Bible Translation Process

Do you know the steps your Bible goes through before it gets to you?

Bible Translation is a complex and comprehensive undertaking yet noble. On average, a Bible translation project takes 12-15 years. In the past some projects have taken more than 25 years to complete. A New Testament takes about 5-6 years

It costs about Ksh 1000 (an equivalent of 10 USD) to translate a single Bible verse through the various stages of translation.

The process of translation begins with a request by the Church. Churches from a certain language group establish that there is a genuine need for scriptures written in that language. They then request the Bible Society of Kenya to assist them to translate the Bible in their language.

Bible Society of Kenya then joins the Churches in translation work in response to their Scripture needs. Translators from the local languages are then recruited, often in groups of three, from different denominations and dialects.

They then start drafting the Bible in their local language.

Every verse of the bible has to go through the following stages:

1. Drafting – one person per book of the Bible

2. Team revision – all the 3 translators go through each book of the bible to establish joint ownership for every book.

3. Reviewers check – community checking of each book of the bible with the pastors and professionals versed with the language and culture of the community.

4. Translation consultant checking – this is an expert highly versed with the knowledge of original languages of the bible i.e. Greek and Hebrew, linguistics, and advanced learning in theology and biblical studies who has to go through each book of the bible with the team to check accuracy, naturalness and clarity in all the bible.

5. Manuscript examination – where all formal checks are done to make the text comply with all common language writing rules for a well written books e.g. punctuation marks, quotations, referencing, completeness of the bible and consistent usage of key terms, orthography/alphabets of the language.

6. Typesetting – where the bible is given a good layout.

7. Proofreading – where the translators check the typeset text to ensure there is no omission.

8. Insertion of corrections i.e. after proofreading.

9. Confirmation of final proofs

10. Production of Camera-Ready Copies that go to the printers for the start of printing.

Bible Society of Kenya then officially launches the Bible and allows the Churches to interpret the message of the Bible to their community.

The Bible Society of Kenya has translated the Bible into 24 local languages including; Kiswahili, Pokot, Kikamba, Somali, Kalenjin, Turkana, Kimiiru, Lubukusu, Borana, Lunyore, Dholuo, Oluluyia, Ekegusii, Nandi, Gikuyu, Logooli, Kiembu – Kimbeere, Maasai, Lusamia, Taita, and Lutirichi-Lwisukha-Lwitakho,Lusamia, Igikuria

Our ongoing Translation projects include.

  • Banyala
  • Teso
  • Mwimbi Muthambi
  • Gikuyu Study Bible

It is always a joy to see a community receive a Bible in their language. For some communities, the Bible is the only form of language preservation hence it is a treasure that is unmatched.

This post was published on Wednesday 18 January 2023