In 2017, United Bible Societies (UBS) (@ubsbible) assisted in translating the Bible or Scripture portions into 49 languages spoken by more than 580 million people, as reported in UBS’ Global Scripture Access Report 2017 Annual Progress.
According to the UBS report, 2017 was a ‘first’ for 20 languages spoken by over 14 million people. Seven communities received the first full Bible in their language, four received their first New Testament, and nine communities received their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.
Because languages change and develop over time, UBS also revises existing translations or provides new translations, when requested, giving new generations the chance to meaningfully engage with Scripture. In 2017, this resulted in 26 new translations and revisions, plus 9 study editions, with the potential to reach more than 566 million people.
Reaching People with Visual Disabilities
In 2017, Bible Societies in 32 countries ran Braille projects to meet the Scripture needs of blind readers. Two languages received their first ever portions of Braille Scripture: Luganda (Uganda) and Khasi (India). A further four languages received additional Braille Scriptures: Oshikwanyama (Namibia), Kinyarwanda (Rwanda), Armenian (Armenia), and German (2017 Luther Bible).
Sign Language Scriptures for Deaf Communities
Bible Societies are currently involved in 26 active sign language projects, with ten more in the planning and preparation stages. This work has the potential to impact 12.9 million deaf people. Seventy-million deaf people use sign languages as their ‘first’ or heart language. But only 10% of the more than 400 unique sign languages that exist have any Scripture, and those that do have very little. No sign language has the full Bible; American Sign Language comes closest, with the New Testament.
Scripture Access Today
Each year UBS compiles data from Bible Societies and progress.Bible™, to present the global status report of Scripture access. At the end of 2017, there were 7,097 languages in the world spoken by over 7.6 billion people (data for first language speakers does not currently equal the current world population). 674 languages, spoken by nearly 5.4 billion people, now have a complete Bible and a further 1,515 languages, spoken by 631 million people, have a New Testament. This leaves 406 million people with only some portions of Scripture, and a further 209 million people with no Scripture in their language.
While great strides have been made in Bible translation, much work still lies ahead to provide some portion of Scripture to the 209 million with no Scripture at all in their language and to increase the amount of Scripture for the 1 billion people with only part of the Bible. UBS is working towards the day when everyone can access the full Bible in the language of their choice and is currently working on over 400 translation projects around the world.
“The Bible for everyone: this is the mission that drives us forward in everything we do, and Bible translation plays a central role in that as we seek to serve churches of all denominations,” says Michael Perreau, UBS director general. “What an encouragement to see the impact of this work in 2017–not just the numbers of translations completed, but how lives are being changed, too.”
About the United Bible Societies
The United Bible Societies is a global network of Bible Societies working in more than 200 countries and territories across the world. Together, United Bible Societies members are the world’s biggest translator, publisher, and distributor of the Bible. Bible Societies are also active in areas such as HIV/AIDS prevention, trauma healing, and literacy. United Bible Societies works with all Christian churches and many international non-governmental organizations. Read more: www.unitedbiblesocieties.org.
Maximize your Bible understanding when you become a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it right now!