There’s a wonderful satirical post at Tominthebox: Unreached People Groups Everywhere Rejoice over New NIV Translation.
“From the deepest recesses of South American Jungles to the coldest corners of Siberia, native people groups everywhere are rejoicing over the latest announcement that the English-speaking world will be spending millions of dollars for yet another English translation of the Bible. The excitement erupted after Zondervan Publishers announced that it would be making a major revision and update to its New International Version, first released in 1978.”
HT: Eddie Arthur
It seems wrong that those who already have the Bible should be given more while those who have little… wait, this sounds like something I’ve heard before:
“For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (Matt. 25:29, NIV)
As much as I support Bible translations for minority languages, I don’t think we can redress the inequities by taking resources away from the more developed language communities. Churchill’s words come to mind here: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” In other words, just because capitalism has resulted in an over-abundance of Bible translations for the few doesn’t mean that some sort of redistribution of resources is going to solve the problem of lack of access to God’s Word.
A wealthy translation project like the NIV revision is one way of getting a Bible done. The Bible Society model which is essentially a donor-driven aid program is another. I’m wondering if open-source translations might be the rising wave. High-quality translations in languages of wider communication are increasingly becoming available: NET, WEB, and WBTC are examples in English. Thanks to programs like Adapt It, mother-tongue translators can base their translation on a well-established translation and then adapt it to their own language. We actually used this method for several years to adapt the Chichewa translation into a first draft for Nyungwe.
I read a tantalizing quote in an article on the Wycliffe Bible Translators website. A woman in Papua New Guinea said, “Having the Bible only in English is like holding a cold glass of water that we can’t drink.” I feel compassion for such a person but at the same time I also feel slightly jealous. You see, I sit here at my desk surrounded by cold glasses of water. I can drink from any of a dozen Bible translations. Yet my soul is very often thirsty. Perhaps, the thirst that woman experiences is a good thing. Maybe it’s the prerequisite to a vernacular translation of the Bible being produced by a local church. And maybe my thirst will not be filled by the NIV revision or the Common English Bible or yet another study Bible. Maybe the Word is not the water. Instead a Bible translation might simply be the vessel for God’s life-changing message. In Psalm 42, the psalmist’s soul is thirsty for God. In the Beatitudes those who are blessed thirst for God’s justice.
With so many Bibles, why are we still thirsty?