Translation: What happens first?

I asked OneVerse how they decide what to translate. The Bible is huge and it seems overwhelming to translate it all. Where do they start? Is there an order for which books of the Bible are translated first? Or is it all based on the needs of the people group? So I asked how it all works and found out a bit more than helped me see how personalized and how huge the task is for the translators.

Jonathan at OneVerse explains they “design translation projects to begin translating Scripture portions based upon the needs of Christian ministries and churches working within the people group. Some situations may call for strong evangelism materials at first because few Christians exist. In those situations, we will often translate the gospel of Luke and the script for The Jesus Film. The Jesus Film and the gospel of Luke are used to introduce the people group to Christ. In other situations, the church has been around for maybe a century because of missionary work (in Africa for example) but the understanding of the Christians is very limited. In these situations, we have been asked to design a project where one of the gospels is translated, then Acts and the Pauline epistles.

“Once we have identified the scope of a translation project – what books of the Bible and verses within those books will be translated – the sequence in which those verses are translated is different for each language. The differences are primarily the result of the skills of the national translators. Narrative texts are more easy to translate than poetry, for example.”

While funding for the Rutara (the language group Team OneVerse is currently funding) is now in Matthew, according to their project plan, the gospel of Mark has already been translated and the team is also working in 1st and 2nd Timothy, 1st Thessalonians, and Titus. It’s exciting to know that Team OneVerse can be part of this translation work!


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