Rapid Translation of the Gospel

There's lots of places that need the Gospel. The Word of God says Jesus will return once His Gospel is preached to all peoples of the world. They speak different languages. Translating the Bible to each language takes a long time. Groups like Wycliff are making great progress on that. It's not happening fast enough with many perishing without Christ. That made me rethink the problem in can we were doing it wrong. Do we need to translate the Bible? Or can we translate just part of it getting more results?

I propose partial, piece-by-piece translation. Here's how that works:

1. Use the Gospel, not the Bible. Then, use a subset of it.

2. Use as few words or ideas as possible to express that subset.

3. Pay for more of it to be translated as needed in each area.

Use the Gospel, not Bible

In His time, Jesus preached salvation to many people. It's unclear how much of the Old Testament He preached to each of those crowds. His message of salvation was much simpler: belief in God, His righteousness, our sin, who Jesus is, what He did, and how He will save us. It takes only a tiny portion of the Word of God to present that message. There's also a lot of redundancy in the New Testament where just using one instance (i.e. the best) of each idea might suffice. I suggest consulting with missionaries who had little to work with, but saw God's Spirit move anyway, to get ideas for what to include. I imagine different audiences will react strongly to different parts of the Word.

An example subset might be one eyewitness (maybe John) followed by parts of the New Testament about key topics. Example topics in NT: our sinful nature vs the saving grace of Christ in Romans; verses on love specifically (eg 1 Cor 13:4-8, ); holy living in various areas of life (eg Col 3:12-17); organization and purpose of the church (eg 1 Timothy); the committment of the early church in Acts despite persecution with love for our enemies (eg Stephen's example, 1 Peter 4:12-19); the Second Coming of Christ in Revelation.

Limit the Vocabulary

We like to make Bibles elegant. If we dress up literature, how much more should we beautifully present the Word of God? The problem is that it's better to have some of the Word of God than none of it. Our efforts to make beautiful Bibles leads to none of it in most places. Different cultures sometimes don't even have the same words or concepts in their languages. I advocate trying to use the fewest, but best, words we can to reduce translation work. From there, the translators can add local words or phrases where they'd have impact. Their goal is reproducing the key message as quickly as possible.

Translate More as Needed

We deliver a quickly-translated subset. God Himself blesses the Word of God to have impact. People will come to Christ with it. Then, they'll want to know more of the story! They'll have questions about our history, faith, lifestyles, business, and so on. In each case, the missionaries interacting with them will get their questions, prioritize them, find verses answering them, and pass those onto translators. Their churches, maybe including supporting churches, will fund those translations. Translating fragments should be cheap enough that even a small, rural church might chip in on it. Individual translators wanting to serve God, but limited in time available, might chip in translations. Whatever is translated goes back to the missionaries and the people they're serving.

Growing Body of Translations

There should be an online resource hosting the translations. All of them will be necessarily incomplete. For each language, there will be a full list of chapters/verses followed by a topical page. A topical page will just list verses appropriate to that topic. A standard template might be used that works on all of them with the specific verses coming out of a database that's periodically updated. The site should use a Content Delivery Network, such as Cloudflare or Stackpath, to ensure worldwide, fast, and reliable reach. Both the host systems and delivery platform should be security-focused. The combo of CDN with secure platform will reduce some attempts to take down the Gospel from hostile parties. There's purpose-built technology to get the translations through restrictive technologies from there.

(Read the Gospel, learn to share it, read other essays, or back to home.)