Translating the Bible into a person’s heart language is vitally important. A heart language is the language a person thinks and dreams in, and while many indigenous people speak some English, most of what they read in English versions of the Bible can be confusing and complicated.
Work is currently underway helping the Pitjantjatjara people of Central Australia translate the Old Testament into their language, a task which will take approximately 15 years. The commitment is to work with willing indigenous communities to make indigenous Bible translation possible.
If you would like to follow the progress of the Pitjantjatjara Bible translation, visit their website.
“It is an awesome thing for the Word of God to be in the heart language of the people because it is Jesus coming to become like an Aboriginal person, knowing the people, their feelings, the hurts, the pain, their whole identity.” Mr Maratja Dhamarrandji (Djambarrpuynu Translator)
Bible translation is a very engaging process. It allows local teams of indigenous Christians to introduce their communities to the Bible, the Word of God, as they work to transform a ‘closed’ book into one that makes sense in MY language! Translation and production of a Bible is a challenging process and can take many many years of exacting challenging work!
As indigenous languages are traditionally oral – spoken, not written – in many cases the Bible is the first major written work in a language. Not only does the translated Bible allow people to hear God’s word in their language for the first time, it also helps them to learn to read their own language.
Bible translation in Australia is undertaken by indigenous Christians committed to seeing the Bible in their own language with linguists and translators from a number of churches and mission organisations.
What is the Bible Society’s role?
Bible Society Australia assists missions and churches of all denominations across the country with their Bible needs. Where indigenous language groups need God’s Word in their own language Bible Society assists those involved in the translation work in a number of ways, but primarily by publishing their translations and making them readily available in appropriate formats (including audio) at affordable prices. Bible Society also assists translators with current computer software and support to make their task easier.
Once a translation is completed and published Bible Society also works with the translators and churches to develop and publish Bible resource materials that help Indigenous christians engage with God’s Word more deeply and apply it appropriately.
There are currently Bible translation projects in progress in about 20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages conducted by a number of different agencies and local translators. Bible Society is looking to publish their translations and assist with the development of related Bible resource materials.
Bible Society is currently providing a Translation Consultant to conduct the final translation checks on two Shorter Bibles that will be published in the next couple of years – Eastern Arrernte & Kunwinjku. This will be the culminations of well over two decades of careful and rigorous work by the translation teams involved.
The Kriol Bible, published by the Bible Society in 2008, is the only Australian Indigenous language Bible that has been completed. The Torres Strait Creole Shorter Bible, due to be released in July 2014, will be the thirteenth New Testament or Shorter Bible published (a shorter Bible include parts of the Old Testament as well the New Testament). Smaller portions of the Bible have also been published in 30 more Indigenous languages. Bible Society has published many of these portions and most of the New Testaments with many of them needing reprinting from time to time to ensure that they continue to be readily available to the readers.
You can be a part of providing Indigenous language Bibles to the first people’s of our nation by donating today. Donations to this project are tax deductible.
Celebrating 150 Years of Aboriginal and Islander Scriptures
Glory to our God! In 2014, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the fi rst Indigenous Scriptures published by Bible Society in Australia: the Ngarrindjeri Bible Selections.
Translation work is necessarily intensive, and Bible publication for Australia’s First Peoples has had a checkered history, but many people are working together to turn the tide: Aboriginal communities, AuSIL, Wycliffe, Bible Society as well as other partner organisations and churches.
Today, over 30 Aboriginal and Indigenous groups have at least some Scripture in their own language.
Here’s the full list of Indigenous Bible translations in Australia:
1864 Ngarrindjeri Bible Selections
1891 Awabakal Gospel of Luke
1897 Dieri New Testament
1900 Kala Lagaw Ya Four Gospels
1902 Meriam Mir Four Gospels
1943 Wororra Gospels of Mark and Luke
1954 Wycliffe Bible Translators established in Australia to recruit and train translators
1956 Western Arrarnta New Testament
1961 AuSIL (Australian Society for Indigenous Languages)
1981 Pintupi Luritja New Testament
1983 Kuku Yalanji New Testament
1983 Karrwa Mini Bible
1985 Gumatj New Testament
1985 Wik Mungkan New Testament
1985 Walmajarri Mini Bible
1990 Murrinhpatha Scripture selections
1991 Burarra New Testament
1992 Anindilyakwa Mini Bible
1992 Kunwinjku Mini Bible
1993 Kala Lagaw Ya Mini Bible
1999 Martu Wangka Mini Bible
2000 Tiwi Gospel Portions
2001 Warlpiri Shorter Bible
2002 Pitjantjatjara Shorter Bible
2003 Eastern Arrernte Mini Bible
2007 Kriol Bible (The first complete Bible in an Australian Indigenous language)
2008 Djambarrpuyŋu New Testament
2010 Alyawarr Mini Bible
2010 Wubuy Shorter Bible
2010 Anmatyerr Gospel of John
2014 Torres Strait Creole or Yumplatok Shorter Bible
2014 Nyoongar Gospel of Luke