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Millions needed for new Bible translations

At a meeting in Ondangwa earlier this month, church leaders convened to discuss a strategy for new translations of the Bible in indigenous languages. The director of the Bible Society, the Reverend Barnie van der Walt, and the technical advisor, Gerrit van Steenbergen, stand in the back row on the right.

At a meeting in Ondangwa earlier this month, church leaders convened to discuss a strategy for new translations of the Bible in indigenous languages. The director of the Bible Society, the Reverend Barnie van der Walt, and the technical advisor, Gerrit van Steenbergen, stand in the back row on the right.

For more information, or to get involved in this project, feel free to contact Dr. Schalk Botha, the Programs Manager from the Bible Society of Namibia at 061 235 090.

Shortly after the arrival of new stock of the Bible in Oshikwanyama and Oshindongo, the Bible Society of Namibia realised these existing translations are outdated requiring new translations especially for younger readers. But translating the whole Bible is an arduous task, taking many years and millions of dollars.The Bible Society held a meeting on Monday 4 August to discuss the need for new translations of the Bible in both Oshikwanyama and Oshindonga.  The meeting was held in the North with church leaders and representatives from various churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Churches amongst others. The church representatives realised the limitations of the current literal (word by word) translations in Oshikwanyama and Oshindonga and confirmed the need for modern translations. Three independent studies were conducted over a number of years (1999, 2011 and 2013) to determine whether or not such new translations are needed.  All of the studies showed that a definite need (especially under the youth) does exist for meaning-based translations which will be easier to understand in today’s context.

The three studies were conducted by Dr. Gerrit van Steenbergen a translations consultant from the United Bible Societies (1999), a Church leaders’ workshop held in Okahandja (2011) and by Linda Jordan, a linguist from Wycliffe Bible Translators (2013). The Bible Society said earlier this week it can only start with a new Bible translation if a formal request is received from the churches involved.  Depending on the churches’ decision and the availability of funding the translation project may start as soon as 2017.  It is estimated to cost around N$25 million and will take roughly 14 years to complete. The Bible Society of Namibia, the Bible Society of Angola and Wycliffe Bible Translators will partner together with churches and various sponsors to make these translations a reality.

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