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By Bill Gardner with Richard Gretsky

Many people think that Bible translation has been a recent phenomenon that really only started in the last 150 years or so. But the reality of Bible translation’s history might surprise you.

Bible Translation Through the Ages - John Wycliffe

Bible translation actually began even before Jesus was born! Around 200 B.C. many Jews were living in Egypt where they no longer fluently spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, but instead spoke Greek as their mother tongue. (Egypt had been conquered by Alexander the Great.) Since the Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew with a few sections in Aramaic, they decided to translate it into Greek, beginning with the Torah (the five books of Moses). This Greek Old Testament became known as the Septuagint, and was used widely among Jews and then among Christians. In fact many of the quotes in the New Testament are from the Greek Old Testament.

At first the early Christian church used the Greek Old and New Testaments. But after a couple centuries, people decided they needed the Bible in their own languages, so the whole Bible was eventually translated into some of the most widely spoken languages in the world (i.e. Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, etc).1 But as those languages changed over time (e.g., Latin became various Romance languages like French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish), their translations became archaic, “holy” translations, which most people no longer understood at all.

After another 1,000 years a second major wave of Bible translation happened, around the time of the Reformation. While John Wycliffe had earlier translated the Bible from Latin into English, William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale translated the Bible into early modern English from Greek and Hebrew. Around that time, Martin Luther did the same for German and others did so for Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.2 With the invention of the printing press in the early 1400s, people could more easily access, read and understand the Bible. It led to transformation in individuals, communities and societies all across Europe.

The third major wave of Bible translation began about 200 years ago. During the 19th century, God’s Word was translated into almost 500 languages all across the world.1 The 20th century saw the birth of Wycliffe Bible Translators and other Bible translation organizations, and significantly saw more than 1,000 new Bible translations. And the pace of Bible translation has continued to increase during the 21st century.

Bible Translation through the Ages - Africa

Today, we have the honor and privilege to participate in a movement that God has been orchestrating for centuries. By serving, praying, and fiscally supporting the work of Bible translation, we truly make a difference.

Let’s all work together so that soon all people groups can hear God speak to them in their own language.
[1] Silzer, Peter. “An Overview of Bible Translation Through History.” Lecture, Biola University, La Mirada, 2005.

2 Scriptures of the World: A Compilation of the 1,946 Languages in Which at Least One Book of the Bible Has Been Published since the Bible Was First Printed by Johann Gutenberg. London: United Bible Societies, 1990. 41.

Keeping Up With Kate

We hope that by now you’ve met Kate and Mack, your kids’ newest friends at Wycliffe. In the last few months they’ve been traveling all over the world — in their new A to Z book, in “12 Days of Christmas” and most recently in “Praying Around the World.” But did you know that you can also travel with them on a bi-weekly basis?

That’s right! Kate likes to send her friends updates about the latest adventures she and Mack have taken, and there’s no easier way to do that in the 21st century than through email, right? These “Keeping Up With Kate” emails make it so easy to stay connected, and it would be a shame for you to ignore this chance to sign up right now.

When you sign up for “Keeping Up With Kate,” your kids will begin hearing from Kate and Mack a couple times a month, and each time you’ll receive a fun activity to do together. (And the great thing about these activities is that kids can often do them on their own, moms!) If you sign up today, you’ll be ready to start #FunFactFebruary with us soon. We’ll be sending you a PDF of seriously awesome fun facts for you to share with your kids every day in February. And chances are, your kids won’t be the only ones learning something!

So what are you waiting for? Don’t you want to keep up with Kate?

 

P.S. If you ever have a question for Kate and Mack, or maybe even an idea of some place you want them to travel, feel free to write them at kate_mack@wycliffe.org. They’d love to hear from you!

“Then Jesus said, “‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:29-30, NLT).

Word

Photo credit: The Worship Project

Pinterest collage

Now there’s a brand new way to connect with Wycliffe USA. Our Pinterest boards are designed to help you live and raise your family with purpose, and stay connected to God’s mission for Bible translation. You’ll find resources like:

 

  • Practical tips for traveling with and without kids, flying overseas or taking road trips.
  • Quotes and Bible verses to encourage and inspire you.
  • Kid-friendly lessons and projects that are fun and encourage learning about missions, the Bible and so much more.
  • Recipes and fun facts about food in cultures around the world.
  • Products we love that are fun and make life a little easier.
  • Statistics about Bible translation and missions.
  • Gift ideas you can buy or make yourself.

 

We’re always updating with more exciting and helpful ideas and resources. Visit us on Pinterest to see for yourself. Know someone who’d find this useful? Don’t forget to share with your friends.

 

Take me to Wycliffe USA on Pinterest!

A teacher teaches a class of children how to read and write.

Photo by Zeke du Plessis

 

This class of boys and girls from the Central African Republic sits and listens to their teacher as she shows them how to read and write in Gbeya, their native language. Literacy is an ever-important factor in the lives of people around the world, and classes like these are stepping stones for future successes. Once people know how to read and write their own language, not only are they empowered and enabled to excel in their work, but also the Word of God is opened to them in a powerful way — clearly, in the language they understand best.

To learn more about the effect of literacy in the lives of people, check out this video of one of our projects in Senegal or visit our website to find out how you can get involved directly with the Gbeya translation project.

By Melissa Paredes

“I want you in full-time ministry,” God told him.

This calling came out of the blue for Steve. After all, he was enjoying his life and work as a band and choir teacher near Spokane, Washington. He and his family had a great community of friends, and they even saw themselves staying in Spokane long-term. But it seemed God had other plans for them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen recalling the day he heard God’s voice, Steve admits he was hoping for more details from God. After all, he didn’t feel qualified spiritually, and his particular gifts didn’t seem to fit the mold of full-time ministry. Steve thought about possibly going to Bible college to further his education, but that wasn’t something he really wanted to do — he’d already received an education and loved what he did! He was confused by God’s call and didn’t know what it meant for him and his family.

A year later, Steve happened to meet a Wycliffe recruiter who told him about the remaining need for Bible translation in almost 2,000 languages. But Steve still didn’t see where he fit. “There’s no way I could be a Bible translator!” Steve shared. And isn’t that what he would have to do if he worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators?

But then Steve learned something exciting — something that seemed to answer that haunting question of where his gifts fit in ministry. The recruiter told him that Wycliffe needs teachers, particularly for missionary kids. Even music teachers!

This news struck a chord with Steve. He had a set of gifts and qualifications that could be used right away, and in full-time ministry!

So in 2006, Steve and his family moved to Papua New Guinea where he now teaches at Ukarumpa International School. And through teaching, Steve’s making a difference in the lives of his students, their families and even those who are still waiting for the Bible in their own language.

Steve Blake 1

“I’m helping God’s Word reach new places, new hearts,” Steve shared. “It’s cool to hear parents say, ‘We wouldn’t be missionaries here if it wasn’t for the school.’ These parents are able to focus on translation, literacy and other work because they know their children are being given a solid education.”

And it’s true. When people like Steve use the gifts God has given them for his glory, they’re contributing to the work of Bible translation. Every role is important in this work — even teaching music to missionary kids. It’s just a matter of faithfully answering God’s call when you hear his voice.

How well do you know the Bible’s most familiar verses? Play Wycliffe’s Verse Scramble and find out!

Our new online game is free to play and will test your skills whether you’re a Bible guru or new to the Word. Test yourself against the clock and against other players around the world. When you’re done, you can share the game with your friends!

A $1 donation will be made on behalf of the first 10,000 people who complete the game. It’s available for a limited time, so play now for a fun and easy way to support Bible translation, compete with friends and learn more about the need and impact of our ministry.

Scramble

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