JANUARY 1, 2021
“I have been waiting for this for 19 long years!” What was our fellow believer waiting for? The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures in his own language, Bengali. Many people react similarly when the New World Translation is released in their language. But have you ever wondered what is involved in translating and producing these Bibles?
First, a translation team is assigned under the direction of the Writing Committee of the Governing Body. How long does it take a team to translate the Bible? Nicholas Ahladis, who works with Translation Services in Warwick, New York, explains: “There are many factors, including how many translators are available for the project, how complex the language is, and how well its readers understand Biblical culture, as well as whether the language varies from region to region. On average, it takes a team anywhere from one to three years to translate just the Christian Greek Scriptures and typically four or more years to translate the entire Bible. The process takes even longer for sign languages.”
More than the translation team is needed to translate the Bible. A group of outside readers from various backgrounds—and sometimes different countries—review the translation, offering their services at no cost. Their feedback helps the translators to produce a Bible that is accurate, clear, and meaningful. After all, as a Bible translation trainer in South Africa puts it, “translators feel an enormous weight of responsibility toward Jehovah and the readers of his Word.”
After translation is complete, the Bibles must be printed and bound. To that end, printeries use at least ten “ingredients”: paper, ink, cover material, adhesive, cover liners, silver leaf, ribbons, headbands, spine stiffeners, and a capping material to help bind the Bible together. In 2019, a total of over 20 million dollars (U.S.) was spent on just these materials for Bible production. Our Printery personnel worked more than 300,000 hours during that year to produce and ship Bibles.
“The Bible is the most important publication that we produce”
Why devote so much time and money to those tasks? “The Bible is the most important publication that we produce,” says Joel Blue of the International Printing Department. “So we want its appearance to glorify the God we worship and the message we preach.”
Besides standard editions of the New World Translation, we also produce editions for readers with special needs. For example, the braille New World Translation is available in ten languages. One complete braille Bible can take up to eight hours to emboss, and its many volumes require at least 2.3 meters (7.5 ft) of shelf space. We also produce a special edition of the Bible for inmates of prisons where only paper-covered books are permitted.
The New World Translation affects the lives of its readers. Consider the Kiluba-language congregation in a place called Tombe, which is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tombe is over 1,700 kilometers (1,000 mi) by road from the nation’s capital. Only one Bible was available to the Witnesses there, and it was in an archaic form of Kiluba. That lone Bible was passed from one brother to another so that they could prepare meeting parts. But since August 2018, complete and modern-language copies of the New World Translation in Kiluba have been available to everyone in the congregation.
A German-speaking sister says about the revised New World Translation in her language: “I no longer say that I have to read the Bible. Instead, I ask myself, ‘When can I read more?’” A prisoner wrote: “I was given a copy of the New World Translation, and it is changing my life. I have never understood God’s Word as well as I have since reading this translation. I would like to know more about Jehovah’s Witnesses and how to become one.”
All readers of the New World Translation are grateful for the donations that support its production. These donations to the worldwide work have been made by means of the methods found on donate.jw.org. Thank you for your generosity.