A Bible in every language
Bible Society is involved in a wide variety of translation work. In Australia our aim is to see Indigenous people come to a relationship with God through his word and to live committed and growing Bible-focused lives.
Types of Translation Projects
We fund a variety of different translation projects, many of which are in partnership with other groups and organisations across Australia. These are some of the translation efforts we're involved in:
Provides specialised printing services to language groups who have completed translation, includes: typesetting, design/layout and print production.
Enables recording of translated Scripture through audio recording workshops as well as supporting Oral Bible Translation (OBT) – a method that is perfect for oral languages without written orthography.
Develops and publishes culturally sensitive Bible resources for ministry to children, youth and those in hospital and prison as well as developing digital resources.
Provide specialist consultancy support for Bible Translation Projects in multiple languages to ensure the resulting translation is both accurate and clear.
About the Translation Process
Step 1 - English Front Translation
The goal of Bible translation is to communicate the same meaning in the target language, as to the original audience of the biblical texts. In this initial step, our teams working with First Nations peoples produce an English translation from which the Indigenous translators can translate into their local language. The Front Translation keeps both the source language (Hebrew or Greek) and the target language in mind.
Step 2 - First Draft
Using the Front Translation, the Indigenous translators produce an initial draft in their language. Translators can work independently, in pairs or small groups to undertake this stage. Complex genres, such as the poetry of the Prophets or abstract language and concepts found in Job, often require several translators to discuss the text and forge a draft. Once complete, it will be keyboarded, printed, and have a reading check done.
Step 3 - Second, Third, and Fourth Drafts
A second translator will look over the First Draft and make changes to improve the naturalness and accuracy of the text. Having multiple people engaged in the drafting process ensures that the resulting draft is the culmination of many people’s efforts, rather than reflecting the perspective of just one individual. This drafting stage irons out any English ‘literalisms’, ensuring the Scriptures sound as natural in the target language as possible. It also checks each draft against the Front Translation to make sure the original meaning is being clearly communicated.
Step 4 - Group Check
Once the original translator is happy with the draft, a team of translators will conduct a final group check. Anywhere between three and 10 translators will read through the final draft together and make sure the text ‘flows’ and sounds coherent. Any remaining spelling errors or syntactical idiosyncrasies are usually picked up and fixed at this stage.
Step 5 - Back Translation
The final draft is translated back into English as literally as possible. This step is ideally performed by someone not involved in the drafting process. The goal is to represent in English as accurately as possible what the final draft of the target language is saying.
Step 6 - Consultant Check
A Translation Consultant ensures the final draft conveys accurately the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek Bible. In this check, the Translation Consultant, an accredited expert in the original biblical languages, asks pertinent questions to the translators to ensure the translation is exegetically sound. Word usage issues may also be raised in this step, as well as questions about lexical choices (correct words).
Step 7 - Community Check
In this step, the clarity and naturalness of the translation are checked by Indigenous community members. Men and women from the community who have not been previously involved in the translation project are given the translated Scripture to read. The translation is read, and then the reader is asked detailed open-ended questions about what they have just read. This ensures the translation can be clearly understood by the majority of the community.
Step 8 - Preparation for Publication
The final layout and format of the text is prepared for publication. A final spell-check of the text is conducted. Book introductions, outlines, chapter headings, footnotes, maps, and illustrations are added at this stage. The book is then typeset, and decisions about the colour, dimensions and specifications of the book are decided by the translation team.
Step 9 - Publication and Dedication
The Bible is published, launched, and made available to the community at an official dedication ceremony. This final event celebrates the many years of hard work that have gone into translating the Scriptures, the partnership between the Indigenous translators and communities and supporting organisations, and is a thanks-giving service to God for his faithfulness and kindness in providing his Word to the local people.
Project Reporting to Keep You Involved
Funding Indigenous translation and engagement projects means you will be recognised as an official Funding Partner. Translation takes a long time but funding partners will be provided with regular updates on the progress of their projects. Here's what to expect over the course of the coming weeks and months:
Upon donation one of our team will contact you to help connect you to a suitable project
Our Translation Projects
We choose each project based on several key factors however the most significant factor is having the commitment of local translators and the support of the local church community. Without this these projects would not bear fruit. Once this commitment is assured Bible Society and partner organisations are able to provide the support and resources needed to bring these projects to fruition.
This indicates Indigenous languages where we feel we could potentially do some work. There are many factors to consider when evaluating translation work with a particular language. One of the most vital is the openness and willingness of the community to engage in the project.
Active indicates a language where we currently have translation projects that are in-progress
This indicates a language where translation work has been undertaken and they now have the vast majority of the New Testament translated. Further work may take place in the future to increase accessibility of scripture in this language.
Transformation through translation
Desire for Translation
We work in response to a request from the language community and/or local church for Scripture translation
Personal Discipleship/Spiritual Maturity
Isaiah 55: 10-11 says: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Having Scripture in a language encourages spiritual growth and maturity.
Cultural Identity & Connection
Each language has a unique cultural expression and for many speakers their language is part of who they are. When you speak a particular language you are representing not just yourself but your family and community. Bible Translation in Indigenous languages enable speakers to connect with Christ in a culturally appropriate way, he becomes like a brother and God speaks their language.
Translators are acknowledged as the experts in their languages and are the key partners in the projects. In this way they are empowered to see themselves as significant contributors to something special for their communities.
Reconciliation and Healing
The Bible is the story of God reconciling humanity to himself through his son Jesus Christ. Indigenous Bible Translators learn that God loves them as Aboriginal people and that the Gospel is not just for English speakers. For many Indigenous translators being able to work closely together with non-Indigenous Christians on the common goal of translation brings both unity and healing.
Translate the Word into someone's heart language today
Frequently Asked Questions
It is estimated at the time of white settlement in Australia, there were in excess of 300 distinct indigenous languages spoken among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Today there are only approximately 120 of these still used at some level, with at least 50 languages spoken by a significant number of people.