International (Wycliffe Associates) — Wycliffe Associates announces that 235 language groups worldwide are now using MAST (Mobilized Assistance Supporting Translation), a revolutionary new method of Bible translation that enables a single team of national translators to draft and check an entire New Testament translation in record time.
In the coming year, Wycliffe Associates wants to begin 500 new language projects using MAST.
“This is a breathtaking moment in the history of the church,” said Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. “Christ’s Great Commission is doable. We can share God’s Word with every language group on Earth–in our lifetime.”
In 2014, the organization launched its first MAST workshop in South Asia, where 13 national translators drafted half of the New Testament in two weeks. The fastest a New Testament translation has been completed using traditional methods is 6 years, and many New Testament translations have taken 25 to 30 years to complete.
News of the MAST team’s success raised questions about the quality of the translation. But translation experts who checked the MAST translators’ work at the request of Wycliffe Associates confirmed the accuracy of the team’s translation.
“When we first saw this astonishing strategy in action, it seemed too good to be true,” said Smith. “But since then, we’ve had these new translations checked by some of the leading Bible translation scholars of the world–and they’re as astonished as we are.”
Dr. John Luton, who has participated in checking the work of 52 translation projects around the world in the past 6-7 years, said, “The work produced through the MAST methodology is excellent. It compares very favorably with texts produced through other methods.”
Dr. Luton described one South Asian MAST translation he checked as “very high quality and among the best I had ever seen.”
Each new MAST project begins with a workshop where deeply devoted national translators start translating on day one. They work in parallel on different passages of the same book of the Bible. When an individual solves a translation problem in one passage, he or she applies it to similar passages. The workers help each other, check each other’s work, get community input–and the overall effort is lightning fast by Bible translation standards!
The cost of each workshop is approximately $19,500, and Smith says the cost of each MAST translation effort is expected to shrink as technology continues to improve.
Since the first MAST workshop last year, there are already 235 groups at work using MAST to translate the Old or New Testament or Open Bible Stories (a set of 50 fully-illustrated Bible stories). Wycliffe Associates has received additional requests for MAST training from more than 120 language communities. The organization estimates that a 26-member team of national translators can produce a New Testament translation in less than a year.
Of the more than 6,900 languages spoken around the world today, only 531 have a full translation of the Bible, and another 1,329 languages have an adequate New Testament translation.
Organized in 1967 by friends of Bible translators, Wycliffe Associates empowers national Bible translators to provide God’s Word in their own language, partners with the local church to direct and guard translation work, harnessing their passion and desire for God’s Word, and engages people from all around the world to provide resources, technology, training, and support for Bible translation.
Because millions of people around the world still wait to read the Scriptures in the language of their heart, Wycliffe Associates is working as quickly as it can to see every verse of God’s Word translated into every tongue to speak to every heart. Last year, 2,544 Wycliffe Associates team members worked to speed Bible translations in 73 countries.