Computer tablet technology is being welcomed with open arms by Bible translators, especially those working in volatile regions of the world. They also are excited about a newly created source text that is available in the public domain.
Indigenous Bible translators are finding that tablets and smartphones are not only a more efficient way to work on scripture translation projects, but they also make it much safer for those working in cultures that are antagonistic towards Christianity.
"They can essentially hide in plain sight. Nobody knows what they're working on," explains Bruce Smith, president and CEO of Wycliffe Associates. "Every app hides among the hundreds of other apps that are on the computer, and it just enables them to have personal access to have it within reach so that they do the work as they're able and without fear of scrutiny from outside."
Smith says the project – "Tablets for National Translators" – is really growing.
"This may sound like we're trying to impose Western technology or American values or something like that on these people, but in reality this kind of technology is spreading around the world as fast as it's spreading here," says the Wycliffe leader. "... This is the way that the local church, the local community, the local Christians who are involved in Bible translation are asking us to serve them and support them."
The tablets that Wycliffe Associates provide to Bible translators are fully loaded with translation software and essential apps.
In addition, an open-source Bible has been developed to help indigenous translators worldwide to translate the scriptures into their own language without having to deal with copyright restrictions, which can slow the progress of Bible translation.
"So we have set about the process of creating an open-license Bible translation that will essentially unlock not only the English translation but also up to 50 to 60 majority languages using that same translation," says Smith. "So that source text is available to the world forever for free."
A complete, modern English version was finished in October with many more gateway languages to come.
"This is really unprecedented in history, but it's made possible because of Creative Commons licensing that allows you to unlock new works in this kind of way so that other people can have access and use them."
Smith anticipates the Unlocked Literal Bible will increase Bible knowledge among churches that have been without the scriptures in their own language.