A Bible for the Inuit
After 23 years, the huge task of translation into Inuktitut is complete
The Canadian Bible Society announced yesterday that the massive task of translating the Bible into Inuktitut had been completed after 23 years.
The new translation will give the Inuit people the opportunity to read from the complete Bible in their own dialect for the first time.
\"The Inuit people are eagerly awaiting the publication of the entire Bible in their language,\" said Hart Wiens, director of scripture translation for the Canadian Bible Society.
By far the most translated work in the world, the Bible has more than 750,053 words, 577,400 of which are in the Old Testament.
\"Bible translation in general is a time-consuming activity. It was very complicated, especially when the languages, cultures and geographical contexts in the Bible are vastly different from those of the Arctic,\" Mr. Wiens said.
\"For example, the Bible has many words for palm trees. But in Nunavut, there are no trees at all, which makes them hard to describe.
Mr. Wiens said the Inuit also recognize six or seven seasons that do not really correspond to the four seasons.
\"There were physical and geographical complexities with translating the names of different trees and animals,\" he said.
\"Trying to translate a culture that had sheep, camels and donkeys and palm trees into a culture built around seals, walruses and very few plants was difficult,\" Mr. Wiens said.
The Bible was a joint effort between the Kitchener-based Canadian Bible Society and the Anglican Church of Canada\'s Diocese of the Arctic.
The project began in 1978, when Dr. Eugene Nida travelled to Baffin Island to recruit translators on behalf of the Bible society and to conduct a workshop teaching the principles of translation.
The Inuktitut project was a turning point for translation because the translators selected for this project were all Inuit. Previously, unilingual English-speaking missionaries did all Bible translations.
Five Anglican ministers from the Arctic area, Rev. Benjamin Arreak, Rev. Jonas Allooloo, Rev. Andrew Atagotaaluk, Rev. James Nashak and Rev. Joshua Arreak, took on the task of the translation. They travelled twice a year to various locations in the Arctic and once a year to Kitchener where they could work for more than a month at a time on the project without disturbances.
\"From the beginning of the project, we were all overwhelmed by the responsibility of translating God\'s word into the Inuktitut language,\" said Mr. Arreak, the translation team co-ordinator.
\"We were afraid and yet compelled to move forward because the people needed the Bible in their language,\" he said.
Inuktitut is one of the three official languages of Nunavut, Canada\'s newest territory, and the aboriginal mother tongue of approximately 28,000 Canadians, primarily Inuit of the Canadian Eastern Arctic and Northern Quebec.
The Inuktitut language is spoken in Nunavut, the Ungava Peninsula, located on the northern tip of Quebec, and Nunavik, on the western side of the Hudson Bay. Although Inuktitut has a long history as an oral language, the Inuit people had no written form of their language until the late 1800s, when Edmund Peck brought the syllabic system to the Arctic. A phonetic form of writing originally developed by Rev. James Evans for the Cree, it was adapted for the Inuit so that they would have a way of writing down their history.
\"Translating the Bible into Inuktitut has given our language importance and has preserved it,\" said Mr. Allooloo.
Now more than 90 years old and the author of many books on translation, including Toward a Science of Translating and The Theory and Practice of Translation, Dr. Nida is thought of as father of modern Bible translation, Mr. Wiens said.
After the Inuktitut project is finished in 2005, the Bible society will not be starting up another translation of the Bible-- yet. \"We\'re not looking at undertaking new translation projects because in Canada, we\'re mopping up projects that have begun rather than starting up more of them,\" he said.
The New Testament was translated by the Canadian Bible Society into Inuktitut in 1992. Once the recently completed Old Testament is revised, it will be combined with the New Testament under one volume.
Publishing Inuktitut-language Bibles can be costly. Although most of the publishing cost is being carried by the Canadian Bible Society, the print runs are relatively small, and the Bibles need to be subsidized by people who buy them.
With the completion of the draft, the translators face the new tasks of community checking, consultant approval, final proof reading, printing and the preparation of Inuktitut language study guides.
The Bible is now available in more than 2,285 different languages. Four thousand languages have been identified in which no book of the Bible has been translated, and there is a recognized need for the translation into at least 2,000 more of the remaining languages, said the Canadian Bible Society.
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Local time: 07:38
German to English
Although it is exciting to hear that the Bible was translated into one more language, it makes me wonder which manuscript the work was based on. Since the article mentioned the \"Anglican Church of Canada\'s Diocese of the Arctic\" I suspect they used the Westcott/Hort manuscripts, which are based on the catholic manuscripts Vaticanus and Synaticus. The most popular translation from the same source is probably the New International Version (NIV).
Although maybe an interesting collection of stories, this is not the Bible. The Bible itself states many times that the Word of God and God are inseperable: \"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God\" (John 1:1); \"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,...\"(John 1:14) etc. If then God cannot change, neither can the Word of God. After all, logic itself tells us that God said either one thing or the other.
But are there any manuscripts that do indeed contain the actual Word of God? There must be, because the Bible again promises in many places: \"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away\" (Matthew 24:35); \"But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.\" (1 Peter 1:25); etc. The so-called Textus Receptus contains the copies of the original texts and is the only source the Jews accept (for the Olt Testament). The most influential Bibles like the King James Bible (English), Luther Bible (German) and original Reina-Valera Bible (Spanish) are based on that manuscript.
I am not trying to be divisive. But no work can be accomplished for God without the Word of God. The NIV has never started a revival, but the King James Bible has. \"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.\" (Hebrews 4:12)
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