Eddie and Sue Arthur

Bible Translation: A Bit of a Rant

On my Google home page, I have a search for any blogs which mention Bible Translation, I also have a similar thing running on twitter. This means that I get regular updates on what people are saying about Bible translation across the Internet. I’ve not done a scientific survey, but my guess is that the Bible translation traffic breaks down more or less as follows.

  • Discussions of the translation methodologies of English versions – 30%
  • Comparisons of the various English translations – 35%
  • Discussion of the LOLCat Bible – 25%
  • Translation into minority languages that don’t yet have the Scriptures – 10%

As I say, this is not scientific, but it can’t be far wrong. I could break it up further and point out that much (perhaps the majority) of what passes for discussion of translation methodologies is ill informed and shows a clear lack of understanding of the subject.

It may surprise you that the statistic (guess) which bothers me least here is the one for the LOLcat Bible. Yes, it trivialises the Bible and I would rather not do that, but essentially these people are just having fun and not trying to make a Christian point. Basically, they have too much time on their hands, but they are mostly harmless.

What really bothers me is that so much Christian energy is devoted to discussion of the Bible in English when we still have two thousand languages spoken by two hundred million people without a word of Scripture (full statistics here).

Yes, I know that this is my field of ministry and interest,but it frustrates me that people can’t see that while we argue about the finer points of the ESV and NLT, so many people don’t have any Scripture. We are like rich people arguing about the finer points of different caviars when there are people starving outside our houses. I don’t say that people should stop talking about English Bibles. But if serious Christian writers would just append a few lines about the need for translation worldwide to their posts about English (or LOLcat for that matter) it would make so much difference.

If you don’t know where to start – take a look at the Wycliffe UK page or find the appropriate page for your nationality here. The need for people around the world to have access to the Scriptures is a serious one and should concern every Christian but sadly, judging by web traffic, it doesn’t seem to be.

It’s a shame.

Rant over – normal service will be resumed soon.

This post is more than a year old. It is quite possible that any links to other websites, pictures or media content will no longer be valid. Things change on the web and it is impossible for us to keep up to date with everything.

4 Comments on “Bible Translation: A Bit of a Rant

  1. That’s not a rant. That’s a wise plea.I myself have often failed to keep proper perspective though I know part of my heart yearns to help bring local language translations of Scripture to those who don’t have one. I personally thank you for the slap to the back of the head 🙂

  2. A Wycliffe missionary asked me what sort of software the LOLcat website was built on so that he could do a similar thing with his languages – collaborative editing, not a local LOLcat dialect. srsly

  3. Pingback: Participatory Bible Study Blog » Abundance of English Translations but …

  4. Hey Eddie,

    Thanks for your reminder. It prompted me to write a post outlining the lack of Bible translations around the world and some simple things that anyone can do to be a part of the solution. Even if we don’t have Hebrew or Greek we can support people who are doing translation and we can educate people of the desperate need. I hope you will check it out and let me know your thoughts.

    http://churchethos.com/2009/07/01/the-problem-of-choosing-a-good-bible-translation/

  5. I also do a google alert for that – and I agree, totally.

    Often I will comment on those kind of posts and remind them of the thousands of people groups without a single word translated into their language.

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