Oral Bible Translation

Oral Bible Translation

Up to 80% of the world's population prefers oral communication to reading and writing. This includes watching films, telling stories, playing and listening to music... the list goes on.

For many cultures, oral communication is an integral part of society and a core tool for passing on history, knowledge and engaging with current events. So why not pass on God's Word through oral means too?

The process of Oral Bible Translation

Instead of writing down the translated Scriptures or just reading them, passages are studied and internalised by the translation team, translated, and then retold in the language and style of their hearts for recording and distribution. This ensures the recordings sound authentic and are accepted by the community.

Where possible, respected storytellers from among the community, who are skilled at telling different types of stories like those found in the Bible, take on the role of retelling passages for recording. It is important to correspond the genre of the passage accurately so that, for example, historic stories are understood as true accounts of actual events and parables are understood as fictional stories with a moral lesson.

This is then loaded onto an audio device, often solar panelled, which is distributed among the churches and communities who can now hear God's Word in the language of their heart!

Many of the translations we work with are oral translations.

Oral communication is often an core part of many African cultures, so is an increasingly popular strategy for Bible translation among language groups who prefer to hear and tell God's Word rather than read it.


Having the written text to accompany oral recordings is also important to the communities we work with. Transcribing the oral Scriptures is a way of providing this in a way that still feels natural as it accommodates oral features of the language and doesn’t differ from the recordings. 

Sign Languages

We also work alongside and provide financial services totranslation initiatives for South African Sign Language and other Sign Languages in the region. While many Deaf people can read, Sign Language is their heart language, and the one they are most at home with. Because of this organisations like our partner, Hands with Words, are creating visual Bibles for the Deaf.

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