The bible is one of the most translated and distributed book in history. Wycliffe bible translators are among the many organizations that make this possible. Who are Wycliffe Bible Translators and what do they do?
A brief history of Wycliffe Bible Translators indicates that the name is derived from John Wycliffe who is known for translating the first English Bible. The modern group of Wycliffe translators was started in 1942. The aim of these translators is to get the Bible, God’s Word into the hands of all people in a language they understand. To achieve this Wycliffe Associates work ‘smart, not harder’ as posted in the ‘Mission Network News online’ of January 12, 2015.
The associates have a unique approach where they employ the MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation) technique. Broadly speaking, this method involves identifying groups of people in the target translation language and organizing them into various groups. Each group is assigned a specific book of the Bible to work on. In this way, a big section of the Bible (or even the whole Bible) is translated in a much shorter time. This is unlike the tradition way of Bible translation where non-native speakers have been used. This usually involves the foreigners learning the target language in details in order to do an accurate translation work. Normally, it would take decades to get the Bible in the intended language.
Compare this with a group of 13 coached and trained native language speakers who were able to produce a translated draft of half the books of the New Testament in just 2 weeks. Critics have trashed the Wycliffe Associates method of translating the Bible pointing out that inaccuracies will inevitably creep in. However, the president and chief executive officer of the Associates, Bruce Smith, points out that due diligence is taken to avoid such a possibility. According to Bruce, it will be possible to have a Bible in all languages by or before the year 2025. The MAST program is already in progress in many parts of Africa and Asia.
Why the apparent rush in Bible Translation?
As already mentioned, traditional way of doing Bible translation takes years and even decades to get a translation in one language. Many tribes of the world have not been reached with the Word in their own language. According to the Wycliffe Associates’ website (www.wycliff.org.uk) about 180 million people around the world do not have any part of the Scripture in their ‘heart’s language’. In addition to this, close to 2 billion people have only parts of the Bible in their native language.
The driving force behind Wycliffe Bible Translation efforts
Among the beliefs of the Wycliffe Associates is that the Bible is inspired of God and can be fully trusted. It has absolute authority on how people should worship and do things. For this and other reasons, it is desirable that every person has access to the Book in their own language.
The Wycliffe Associates vision is to reach the 1800 languages around the world that up to now do not have a single Bible verse in their language. This monumental task is supported by the pillars that make up the associates vision. These are:
- Partnership with like-minded organizations
- Staff training in readiness to train others
- The desire to accomplish the work urgently
- Sharing the vision with churches and individuals everywhere
- Setting up mechanisms that will keep translation work going even in Wycliffe’s absence.
Through this effort, Wycliffe Bible translators have contributed in getting the Bible in full or in part to more than 2800 languages out of the world’s 6887 known languages. It is the late Nobel laureate, Nelson Mandela that said: ‘if you speak to a man in a language that he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’ The work of Wycliffe bible translators agrees with this philosophy in both word and deed. They also appear to pay special attention to Jesus’ words: ‘This good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed in all the world as a testimony to all nations…’
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