Nearly 700 languages now have a complete Bible translation

(Photo: Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez)

There are now complete Bible translations in nearly 700 languages. 

Latest figures from Wycliffe Bible Translators show that 698 languages now have the complete Bible, up from 683 in 2018. 

Even more have a complete New Testament, up from 1,534 last year to 1,548 languages today, while a further 1,138 have some translated portions of the Bible, up from 1,133.

Wycliffe said that active translation work was underway on 2,617 languages across 161 countries, with the charity and its partner organisation SIL involved in about three-quarters of this work.

Statistician for Wycliffe, Peter Brassington, said the figures were encouraging. 

"These are encouraging figures, and represent the tremendous work that translation teams are doing across the world," he said.

"Changes year to year don't always look dramatic on the surface, but Bible translation requires dedicated, long-term effort, and the translations finished now often started many years ago.

"I joined Wycliffe in 1996: the number of languages in which there is a complete Bible has doubled in that time." 

James Poole, Executive Director of Wycliffe, said: 'Yet again, we have seen that when people get their New Testament or Bible in their language, it makes such a difference.

"Seeing the joy and excitement at the dedications of the Keliko, Wamey and Nyakyusa New Testaments in this past 12 months reminds me how much it means to people to have the Scriptures in their language.

"As people read the word of God with full understanding so they are transformed in a far deeper way."

Despite the progress, there is still a long way to go before there are complete Bibles in all languages.  According to Wycliffe, the number of active languages, including sign languages, in the world stands at 7,353.

Although there are 3,384 languages with some portions of the Bible, there are 3,969 spoken by some 252 million people, that are still without even a single translated verse.

"As the statistics show, there is still much work to do," said Poole. "Nearly 1.5 billion people do not have the Bible in the language they understand best: that's one in five of the world's population. That's why Wycliffe continues to work with urgency to translate God's word into all these languages."