Entire Bible translated into 700 languages; 5.7 billion people now have access to Scripture

Unsplash/Aaron Burden
Unsplash/Aaron Burden

The Bible has been translated in its entirety into more than 700 different languages, meaning that over 5.7 billion people now have both the Old and New Testaments in their native tongue.

According to Wycliffe Bible Translations, the milestone was reached in recent weeks. The 700 total involves complete Bibles with all 66 books translated. 

James Poole, executive director of Wycliffe Bible Translators, said the milestone “represents the tremendous work that Bible translators are doing across the world.”

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“Every time we hear of the Bible being translated into another language, we know that means that for the first time the people in that language group can fully access the complete picture of God’s story,” Poole said. “It’s good to take a step back and realize what this 700th Bible means: 5.7 billion people who speak 700 languages now have the Bible in the language that speaks to them best. That is a remarkable figure and continues to grow.”

Wycliffe said it’s “impossible” to know which one was the 700th because there were “several launches of physical Bibles” and “several being made available online and via apps, all at about the same time.” 

The group listed three recent Bible translations that could have been the 700th translation: The Huichol (Wixáritari) Bible was launched in Mexico, the Ellomwe Bible launched in Malawi; or the Igede Bible, which is used by a Nigerian ethnic group.

“It’s amazing that there is so much Bible translation going on that we can’t pinpoint the 700th Bible. We live in exciting times, when the vision that all people will be able to read or hear God’s word in their language is becoming a reality,” Poole said.

The American Bible Society also celebrated the news, pointing out that Bible translation has rapidly increased in the past few decades due to “advances in translation technology” and an “unprecedented level of partnership among Bible translation agencies.”

Over the last four years alone, the ABS has funded translations in 328 languages, most of them completed by local translators working the group’s fellowship of United Bible Societies. 

“We are grateful to God, our ministry partners, and the financial partners whose generosity makes this Kingdom work possible,” ABS CEO Robert Briggs said.

Still, the group noted that the work is far from over, as more than half of the world’s 7,000 languages do not have access to any form of Scripture, and 1.5 billion people still are unable to read the full Bible in their own language.

ABS said its goal is to translate Scripture into 100% of the world’s living languages by 2033. 

Modern technology has allowed the Bible — the bestselling book in the world — to reach millions in new and innovative ways. The number of languages with the full Bible has nearly doubled in the past 30 years, from 351 in 1990 to 700 in 2020, according to statistics .

In September, the first-ever completeBible became available in American Sign Language, allowing the world’s 70 million people who are deaf to access Scripture for free.

According to the State of the Bible 2020 report released earlier this year by the Barna Group and ABS, most Bible readers (65%) prefer a printed version. However, millennials are about as likely to read the Bible digitally (52%) as they are in print (48%). Americans who live in a household that owns a Bible (77% of the population) are as likely to use a Bible app as those without a Bible in the house (56% vs. 55%).

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