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Full Bible translation tops 700 languages for first time

Author: Simon Bartz, 7 August 2020

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More than a thousand people paraded through the streets in the Guatemalan mountain town of Cubulco recently when they received 4,500 Bibles translated for the first time into their own language. Photo credit: United Bible Societies

With an estimated 7,000-plus languages in the world there may be a little way to go, but the full Bible has now been translated into 700 of them.

This means the Bible is now available in languages spoken by around 80 per cent of the world’s population, just over 5.7 billion people, and Bible Societies – with other organisations – are working to make to make these translations accessible to everyone who wants them.

Almost three-quarters of these Bible translations have been provided by Bible Societies, and it is thanks to the kindness and generosity of people like you that this milestone figure has been reached. With your continued support more translations will be completed, more Bible-based literacy projects will be funded, and millions more Bibles will reach the hands of people who otherwise would never have the privilege of being able to read God’s word in their own tongue.

The milestone was reported in August 2020 by progress.Bible, which compiles data from Bible Societies and other translation agencies across the world.

A screenshot of a cell phone
Description automatically generatedUnited Bible Societies Director General Michael Perreau said, ‘This is the fruit of generations of sacrifice and generosity. Each Bible translation takes years of hard work and dedication. We give thanks to God for the men and women who have spent so much of their lives bringing God’s Word to their communities and for those who have supported and prayed for that work.’

United Bible Societies is a fellowship of Bible Societies working in more than 240 countries and territories. In the last five years, Bible Societies around the world have distributed over 1.8 billion Bibles or portions of Scripture and completed Scripture translations in 270 languages used by 1.7 billion people.

In 50 of these languages the translations are the first ever made, meaning 57 million more people can access the whole of God’s word in their mother tongue for the first time.

In addition, the Digital Bible Library, set up to enable hundreds of millions of people to access Scripture through websites and apps, has recently reached the milestone of bringing together 2,500 texts in 1,622 languages used by over 5.7 billion people.

‘2020 has turned out to be a year of great uncertainty, with many seeking hope and reassurance,’ added Perreau. ‘It is even more important that people are able to access Scripture in the language that speaks most deeply to their heart. My prayer is that, amidst the many challenges facing the world, this will be the year that millions more will discover the riches of the Bible for themselves.’

According to’s data, the number of languages with the full Bible has nearly doubled over the past 30 years, from 351 in 1990, to 700 in 2020. And it was just seven years ago, in 2013, that the last milestone of 600 languages was passed, demonstrating the incredible progress taking place in Bible translation today.

There is much work ahead with 1.5 billion people still not having access to the full Bible in their own tongue. Over the next two decades, Bible Societies hope to complete 1,200 more translations, which will make Scripture accessible to another 600 million people.

Regular giving by people like you makes such long-term plans possible and such great aims achievable. Bible mission continues even in our own uncertain times, as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic. We are so grateful for your continued generosity and kindness that drives Bible mission forward.


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