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From Priest to Pastor to Bible Translator

Luciano Jaramillo was born in Medellín Colombia and grew up in a Roman Catholic family. In this culture, Luciano quickly realized two things. First, that the church was a firm foundation in the midst of an unstable world. And second, that the Bible was a holy book handled and interpreted only by priests.

Because of these observations, he decided at a very early age to become a priest.

Luciano entered the Catholic seminary as soon as he could, and was ordained as a priest at the age of 24. Instead of being satisfied, however, he soon found himself feeling restless and confused.

“This closeness to the Word of God created in me a critical spirit of the teachings of my church that were not in agreement with the Bible,” he says. “Eventually, I had a crisis of faith and left the priesthood and my church.”

Despite this disillusionment with formal religion, Luciano still had a hunger for God and His Word. “I always kept a great love for and interest in the Bible,” he explains.

What he didn’t know at the time was how God was using this love for the Bible to lead Luciano into translation work.

Before long, he decided to became a pastor in a Protestant church. “My new church sent me to the United States to study and after obtaining my doctorate, I joined the International Bible Society as director of the Nueva Versiòn Internacional (NVI) project.”

Following the translation principles of the New International Version (NIV), the NVI seeks to preserve the original language while taking into account the target language. The result is an easy-to-read, accurate, contemporary Spanish Bible.

As he worked on the NVI, Luciano found himself thoroughly enjoying the process of translation.

In time, he began working on other translation projects.

“People in general, and Christians in particular,” he explains, “know nearly nothing about the ministry of Bible translation: the importance, richness, need, and beauty of translation.”

That’s why Luciano now seeks to help the people of Latin America learn about the Bible canon, how the books of the Bible came to be recognized, how the Bible is translated, as well as basic rules for Bible interpretation.

It’s also why he is currently working on the NVIS Bible – Spanish and Portuguese translations similar to the New International Reader’s Version, that use simple language to help children and new readers engage with God’s Word.

“There are hundreds of languages in [the Latin American] region and in the world that need a translation of the Bible, especially in indigenous languages.”

Luciano is now 82 years old. But he’s not slowing down. He continues to follow God’s call and leading by faithfully continuing the work of Bible translation.

“There has been a call,” he says, describing his life in retrospect. “I can see that God has led my life, calling me…”

Dr. Luciano Jaramillo

Biblica Staff
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