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New initiative seeks to translate 'Original Testament' in every language to bridge the 'gap'

Bible translation
Photo courtesy of Wycliffe Bible

A Christian group seeking to expand people’s engagement with God’s Word is working to accelerate the translation of the Old Testament to reduce the language barrier preventing some from reading the Bible. 

The 4.2.20 Foundation’s Institute for Biblical Languages & Translation trains translators and consultants in Hebrew, both in Jerusalem and online, so speakers of any language can absorb God’s Word, particularly the Old Testament. 

The organization’s goal is for complete Bible translations in every language to begin by 2033. As the 4.2.20 Foundation notes on its website, every fourth New Testament verse is a reference or a direct quote from the Old Testament, adding to the importance of ensuring people understand it.

In a Tuesday statement to The Christian Post, Ricki Gidoomal, chief of staff of the 4.2.20 Foundation, explained that the organization has a growing staff of over 35 people, including teachers. 

“Regarding funding, there is a continuing need to sponsor Bible translators and consultants who are trained in our programs, both in Jerusalem and online — these are those who will be returning to the field to ensure the Bible is translated into their mother tongues, as well as for the development of online curricula and exegetical resources for Oral & Deaf Bible translators,” Gidoomai wrote. 

The foundation worker stated that the organization works closely with over 47 Bible translation agencies to ensure “those who are trained continue to serve in projects into the future.”

Most of the world's languages — 90% — do not have a full translation of the Bible, the organization notes on its website. Of the over 400 sign languages worldwide, only one has a complete Bible.

During Pentecost this year, men and women gathered at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem to address “The Original Testament Gap,” which refers to how the Old Testament is under-translated and frequently misunderstood. 

“That’s what this consultation is all about,” David Swarr, president and CEO of the 4.2.20 Foundation, said in a statement published by CBN News. “We had people from around the globe that have gathered here very prayerfully to seek the Lord.”

“The Original Testament is the foundation for us to understand the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus came preaching,” he added.

David Hamilton, 4.2.20 Foundation’s vice president for strategic innovation, elaborated on why the group referred to the Old Testament as the “Original Testament.” Hamilton has also served Youth With a Mission (YWAM) for about 38 years, a group working on translating 30 Bible passages by the end of 2025 orally. 

“When something is old, you just want to toss it out and replace it with something else. Original speaks of [a] foundation that has legacy and value in a multi-generational way. The Original Testament was the Bible that Jesus and the apostles used, and we want everyone to have access,” he said. 

Hamilton noted that it would be impossible to read with New Testament without having read the stories of Abraham, Moses, David and other figures that appear in the Old Testament. 

“Or places like Jericho or Jerusalem and events like crossing the Red Sea or manna in the desert and you have no idea in your language what these stories were about,” he added. “What happened? Who were these people?” 

To illustrate this point, the 4.2.20 Foundation published the Gap Testament, a version of the New Testament without any references to the Old, according to CBN. 

“You can see as you go through the scriptures, different parts are just missing because when we read it without an understanding of the original … we do not get the full picture of God’s purposes,” Hamilton said. 

“So, we just want the fullness of God’s good Word to be available to all people. The goal? The whole Word for the whole world.” 

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