The legitimacy of Oral Bible Translation

By May 29, 2023

International (MNN) — When someone brings up the topic of Bible translations, Christians are quick to champion and defend their preferred translation. Maybe even now, you thought of your favorite Bible translation — and most likely, it’s a written one.

When talking about Scripture translations, Oral Bible Translation doesn’t often get a mention. However, Ed Weaver with Spoken Worldwide says it’s just as legitimate and even crucial for non-readers in oral cultures around the world.

(Photo courtesy of Spoken Worldwide)

“My concern is if you produce an oral Bible, then people might interpret that as saying, ‘Well, that’s a half-baked product. That’s not the real thing.’ If there’s a rigor that’s applied to translation in an oral methodology, can that be accepted as the true Word of God?”

Oral Bible Translation teams working with Spoken Worldwide are committed to accuracy and effectiveness. They seek to take information contained in every Scripture passage and deliver it naturally to oral learning communities.

Weaver says, in general, the Bible translation world has accepted the legitimacy of Oral Bible Translation with open arms. However, in some spaces, Spoken Worldwide is still educating and advocating for Oral Bible Translation.

Their point is that Oral Bible Translation isn’t just an interim product on the way to a language’s written Bible translation as the end product. For many oral learners, an Oral Bible Translation is the end product.

“If there is a text translation in a particular language and there’s an oral translation in the same language, both of those are legitimate,” says Weaver.

Learn more about Spoken Worldwide’s ministry.

Meanwhile, pray for oral learners to have the chance to know Jesus.

Also, Weaver says, “I’d love to see people pray for continued greater understanding [and] greater mutual respect for the respective contributions to the Bible translation movement. I think that’s a valid prayer and I think that’s a prayer of unity, ultimately.”








Header photo courtesy of Spoken Worldwide.