Simple Statement of Our Mission At The Bible Translator’s Assistant, we have pioneered a new approach that makes Bible translation more efficient and cost effective while maintaining accuracy and naturalness. We want every language to have the Old Testament in addition to the New Testament, as well as commentaries and classics of the faith.
Story that Highlights Need for the Old Testament Most language groups only have access to the New Testament translations. In one of the languages in the Philippines, for example, when missionaries first began ministering to the people, they taught them exclusively from the New Testament. But when the book of Genesis became available, the elders of the tribe immediately asked him: “Why didn’t you teach us this way in the first place? Now the New Testament is really beginning to make sense.”
The Basic Problem and Opportunity What that group experienced is not an isolated problem. Though the New Testament is being translated into many languages, few mission organizations even try to translate the Old Testament and other Christian literature. There are thousands of languages without the Old Testament. Many languages lack the Old Testament because translation is very costly and labor intensive. You need a skilled linguist, a team of mother-tongue translators, and lots of time. Translating just the New Testament typically takes at least 10 years or longer. That’s a long time, and it doesn’t even include the Old Testament or other vital Christian literature.
The Value We Can Bring We can help any ongoing translation project deliver the Old Testament at the same time that the New Testament is finished. Here’s how it works: Once a translation project is underway, we become assistants to the translation team. They provide the linguistic information we need about how the language works. We in turn use our new approach to translate the Old Testament while they’re working on the New Testament.
Underlying Magic In our approach, we represent the meaning of the Bible in a way the computer understands. For example, Daniel 1:2 in the English Standard Version begins “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand…” We told the computer that in this case the word “gave” means that God caused or allowed Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jehoiakim. Then we use our knowledge of how the language works to configure our advanced linguistic computer tools to automatically generate an initial draft of the Old Testament. This initial draft still needs to be edited and checked. But our studies show that our approach speeds up the translation process tremendously. We’ve also shown that our drafts are highly accurate and easy-to-read for mother tongue speakers.
Current Work and Use of Funds We currently have several projects underway in the Philippines to translate the Old Testament, and we plan to start another project in Vanuatu within the next two years. In the Philippines, we have a module that understands the national language, Tagalog. We are producing illustrated portions of the Bible for the poor in Manila with our parter, freeillustratedbible.com. We have also begun working with several minority languages who do not have the Old Testament. In Vanuatu, we are preparing for an extended workshop with at least three languages. We will spend about three months working with these languages to enter data about their languages, produce Old Testament drafts, and then train and work with them during the editing process. We hope this workshop model will become one of our main tools for bringing Old Testament translation to many minority languages around the world.
This kickstarter campaign will raise money to pay our linguists and Bible consultants to prepare Old Testament books for use in these projects and eventually around the world. At this time we still need to prepare Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Job-Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Obadiah-Malachi. Note: this money will provide only a nominal gratuity for these hard-working experts; they are mostly volunteers. But the money helps!
Call to Action Imagine yourself as a new Christian if you didn’t have the entire Bible. Imagine a new pastor who doesn’t have a Bible commentary to prepare sermons for his congregation. Please support us financially so that we can join translation teams around the world and help them translate more of God’s Word. Please pray for us that God would be with us and bless our work. If you’re interested in joining our team, email us at Tod.Allman@TheBibleTranslatorsAssistant.org and tell us about yourself. There are many opportunities for you to get involved. Let’s translate all God’s Word for all the world.