International (MNN) — At the recent Every Tribe, Every Nation Summit, Spoken Worldwide was recognized as having completed the first-ever New Testament translation using an oral methodology. The text is arranged to be read aloud easily and naturally. Then, it is recorded and sent to the people who can use it.
Ed Weaver says this is a Sudanese Arabic translation. “There are many speakers of Sudanese Arabic, maybe 30 million worldwide. There are probably at least a million Christians. So there were a lot of people that are highly educated and could be involved in Bible translation. But it is still a very difficult language to navigate in terms of geography, hostility to the Gospel, etc.”
Sudanese churches have responded, saying it’s the best translation they’ve ever had. They use it in Bible studies, as well as outreach events.
How did Spoken put together this translation? Weaver says historically, people would create an entire alphabet before writing a Bible translation. “We’re not going to spend money or time to create an alphabet. We’re going to take the language as it exists today, and we’ll go ahead and translate it without the intent of it hitting a written page.”
Weaver says the Spoken translation goes through the Bible, not verse-by-verse, and instead captures continuous thoughts of the passage, allowing for an oral process of communication to make natural connections between thoughts and ideas. “It’s hard to separate out verse by verse in an oral method.” This inherent naturalness of construction allows people to easily remember a passage and interact with the concepts of Scripture with minimum interference that can arise from unnatural information presentation.
Using John 3:16, Weaver gave an example of how an oral translation might sound different, just by using vocal emphasis in his delivery. “I think we would say, ‘God so loved the world . . . that He gave His only Son . . . so that whoever believes . . . will not die.’ So that would be an example of how you would deliver the passage’s meaning.”
“And it would be accurate. We would not add anything or take anything away from it.”
Praise God for the Sudanese churches and their use of this new translation. Pray they will be strengthened.
Header photo courtesy of Spoken Worldwide.