Oral Bible

Oral Bible Translation (OBT) is a cutting-edge development in missions, combining innovative Orality methodology and traditional Bible Translation principles. OBT seeks to capture the information contained in every Scripture passage and deliver it naturally to oral learning communities – through the expression they understand best. As with all of Spoken’s programs, our OBT team works with local community partners and indigenous leaders to ensure accuracy and effectiveness. Although each Oral Bible Translation project is unique, our process focuses on the following four principles:

OBT allows God's Word to overcome language barriers and learning barriers, so the focus is entirely on God's message rather than the medium through which it comes.

Principle #1: Community Creation

Each OBT project involves a wide segment of the community in the development of the translation. The first draft is produced by a translation team of mother-tongue speakers who carefully work through an internalization process – allowing them to retell the passage to one another as if it was delivered by God for the first time in their own language. Then, these drafts move through a series of community review cycles designed to allow the existing Christian community (and non-Christian community members) to provide input and correction.

Principle #2: Naturalness

In the drafting process, translators focus on what the Biblical passage is saying (more than how it is said), allowing for an oral process of communication to make natural connections between thoughts and ideas. This inherent naturalness of construction allows people to easily remember a passage and interact with the concepts of Scripture with minimum interference that can arise from unnatural information presentation.

Principle #3: Shareability

Oral Bible Translation creates content that can be processed by the entire community – no one needs to learn a new skill set to access the message of Scripture. The message is available to the entire community and can be shared by anyone. An oral delivery of Scripture allows every member of the community to confidently share the information they receive because they are capable of doing the same thing that brought them the message of Scripture.

Principle #4: Great Impact Potential

The three previous factors of community creation, naturalness, and shareability, combine to remove many of the social and cross-cultural barriers that are inherent in text-based translation efforts. Whenever people can interact directly with the ideas and concepts of Scripture unhindered by communication style issues, the message of God can go directly to the heart and thoughts of those interacting with God’s truth.
Additionally, each OBT program provides local leaders with training, operational assistance, and ongoing oversight to ensure all challenges associated with language translation are appropriately addressed. The team is constantly mentoring project team members so that they can progressively assume more of the responsibility and prepare themselves to help other languages within their area.

The Oral Bible Translation Program is how we TRANSLATE Truth

in order to MULTIPLY disciples.

Thomas - Director of Oral Bible Translation

Thomas Hong


Impact Stories

One of the Ncircire translators shared her excitement about these Bible passages being hers -- that she can now recount the passages naturally and will even sing them while walking down the road. She said, “It makes me feel free to use my own language. I want all my people to hear the stories.” One of the Shua translators teaches the passages in the church he attends, and he exclaimed with a big smile, “We have such great attendance only because we can tell these scripture passages in our heart language now!”
Reported by Durk, Spoken OBT Consultant
I am so happy to hear the message of King Solomon, in a language that I can understand simply and clearly. I used to read the Bible in another language, but sometimes it was too difficult for me to comprehend, and I believe, because of this translation, many people will be able to better understand God’s Word.”
North Africa
Najlaa, a housewife, helped with an Oral Bible Translation community review check and was presented with the story of Joseph for feedback. She listened to the Bible story for more than half an hour and said she enjoyed listening to the audio story because it was easy to follow and understand. She noted that she gets stuck with some difficult concepts and expressions when she reads the Bible, making her lose interest in reading. But with the oral translation of Bible stories into her heart language, she can easily listen and comprehend with no barriers!

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