You probably won’t find a Hallmark card for Bible Translation Day, but it’s nonetheless a good opportunity to think about an important topic. Christians believe that God has preserved the text of the Bible throughout the millennia. But how often do we think about the countless men and women—scholars, translators, missionaries, and others—that God has used to carry out this remarkable act of preservation?
Bible Translation Day grew out of an idea by Wycliffe founder Cameron Townsend; in 1966, the United States Senate designated September 30 as the holiday (September 30 is the feast day of St. Jerome, an influential early Christian famous for his translation of the Bible into Latin).
So what can you do to celebrate Bible Translation Day? It’s probably too late to organize a massive parade through your city’s downtown. But here are a few alternate ideas:
1. Try out a new translation of the Bible. Most of us tend to stick to a particular Bible translation that we particularly enjoy. However, there’s much to be gained from giving other Bible versions a look from time to time—different approaches to translation often capture the nuances of Scripture text slightly differently, and can give you added insight into a Bible passage’s meaning and significance. Just for today, take a step out of your comfort zone and read a different translation!
There are many Bible translations available on Bible Gateway—use the drop-down menu on our homepage to browse through them, and pick one that sounds interesting. You can also read more than Bible translation side-by-side to make it easier to compare different translations of a particular Bible passage—click here for a step-by-step tutorial.
2. Learn about the significance of Bible translation. Faced with all of those Bible translations—dozens in English alone!—it is natural to wonder why there are so many translations rather than just one “official” one. Are some translations better than others? What’s the point of having many different translations? Pastor Mel Lawrenz has written an excellent short beginner’s guide to Bible translation. It’s a good place to start.
3. Learn about the most famous Bible translator in church history. I’m referring to Jerome, the man responsible for the important Vulgate translation of the Bible. Read about his translation work here. If you’re feeling bold, you can take a look at the Vulgate translation itself here at Bible Gateway.
4. Educate yourself about the ongoing work of Bible translation today. The work of Bible translation has not ended; it continues, not only in the major languages of the world, but in countless languages and dialects that are waiting for a translation. Wycliffe, with its close connection to Bible Translation Day, is a good place to start; they’ve just posted an overview of Bible translation throughout history at their blog. Of course, Wycliff isn’t the only organization at work translating the Bible—talk to your pastor to find out if your church works with any translation organizations.
Enjoy your Bible Translation Day!
[For links to websites and Twitter handles, see our blogpost Bible Translation Organizations]