A new contemporary Yoruba Bible is celebrated

The Yoruba Bible celebration held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on August 7, 2020, was attended by church leaders across denominations and community leaders numbering 50 in accordance to prescribed government regulations.

In a short exhortation on the occasion, Most Rev. Latunji Lasebikan, said, “From time to time, there have been efforts to translate the Bible to reach every part of the world. We are to spread the gospel. If the Bible is not translated to different languages, this may be difficult.”

The reviewer, Mr. Patrick Adekuoroye, said whereas Bishop Crowther’s initiatives in translating the Bible into Yoruba in 1885 would continue to be appreciated, the need to birth a new Yoruba Bible translation became necessary due to the dynamic nature of the language. He said, “The way they spoke Yoruba in the past is different from the way it is being spoken today. Language is dynamic. Yoruba language scholars in the 1960s reviewed the language, but we are still using the same Bible translation worked on in 1884. Why should we keep the Yoruba Bible in the archival form? We should have the Bible written in modern Yoruba.”

Deacon Emmanuel Ubandoma, who represented the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev Supo Ayokunle, described the initiative as highly commendable, adding, “I am an indigene of Jos, Plateau State. I pray that this kind of initiative shall materialise in my own language during my lifetime.”

The General Director of Scriptures Union Nigeria, Phillips Odelana, who recalled that the newly translated Yoruba Bible would have been launched four months ago but for COVID-19, said, “This Bible gladdens my heart because, just like most of us look through translations of the English Bible to understand better what the Bible has to say, now we would be able to enrich our understanding of the Bible more in our mother tongue. I am equally gladdened by the fact that the Yoruba race scattered across Nigeria, Ghana, Republic of Benin and Togo and numbering well over 42 million will be blessed by this work directly and indirectly.”

“The Yoruba race has come a long way from the first translation of the Yoruba Bible, the work done by our father in the Lord, Rt. Rev Ajayi Crowther in 1843. Kudos to all who are contributing to lift her up higher and higher, one of which is the International Bible Society, also known as Biblica.”

Prof. Iwu Ikwubuzo, the Board Chairman, Biblica Nigeria, said that the new translation is rendered in lucid contemporary standard variety of Yoruba Language. “The presentation, dedication and unveiling of the Yoruba Bible today is a dream come true and a joyous culmination of some years of untiring efforts to have the Yoruba version of NIV Bible. For Biblica’s Ministry, work of reaching the people around the world with the life transforming word of God, translation is very strategic, critical and consistent with the current commission of Biblica.”

The lead translator of the new Bible, Dr Ezekiel Abioye, who took up the task in 1987, said the effort took about 30 years to materialize. “Within the period, I was exposed to series of training. The success of this work comes from the support of members of the team. If you can read in Yoruba, you should be able to read the new Bible.”

At the end of the event, some partners donated USD 1,000 for Biblica Nigeria’s ministry programs.

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