Ministries and donors pair to launch all-inclusive Digital Bible Library

By December 20, 2012

International (MNN) — There's a "new kid on the block" in the world of Bible translation, and it could be key to unleashing God's Word on a worldwide scale.

Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN) is a ministry alliance compiling hundreds of Scripture translations into a mass repository called "The Digital Bible Library." Together with major donors, Bible ministries Biblica, Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, and American Bible Society formed ETEN to catapult Bible ministry into a new digital age.

ETEN is the brainchild of visionary Mart Green, who sums up his concept in a single phrase: "Ease of use unleashes creativity, which leads to Scripture engagement."

Gathering all translations and versions of God's Word into a single location makes it easier for ministries and missionaries to access Scripture. They'll also be able to share the Bible in languages and formats that are easy for communities to engage with.

"This library is the key to unleashing ministry opportunities from South America to Asia," says Biblica President and CEO Doug Lockhart. "Because of the rapid expansion of the web, social networks, and mobile technology, more opportunities for spreading God's Word arise every month.

"We must work quickly to take advantage of these new 'roads' into places where people desperately need more than just food and water. They need to hear the Words of Life."

Access and engagement are two foundational aspects of Green's passion for the Great Commission.

"My passion really is to eradicate Bible poverty," says Green. "If we all work together and there's enough funding, I think we could at least get a New Testament done [in every language] over the next 15, 20 years."

The New Testament has been translated into 2,000 languages so far. When finished, the library will hold Bible translations in each of the world's 6,000 languages.

"There are 2,000 [languages] that they're working on right now, between these organizations," says Green, "and another 2,000 nobody's started. So there's plenty of work for everybody to do.

Green says 3 major items top ETEN's to-do list: funding, more translations, and more "cardholders." In order to use different translations of the Bible on platforms like mobile apps or Web sites, licensees must get permission from the copyright holder; the process is similar to checking books out of a physical library.

But when there are hundreds of different Scripture versions and translations, the process starts to get tedious.

"What used to take a significant amount of effort and time–often several months–now can be accomplished in a matter of minutes as a result of having access to The Digital Bible Library to pull text from," says Bobby Gruenewald, founder of YouVersion, a Bible app that's been downloaded onto nearly 70 million devices.

Another early benefactor of the library is BibleSearch (bibles.org), which draws most of its 235 translations from the library for free display on its dedicated website.

At the end of the day, with all the benefits this library will provide, its implementation will come down to funding.

"We could get this done in 10-15 years versus 25, but it will get down to funding, and that funding being in place so that we can train," states Green. And of that funding, each penny goes toward Bible translation.

He explains that of "every dollar that comes, $0.45 goes to Wycliffe, $0.45 goes to American Bible Society, and 10% goes to Biblica, because that's how many New Testaments they work on."

You can pray, give, or go to help Scripture reach every person on earth. Click here to play a part in the Great Commission work of Every Tribe Every Nation.

"One and a half to two billion dollars over the next 15-20 years is what it's going to take, and we could have a New Testament for everyone," says Green.

Or perhaps you've been called to translate God's Word, he says. "We need people of great skills that can translate these last 2,000 New Testaments."

Tomorrow, we'll show you how Wycliffe Bible Translators USA is contributing to this project.

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