Australia: Bible Translation


Bible Society Australia is committed to helping Indigenous Australian’s Open The Bible in their heart languages. Working closely with local indigenous translators and their churches, as well as mission partner organisations, Bible Society helps coordinate several translation projects. Amongst other things, BSA funds translation workshops and provides expertise through translation consultants.

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Translating the Bible into Indigenous languages has always been, and remains, critically important. They are the heart languages of many people. A heart language is the language a person thinks and dreams in. Many Indigenous people speak some English, however much of what they read in English versions of the Bible can be confusing and complicated. Since 1788, over 155 of the estimated 300 or more languages first spoken in Australia have disappeared, and the remaining 110 are critically endangered. In 2005 the National Indigenous Language Survey said, “all of Australia’s Indigenous languages face an uncertain future if immediate action and care are not taken.”

It is widely acknowledged that the Bible is the most important source of usable connected discourses in endangered Australian languages. Rev Dr John Harris, historian and author of ‘One Blood’ says, “This is not simply a biased religious perspective but an undeniable historic fact, the only people in the past who have cared enough about Aboriginal languages to translate anything substantial have been Christian linguists. In so many cases, their texts are the only real record of the language. Such texts are now highly valued in universities and other secular institutions as the only materials with which to revive and preserve a language.”

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