I think I was talking about one and you were talking about another. Larger regional trade languages are covered like French for Africa or Tagalog for the Philippines. There's Hindi and English for India, but most people speak more local tongues and dialects primarily albeit with a bit of linguistic mixing.

Anyway, while there are plenty of small-population isolated people groups, like the Yukpa Indians, whose languages need translated, the majority of people do have consistent external socioeconomic exposure. While some of these, like some of the Philippine villages, may still need Bibles in their mother tongue, they have translations that they can learn from or be taught from.

I'm headed back to India this summer for just this purpose. We're holding a pastor's conference, helping local pastors with some evangelism and introducing them to a method of discipleship the materials of which are available locally through Campus Crusade. Some in the slums, although multilingual, are not very literate - and I don't know of a translation in their local tongue although they have at least translations in English and Hindi. So that's where I'm coming from.