A Christian group is currently working on translating the Bible to make it available for oral learners.
Not everyone learns by reading; some people learn more by listening. And for many others who have not been given the opportunity to learn to read or don't have access to reading materials, understanding a print version of the Bible is impossible. These are the often overlooked needs of believers that an organization called Spoken Worldwide wants to address.
Spoken Worldwide is a group of people working together to create oral translations of the Bible for believers who learn orally. Having gone to different communities and sharing God's word through oral Bible stories for years, the organization has now embarked on the task of translating the Bible orally.
Spoken Worldwide already released their most recent five projects in 2019. In the long run, they hope to produce an oral translation of all the books of the Bible.
The group's objective is to translate the Bible for learners who understand through listening. They record passages of the Bible in a way that most effectively communicates to the listeners.
Ed Weaver, president and CEO of Spoken Worldwide, explained the difference between an audio Bible translation and an oral Bible translation.
Unlike audio Bible translation which is basically done by opening a bible, having a microphone, and reading the text word for word, oral translations present a more realistic delivery.
"[With] spoken word, we use idioms, slang, we communicate in a more natural delivery than a more formal type of communication we just put down on a page," Weaver said, according to Mission Network News.
The ultimate goal of oral Bible translation, he said, is to record passages in "the way people use their language in a local culture as a way to deliver Scripture, something that is faithful to the original text but in a very natural delivery that people would be able to understand completely and respond to."
Spoken Worldwide uses its target community's local cultural language to translate the scriptures. Weaver assured that their way of translation remains faithful to the original text.
The group believes that oral learners, when given the chance to listen to an oral Bible translation, will have a deeper understanding of God's word. The principle applies even to oral learners who know how to read.
According to Weaver, they have committed themselves to the work that focuses on people who either can't or will not use a printed Bible. He revealed if people would research, almost two-thirds of the final list of Bible versions needs an oral translation.
Spoken Worldwide ensures that the content, as well as the accuracy of the bible contents, are not compromised on every translation. Every project goes through a thorough process that involves multi-lingual speakers, oral translation and internalization, written Scripture review, and story-telling demonstrations. Local focus sessions are also conducted with a panel.
They also assured that the people who handle the process of translation are equipped enough to handle the task. The meticulous review goes through the hands of theologically qualified people who handle the oral translation and presentation processes.
Amid the possibilities of oral bible translations changing gear and ending up to do written versions, Spoken Worldwide assured that they will remain on their course to keep producing just oral translations.
Weaver ended his statement by asking the readers to pray for more people to be involved in the work of oral Bible translation.
"This is a complete paradigm shift in the translation world and the need is beyond imagination," he said.