The Bible has been translated into many languages from the Biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Bartholomew Ziegenbalg was the first to translate the Bible into an Indian Language. The names of people like Fabricius, Carey and Nathan Brown have only to be recalled to conjure up in the mind stories of heroism and perseverance amid difficulties that would have overwhelmed many a lesser human. The modern translator working as the member of a team, his/her work checked and discussed by colleagues before publication, may feel harassed at times and his/her calling requires no less dedication, but his/her life is humdrum by comparison.
India's 1 billion plus people speak an estimated 1652 languages, of which only 216 are spoken by 10,000 speakers or more. However, several of these language speakers are bi-lingual. According to our survey, if translation is carried out in at least 300 of these languages we are confident we can reach the entire population. So far BSI has provided full Bibles in 65 of India's languages, and NT in 70 additional languages. At present the Translation Department carries out 45 language projects as first time translations. There is a growing need for the Scriptures in several languages to meet the needs of the people for the worship and mission needs of the Church
The demanding task of Bible translation requires scholarship and expertise in the areas of biblical studies, theory and practice of translation, communication, linguistics and anthropology to bring about high quality Bible translations. To enhance the productivity of those involved in the Bible translation task, and to speed the provision of the Word of God, computer software is widely used.
Translations Centre Shillong
Establishment of Translations Centre Shillong:
The Translations Centre Shillong was established in the year 1972 as an extended Office of the Translations Department of the Central Office, Bangalore, with Rev. Dr Mathew P. John as the Deputy Translations Secretary who remained in-charge of the Centre till 1980. The year 1972 itself records more than 30 translation projects as being handled through the Translations Centre in Shillong, Meghalaya. The following individuals had served as head of the Translations Centre Shillong, currently Rev. Dr. W. Along Jamir, the Associate Translations Director heads the centre since September 2012:
- Rev. Dr Mathew P. John as Deputy Translations Secretary from 1971-1974 and as Translations Consultant- 1975-1980.
- Rev. Dr John Philipose as Translations Consultant from 1981-1982.
- Rev. Benjami S Rai, as Translations Consultant from 1983- 1999.
- Rev. Dr M. J. Hynniewta as Associate Director (Translations) from 1999-2005 and as Director (Translations) from 2005-2006.
- Rev. Dr Zaihmingthanga as Associate Director (Translations) and Translations Consultant from 2006-2012.
- Rev. Dr W. Along Jamir, as Associate Director (Translations) and Translations Consultant from 2012- to date.
Important features and the Demography of North East India:
Ever since, the Translation centre was established it has served the people and the churches of NE region as a handmaid in enabling to have the Word of God in their own mother tongues. The distinctive function of the Centre contributes to the overall strength of the BSI particularly in the field of Translations of the Bible in the North East of India including Sikkim. It may be noted that this is the only Translation Centre in our country that works exclusively for the translations of the Bible in so many languages.
An important feature of the NE region of India is its multilingual contexts that belong to the different family of languages. The Centre caters to the need of the seven states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, and also Sikkim where several language people groups are in need of the translation of the Bible in their own languages.
1) The centre serves as a permanent resource centre to train, monitor and supervise the translation projects in the region.
2) The centre ensures effective contacts with the church/translators working in different remote parts of the region.
3) The centre adds to the translation acceleration of the projects.
4) The centre facilitates the translators with accommodations to stay, library and helps them in the progress of the translation works.
5) The centre serves as a resources centre, in equipping the translators and the translation checking committee members by organizing regular workshops and training seminars on Bible Translation works both at national and international levels.
One of the most remarkable developments of the Christian missions in the NE region has been its rapid growth in the NE states. Thus the demand for the scripture in one’s own mother tongue remains to be a challenge for the churches and the people groups. It is here that the ministry of the Word of God becomes very important and significant. The Bible Society of India helps and supports in translating the scriptures for a people group and not for a particular denomination. This contributes the ministry of BSI to go beyond church denominations. Hence, the vision of our Translation Centre is:
- To remain Operative with updated skills and knowledge in Translation works.
- Set as a strategic location to train, supervise, and monitor the translation works.
- To see that we are able to serve the church and the people of NE region who are in need of having the word of God in their own mother tongue.
- To help people to engage in the scripture, Scripture Engagement.
- To provide the scripture in that medium that the people and the Church desires.
The mission of The Bible Society of India, Translations Centre Shillong is that it continues to be a Mission of God, serving asa handmaid of the Church. With the conviction that it is God who has instituted and therefore serving Him with utmost commitment for the Bible Cause. The ministry of Bible Society goes beyond reaching out to people having the Word of God in their own mother tongue and significantly transforming lives as individuals, family and community. Without any shade of doubt this remains to be the testimony of the BSI among the people in North East India. We invite the Churches and individuals to partner together for the Bible Cause and own the ministry of the Bible Society of India so that together we will reach out to all the people groups in all languages in this generation in this region and beyond.
The Production Department is responsible for procurement of raw materials, selection of printers to print and bind the Scriptures, placement of orders and delivery of Scripture items to the Auxiliaries and customers.
The Department also develops new book designs by selecting appropriate book size, binding materials of suitable colours and texture and adding suitable edge gilding. The printing and binding of the Scriptures is done through many printing establishments located throughout the country. BSI maintains a close contact with all its suppliers to ensure the maintenance of high quality in all its products. Being a large publishing house, BSI has access to every available production facility in the country. The access to the various resources gives us an edge over others in the field. It enables us to ensure high quality production at the lowest possible costs.
There are approximately 3500 different types of scriptures produced by the Bible Society in many languages and in a wide variety of formats including Scriptures in Braille, specialised Scriptures for children, youth, women, the under privileged and adults who are learning to read. Braille Scriptures are being distributed to thousands of visually impaired people. For children many comics have been released. A Children's Bible was produced in English and subsequently in some of the Indian languages also.
This department also organises the transportation of raw materials and scriptures to various destinations.
The Bible Society provides different types of printed Scriptures like Bibles, New Testaments, Portions, New Reader Portions, Selections and New Reader Selections. There has been a steady demand for Scriptures over the past years.
The task and mission of the Marketing Department of the Bible Society of India is to meet the Scripture needs of all Churches, Christian Organizations and evangelists who are committed to share the Word of God with the people of our nation. To achieve this goal, Marketing Department constantly develops new formats of Scripture items in various languages, sizes and shapes which appeal to our audience and distribute them to every nook and corner of our country, at a price they can afford.
The Finance Department is responsible for all accounting and financial matters of the Central Office as well as the 15 Auxiliaries. By the very nature of our operations, the accounts are required to be audited by Statutory Auditors every financial year.
Audited accounts are placed before the relevant Committee and filed with the relevant Government Departments.
The Finance Department is also responsible to co-ordinate preparation of the annual budget. Each Auxiliary prepares an estimate of its financial needs for the following year which is submitted to the Finance Department. The Finance Department prepares the consolidated budget and submits the proposed budget to the Working Committee or Executive Committee for endorsement through the Finance Committee.
The IT Department is located in the head office at Bangalore and
handles databases and data communication. The fifteen Auxiliaries, a
Translation Centre and a Promotional Office spread all over the
different states of India and Andaman & Nicobar Islands are connected
through internet and this facilitates regular exchange of data. This
department is also engaged in developing in-house programs to cater to
the different departmental and auxiliary day to day operations such as
Production Monitoring, Production Accounts, Distribution Monitoring,
Budget, Finance, HRA, Payroll, Provident Fund, Pension, Inventory,
Customer Ledger and General Ledger. The distribution data entered in
the Auxiliaries are collated in the head office, providing information
of Scripture distribution. The entire process of producing Bibles &
other Scripture materials is monitored through the information
provided by these systems. These programs and tools are regularly
updated. Most of the Bible Society operations are computerised and
the IT Department also provides facilities and support to all the
Departments and Auxiliaries by regular training and upgrading of the
Church Relations and Resource Mobilisation Department (CRRMD)
The Church Relations and Resource Mobilisation Department exists as the servant of the Church.
- To promote the study of the Word of God among all Age Groups, namely, Children, Youth and Adults for a meaningful and purposeful life.
- To encourage the Body of Christ to get involved in Bible Advocacy and Scripture Engagement in order to impact the Nation for the Lord Jesus Christ.
- To mobilise resources for meeting Scripture needs.
- To Assist the Church in India in promoting the Word of God to the whole family and Church.
- To Solicit contributions, donations, gifts and legacies from Churches, individuals, families and others, for the Cause of God’s Word.
- To Develop and Coordinate Fund Raising Programmes and Provide Training for Staff and Volunteers, of the Auxiliaries.
- To Provide Training for Staff and Volunteers for Project Implementation.
- To Compile/Coordinate the publication of Sowing Circle – an organ of the BSI.
- To contribute to the Spiritual upliftment of the BSI Family and also mobilise prayer.
- To mobilise prayer for the Bible Society of India, Contributors, etc.
A brief Historical sketch:
- This Department was formed during November-December 1995, and it was known as Resource Mobilisation Department.
- During May-June 2007, the name of this Department was changed to Resource Mobilisation and Ministry Department.
(The ‘Ministry’ aspect was added to have specific ministry-focus among children, youth and women of all Church denominations and beyond).
- During June 2013, the name of this Department was changed to Resource Mobilisation and Church Relations Department.
(“Church Relations” has been added in order to give special focus on the relationship between the BSI and the Church, with service in and through the Church, as the BSI is ‘the Handmaiden’ of the Church)
- Further as per the resolution of the Executive Committee the department was renamed as Church Relations and Resource Mobilisation in May 2015.
The Director of the Department, Dr. Miss E. Leelavathi Manasseh shares:
“A Resource Mobilisation plan will be only as effective as our Ministry Plan in and through the local Church. The Ministry Plan, for us, as ‘the Handmaiden of the Church’ enhances the Fund Raising Plan based on the Biblical foundations. In view of this, our slogan is, ‘Bringing people closer to God and to the world, through the Word of God, enhances resources for the Bible cause.”
General Secretary’s Department
The Head Office of the Bible Society India is located at Bangalore and branches in 15 locations including Bangalore as well as a promotional office in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. While the operational management of the Organization is the responsibility of the General Secretary, various tasks are executed through the departments; each department headed by a Director except for the support functions which reports to the General Secretary. Auxiliary Secretaries are responsible for offices located in different parts of the Country.
Human Resources & Administration
The primary functions of the department is to discern potential staffing needs, to maximize human resources for the needs of the Society, to coordinate all general administrative functions including meetings, conferences etc., and to arrange for the purchase and procurement of office equipments, vehicles and capital assets
On the administration angle, the department is concerned with providing all staff a congenial and clear work environment, facilities, furniture, equipment and office automation to reduce fatigue and stimulate self- development.
The department provides Christian nurture to staff, by way of planning daily devotions, inviting men and women of God to bring messages from God's Word.
Our Internal Audit Department exercises effective internal financial control through Audit and evaluation and appraisal of the activities/operation of the Central Office and Auxiliaries
Accounts of Auxiliaries and Shillong Translations Centre are audited in regular intervals to ensure proper financial management and suggest corrective measures wherever necessary.
The Internal Audit is engaged in routine pre-audit of print orders of Production Department, follow-up of Internal Audit Reports, scrutiny of Customer's Outstanding, Cost Analysis of Bibles and New Testaments, Expenses analysis of BSI operation and other related functions in the Central Office.
In order to cater to the needs of the large number of illiterates, the Media department provides the Word of God in various media formats. Although a lot of people prefer printed Scriptures, the percentage of illiterates and the paradigm shift from reading to listening and viewing has opened avenues for Scriptures in Audio, Visual and other media. In this scenario the Media department has more opportunity to reach out to people through various other media. Apart from catering to the needs of the illiterates it also caters to the needs of non-readers and neo literates including the visually handicapped people.
The Special Audience department is primarily involved in the development of new Scriptures to meet the ever growing Scripture needs of Churches, Mission Agencies and Christian Organisations.
To meet this objective, the department continuously does qualitative and quantitative research to ascertain the special Scriptures needed. The department has pioneered the development of a wide range of new Scriptures for different audiences like the visually challenged, terminally ill, victims of HIV, semi-literate and rural audience, hearing impaired etc.
Bible World and Archives
The Bible World is a permanent exhibition set up at the Central Office in Bangalore which includes the Bible History, Antique Bibles, Bibles in various languages of India & foreign language Bibles, the Bible in stamps, a museum of artifacts, model of Bible land and touch screen computers for children.
Many visitors from India and abroad are visiting the Bible World, regular visitors being Theological College Students, Church members, VBS and Sunday School students, and general public.
In our Archives in the Central Office, we preserve documents such as Letters, Reports, Minutes, Registers, Maps, Photographs & films, Manuscripts, etc., of historical value related to the BSI & The Bible and also different versions/language Bibles & Bible related books.
These priceless documents are made available to those interested in research, translation or linguistic studies.