AT the 169th Annual General Meeting of the Society in London in June, the General Secretary, Mr Paul Rowland, said that “about 80 per cent of the worlds population have access to a translation of the Bible in a language they can understand. It is estimated that copies of the Holy Scriptures are now available in 2,212 of the worlds 6,500 languages. This figure includes 366 languages with Bibles, and a further 928 languages with a New Testament. However, approximately 4,300 languages have no portion of the Scriptures.
“The Society seeks to publish only faithful translations of the Word of God based on the reliable editions of the original languages. Regrettably, comparatively few of the Bibles available, or in the process of being translated today, are based on the Masoretic Hebrew and Greek Received Texts, and are good, non-paraphrastic translations undertaken by those who have the spiritual qualifications that we believe are necessary for the work.
“The prayerful and sacrificial interest that friends have in the work in which we are engaged is a great encouragement to us as we seek, by His grace, to sow the good seed of the Kingdom of God in the worldwide field that lies before us. Above all, of course, we have the assurance of the Lord Himself that His Word will not return unto Him void. Our labours are therefore not in vain, and we pray that the Lord will richly bless His Word as it is published by the Society to the praise of His name and the advancement of His Cause among the nations of the world.”
With regard to distribution of the Scriptures, Mr Rowland said, “The total number of Bibles circulated in 1999 bearing the Societys name was 663,927, an overall increase on the previous year of over 105,000 copies. During the past year, 300,000 of English Bibles (a record number) were distributed, a large proportion of which were purchased by distributors in Ghana, Nigeria and other African countries. This evidences a continuing demand for the Authorised Version by Christians in these lands who value a faithful and reliable translation of the Holy Scriptures. . .
“During 1999 a special edition of the Gospel of John in the English language was prepared to mark the Millennium. Over 123,000 copies of this Gospel were circulated in 1999, and several hundred thousand copies are being published for distribution in the current year.
“In total, copies of the Holy Scriptures were published by the Society in 38 languages and distributed in 113 countries during 1999. The total number of Scripture items bearing the Societys name was 10.7 million.
“Whilst each year witnesses the publication of more “contemporary”, “revised” and “improved” editions of the Bible in the English language, it is encouraging to note that a number of Christians and churches have become increasingly aware of the fact that the new versions of the Bible in the English language are not after all as accurate as they had been led to believe. . . .
“Under God, the Societys growth over recent years has been made possible by the wonderful and timely provision of the resources necessary for the expansion of its activities, which have come from the legacies and other gifts that the Lord has inclined our supporters to make available for the work. For all this we are truly thankful. However, if the Society is to be able to continue its activities at the same level as in previous years, or indeed (as we would like) to increase yet further the range of Scriptures available, and the volume of copies of the Word of God supplied to those in need, the Society will require substantially increased financial support. . .”
The Editorial Manager, Mr G Anderson, said in his report that “the Trinitarian Bible Society, unlike most Bible societies, does not employ professional linguists who work at the Societys Headquarters. We do not have training schools and recruitment drives to provide translators for our worldwide projects. We do not go around the world providing translator seminars using the most modern and up-to-date linguistic theories. We follow what we believe to be the Biblical methods of translation.
“We believe that the Word of God belongs to the Christian Church. God through inspiration gave His Word to believers who wrote His infallible words down. The resulting manuscripts were copied and sent to churches which in turn did the same thing. As the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew were translated into languages as the gospel went forth, so churches and individual believers received Gods Word in their own language.
“Today many faithful pastors, church leaders, missionaries and national Christians work hard to translate Gods Word in the same tradition. . . . Thus the Societys role in translation is to provide expertise in the Biblical languages, theology and translation methods to those whom God has called to the work of producing Bibles for the languages in their own countries. . .
“It is in this role that the Editorial Department is involved with these God-called translators and their helpers. We ensure that they meet our spiritual, theological and linguistic qualifications. We check their translations for accuracy and faithfulness to the original language texts. We also send out portions of the translations for people to verify independently the readability of the text and the correct use of the receptor language before we are ready to go to print. . .
“Please pray that the Lord will continue to bless the translators with whom we work and raise up qualified translators to begin work in more languages. Please pray also for the Editorial Department, our consultants, translators language helpers and ultimately the churches for whom much spiritual work is being done to bring about faithful and accurate versions of the Word God.”
Mr Rowland, in his concluding remarks, stated, “We are exhorted not to despise the day of small things. Five loaves and two small fishes, with the blessing of Almighty God, were once used to nourish the hungry thousands in the day of our Lord, and so may we confidently trust in the wonder-working power of the exalted Redeemer, the King and Head of His Church, to use our poor labours to circulate His Word, which will be used to the spiritual welfare of countless multitudes throughout the world.” q