he Bible has been translated in Myanmar for centuries. The first translation was started and finished by Adoniram Judson, the first missionary to Myanmar, in January 1834. He continued to revise this translation for the next six years. His translation can still be found on apps like YouVersion and the Bible Society of Myanmar, even though it is now over 150 years old. Further translations were completed by different translators in the 1900’s, 1920’s, 1960’s, and so on, all the way up to 2017. With all of this translation work, why are our partner organizations still working on translating the Bible in Myanmar?
According to the Bible Society of Myanmar, there are 135 different ethnic groups in the country and around 200 different spoken languages. In 2010 the Scriptures were recorded as being translated in 65 of these languages. The majority of these ethnic groups and languages have no access to the revealed Word of our Creator God. They cannot read the parables of Jesus, or hear Him rebuke His disciples. They cannot read how He wept for Lazarus or put mud on a blind man’s eyes.
Those in Myanmar who can read the Burmese versions, and most notably the Judson version, face the challenges of a translation from over 150 years ago. The Global Bible Initiative explains, “The Burmese language used in the [Judson translation] has become obsolete and difficult to understand for modern readers, but many Christians are reluctant to make changes. The translation is regarded as the only Bible (like King James Version in English) and therefore anyone who tried to make changes was considered heretical. Adding to this, many Christians have a wrong notion that the Bible is supposed to be difficult to understand, and that it needs to be read and explained by those who have attended Bible School.”
To meet all these needs, Bible translators have been working to present a Bible to the peoples of Myanmar — one that they can understand. They have faced incredible difficulty because of the coup, the civil war, and the COVID pandemic. Some translators have been forced to flee their villages and hide in the jungle, while others have been stranded by the conflicts surrounding them, unable to return to their translation team. Translation has been stalled by an inability to meet with others to check the quality and accuracy of the work. These translators are passionate about their work, and are devoted to its fulfillment even in the face of many obstacles.
1. Please pray God will open up a way for stranded translators to rejoin their team.
2. Because of the coup and COVID situation, many translators are unable to meet with the community for translation checking. Please pray God will open up a way for them to connect.