A new milestone has been reached as the Bible has been translated into its 700th language.
The milestone is indicative of the acceleration that is happening in the work of Bible translation – to the extent that it is impossible to state which translation was technically the 700th, as there were several launches of physical Bibles as well as several being made available online and via apps, all at about the same time.
"This is such exciting news, and represents the tremendous work that Bible translators are doing across the world," says James Poole, Executive Director of Wycliffe Bible Translators. "Every time we hear of the Bible being translated into another language, we know that means that for the first time the people in that language group can fully access the complete picture of God’s story."
Having the Bible available in 700 languages means that it is accessible to 5.7 billion people who speak those languages, Poole says.
"That is a remarkable figure and continues to grow. However, there are still about 1.5 billion people – that’s roughly one-in-five – who do not have the Bible in their language. That’s an injustice that Bible translation teams worldwide continue to work to put right."
Wycliffe says that while it's difficult to tell which translation was for certain the 700th, there are several recent dedications recently that might have been the 700th, "and that sum up the joy and celebration that comes with a newly translated Bible."
The Huichol (Wixáritari) Bible was launched in Mexico on July 10. One participant at the launch event says, "We are so happy that we now have the complete Bible, the Old and New Testaments." The New Testament was completed in 1968, and it has taken a further 52 years of faithful service by the Huichol Bible translation team to complete the job.
In contrast, the Ellomwe Bible was launched in Malawi just five years after the Ellomwe New Testament was published. Hundreds of people danced and sang to celebrate the launch of the Bible. Senior Chief Nazombe, who received a copy of the new Bible on behalf of the Ellomwe community, says, "I am grateful to God that I can witness this in my lifetime."
Around the same time, new additions to YouVersion (the online and mobile Bible app) included two Nigerian languages – a newly edited version in the Tiv language (which was first published in 1964) and the Igede Bible. James says: ‘It’s amazing that there is so much Bible translation going on that we can’t pinpoint the 700th Bible. We live in exciting times when the vision that all people will be able to read or hear God’s word in their language is becoming a reality.’