In 2017, Bible Societies assisted in the completion of Scripture translations in 49 languages spoken by more than 580 million people.
2017 was a ‘first’ for 20 languages, spoken by over 14 million people. 7 communities received the very first full Bible in their language, 4 received their first New Testament and 9 communities received their first, or additional, portions of Scripture.
Languages change and develop over time. That is why Bible Societies are also committed to revising existing translations or providing new1 translations, when requested, giving new generations the chance to meaningfully engage with Scripture. In 2017, this resulted in 26 new translations and revisions, plus 9 study editions, with the potential to reach more than 566 million people.
Scripture Access Today
There are currently 7,097 languages in the world spoken by over 7.6 billion people.
674 languages spoken by nearly 5.4 billion people now have a complete Bible and a further 1,515 languages spoken by 631 million people have a New Testament.
This leaves 406 million people with only some portions of Scripture, and a further 209 million people with no Scripture in their language.
United Bible Societies is working towards the day when everyone can access the full Bible in the language of their choice. Bible Societies are currently working on over 400 translation projects around the world.
Scripture Access and Engagement
Developments in digital technology have provided unprecedented access to the Bible, and more people than ever before in history are engaging with Scripture – and sharing it, too.
The Digital Bible Library® (DBL) is central to our strategy to make the Bible as widely and easily accessible as possible. By the end of 2017, the DBL contained 1,735 Scripture texts in 1,269 languages spoken by 5.6 billion people. Audio Scriptures in the DBL nearly tripled in 2017 to 1,078 audio Scriptures in 732 unique languages spoken by 4.9 billion people.
The DBL is owned and maintained by United Bible Societies in partnership with other Bible agencies and with the support of the Every Tribe Every Nation alliance. It makes the Bible accessible by providing Scripture texts to the public through partners such as BibleSearch and YouVersion.
Why Bible translation matters
When a community receives the Scriptures in their language, something profound happens. People feel that God is speaking directly to them, from among them. “God speaks my language!” is a common joyful reaction as they start to experience the hope and transformation in the Bible.
While great strides have been made in Bible translation, with the full Bible available in the languages of around 81% of the global population, 209 million people across the world still do not have the chance to encounter any part of Scripture in their language. Much work lies ahead if at least some parts of the Bible are to be made available in these remaining 3,773 languages. Please pray for this vital area of mission and for the Bible Societies and partner agencies committed to meeting this need.