New Bible Translations Clear Up Confusion in Philippines

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Colorado Springs, CO— Sometimes meaning gets lost in translation. Literally.

Phillip Yancy at launch of Cebuano and Tagalog BibleFor instance, an old Cebuano Bible translation for the Philippines’ second-largest language group (16 million speakers) incorrectly refers to marital sex using a word that refers to illicit sex, pakighilawas, bringing a negative connotation to Bible passages that doesn’t exist in the original languages.

Because the meaning of older Cebuano and Tagalog (22 million speakers) translations often caused confusion, church leaders asked Biblica to work on new Bible translations based on the same principles of accuracy and modern language used by the New International Version® (NIV®) of the Bible. It took 18 years to complete these two translations, which are bringing God’s Word in contemporary language to the two largest people groups of the Philippines.

On May 3, 2010, Biblica celebrated the launch of the Cebuano and Tagalog Bibles in Manila. Special guest and award-winning author Philip Yancey joined Biblica International CEO Keith Danby, and Biblica Asia Pacific Group Vice President Somporn Sirikolkarn for the celebration.

“The launch of our Tagalog and Cebuano Bible editions was truly blessed by God through His mercy and grace. More than 630 Christian leaders attended,” said Bishop Leo Alconga, Biblica East Asia Area Executive Director.

Biblica has completed three new Philippine Bible translations in three years. The Hiligaynon Bible launched in 2007 for the 8 million Filipinos who speak it as their first language. Sirikolkarn said Biblica plans to begin translation of the Ilocano language next, spoken by nearly 10 million Filipinos.

The Philippines is the 12th most populous nation in the world, with more than 98 million inhabitants in its 7,100-island chain. It shares with East Timor the distinction of being the only predominantly Christian nation in the East Asia region. Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines is an ongoing threat to the nation’s stability.

The new translations will help communicate God’s love and mercy in clear language to people throughout the Philippines. Much of Biblica East Asia’s outreach is centered on the predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.