We see Bible translation as a tool to make God’s Word accessible to everyone. In fact, we often use the more technical terms „Scripture access“ and „Scripture engagement“ to refer to the bigger goals that Bible translation is one aspect of. From this perspective it becomes clear that our goal has changed from Bible translation into every language to Scripture access for every person.
Making sure that everyone has access to the Bible is a lot more complicated than we realized when William Cameron Townsend first envisaged translating the Bible into every language in the world. To help make sense of the complexity, I have defined some key concepts and written a short page on each of them – see the links below. I have also provided, with these short descriptions, links to additional information. Finally, in each case, I have made clear the choices that have been made so far in the North Fly.
What do we mean by Scripture access, especially in the North Fly? The way you provide „access“ to „Scripture“ is by removing any of the following barriers that might still be in the way:
- Remove the language barrier – through translation. This is the most obvious barrier, but we now realise that multilingualism makes this barrier more complex than we originally thought. In a multilingual society, we have to see what role each language is playing in the lives of each person and tailor our access strategy to meet the real needs using all available linguistic resources. Thus, in the North Fly, we are taking a holistic approach that fully engages the local languages, Tok Pisin, and English – emphasising different roles for each.
- Remove the learning barrier – through a good balance of orality and media, and education to improve use of media – both print and electronic. Every society and person needs face-to-face communication. In societies where literacy is a recent introduction that does not play a major role in learning, we have to build a good foundation of oral translation work. This is why we are focusing on oral Bible storytelling in the local languages as the first and highest priority. We are using written Bible translations, already available in Tok Pisin and English, as source texts. We are also using oral methods to increase the general understanding of the pastors, who serve as the storytellers.
- Remove the „exposure“ and distribution barriers – through church-sponsored storytelling events (oral exposure) and Bible resource networks (media distribution – both print and electronic). We do not have much experience or success to report yet on efforts to increase exposure and distribution, but we are working to address this need in the Seed Company proposal.
- Remove engagement barriers – through dialog and partnership between the churches and resource organisations. Thus, in the North Fly, SIL as a resource organisation has worked very hard to establish a primary partner relationship with ECPNG as the leading church denomination in the area. Together, we are also working to build bridges with other denominations.
[More to write: Poorly used printed Scriptures (including portions). Recording them. Relevant theological insights. Role of ministry partners in this challenge.]