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Translating the Bible one language at a time

Translating the Bible one language at a time

NEW world translation of Bible courtesy of Jehovah's Witnesses.

PRESS RELEASE: The complete revised version of the New World Translation of the Bible is available in the Philippines for free in Tagalog, Cebuano, Waray-Waray, Hiligaynon, Iloko and Pangasinan courtesy of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The New World Translation of the Bible is now being made available free of charge in 195 languages, including Tagalog and 5 other Philippine languages, to reach more people in their native tongue. 

Jehovah’s Witnesses released the New World Translation in 33 languages in 2020 alone, bringing the total number of published Bible translations to 195. 

In the Philippines, the complete revised version of the New World Translation is available in 6 languages namely Tagalog, Cebuano, Waray- Waray, Hiligaynon, Iloko and Pangasinan. 

Over 60% of the population speaks Cebuano, Tagalog, and Waray- Waray. Hiligaynon, on the other hand, is spoken mostly in Western Visayas while Iloko is the language of many in Northern and Central Luzon provinces. The Pangasinan language, meanwhile, is predominantly spoken in the Pangasinan province and northern Tarlac. 

The translation work was carried out by teams of volunteer translators who worked in the areas where the target languages are spoken. The translation, publishing, and printing work of the Witnesses is all supported by voluntary donations. This allows the Witnesses to make the New World Translation available worldwide free of charge.

One of the many milestones in the translation work  in 2020 was the completion of the first Bible in American Sign Language (ASL). The ASL is also understood by many who use the Filipino Sign Language. 

“As far as we know, Jehovah’s Witnesses are the first organization or group of persons to release the complete Bible in ASL. And probably that means it’s the first complete Bible in sign language in the world (and) in the history of mankind,” said Geoffrey Jackson, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  

Another highlight came with the release of the New World Translation in Bislama, a language spoken by about 10,000 people on the remote island of Vanuatu. Bible translations have been produced in Bislama before but the average cost of a copy is $30 U.S. (PHP 1,400). Now, however, there is a new Bible translation available in Bislama free of charge. 

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been producing and distributing Bibles since the early 20th century. Over time, they acquired printing rights to the King James and the American Standard versions of the Scriptures, among others. 

In the 1940s, however, the Witnesses began working on a translation into modern English. A primary aim of their translation efforts has been the restoration of the name of God—Jehovah—to the more than 7,000 places in the Bible where other translators have substituted it with titles such as “Lord.” 

In 2013, the Witnesses released a revised version of the New World Translation, which among other things, uses updated language for enhanced readability. The simplified language also facilitated translation efforts. 

The translation efforts are not yet over as Jehovah’s Witnesses plan to release the Bible, in whole or in part, in 36 more languages in 2021. 
The New World Translation can also be downloaded from the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, jw.org, also known to be the most translated website globally.

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