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Translations

Northern Sotho Bible Translation

Northern Sotho is the home language of 4 208 980 people in South Africa and is mostly spoken in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

The translation of the Bible into Northern Sotho was first attempted by the missionaries of the Berlin Missionary Society. The pioneer translator was Pastor J F C Knothe.

Important dates in the history of the Northern Sotho Bible:

1890 First Scripture to be published - The New Testament
London: British and Foreign Bible Society.
Translated by J F C Knothe of the Berlin Evangelical Missionary Society.
1904 First Bible
Berlin: Berlin Missionary Society
After the death of Pastor Knothe in 1892, the translation work was continued by G Trümpelmann and H Kuschke, assisted by A Serote and G Eiselen.
1951 Revision of the Bible
London: British and Foreign Bible Society
The Bible translation was revised and put into a new orthography by Dr P E Schwellnuss and a committee.
2000 Latest translation of the Bible
Cape Town: Bible Society of South Africa
Translated by Rev J M Louw, the exegete and project co-ordinator, Fr M Teffo and Rev J S Ramoba, assisted by various scholars and linguists.
 

Southern Sotho Bible Translation

Some 3 555 186 people in South Africa speak Southern Sotho as their home language and the majority of Southern Sotho speakers live in the Free State. It is also spoken in Lesotho.

Eugène Casalis and Samuel Rolland, two missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, started translating the Bible into Southern Sotho as early as 1836.

Important dates in the history of the Southern Sotho Bible:

1839 First books of the Bible to be published - Gospels of Mark & John.
Cape Town: Richert and Pike (for Paris Evangelical Missionary Society)
Translated by Eugène Casalis and Samuel Rolland respectively.
1855 First New Testament
Beerseba: Paris Evangelical Missionary Society
Translated by Eugène Casalis and Samuel Rolland.
1878 First Bible
By 1878 the complete Bible was translated by missionaries of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, including Emile Rolland, T Arbousset, DF Ellenberger, J Maitin, HM Dyke, A Mabile, L Cochet and L Duvoisin, and printed on the missionary presses at Morija and Masitisi.
1881 First Bible published in one volume.
London: British and Foreign Bible Society
Due to the Basotho wars the Bibles only reached the Basotho in 1883.
1989 Latest translation of the Bible
Cape Town: Bible Society of South Africa
Translated by Dr AA Odendaal, Mr EM Thakodi, Rev MJ Mopeli, Mr BM Khaketla and Bishop IM Phakoe.
 

Xhosa Bible Translation

Xhosa is the home language of some 7 907 153 South Africans. Most of them live in the Eastern Cape.

The earliest Bible translation into Xhosa was mainly the work of missionaries of the Wesleyan Missionary Society (WMS), like William Shaw, William Boyce and others.

Important dates in the history of the Xhosa Bible:

1833 First Book of the Bible to be translated - Gospel according to Luke
Grahamstown: WMS
Translated mainly by William B Boyce, William Shaw and W J Shrewsbury.
1846 First New Testament
Newton Dale: WMS
Translated and revised by Henry H Dugmore, William J Davis, John Ayliff, Joseph C Warner of the Wesleyan Missionary Society, James Laing, Bryce Ross of the Glasgow Missionary Society and C W Posselt and Jakob L Döhne of the Berlin Missionary Society.
1859 First Bible
Mount Coke: WMS
The Old Testament, mainly translated by John W Appleyard of the Wesleyan Missionary Society and Albert Kropf of the Berlin Missionary Society, was printed in sections on the missionary press at Mount Coke between 1857 to 1859. The complete Xhosa Bible had now been translated into Xhosa.
1864 First Bible published in one volume
London: British and Foreign Bible Society
The text for this Bible was revised by John W Appleyard.
1996 Latest translation of the Bible
Cape Town: Bible Society of South Africa
Translated by the Rev J C Oosthuysen, project co-ordinator, Rev Z W Nkuhlu and Rev E H Dike. They were assisted by Mr H Nabe, Rev B F Mbenenge and Prof D H Odendaal.

Zulu Bible Translation

The most spoken language in South africa is Zulu. There are 10 677 305 Zulu speakers in the country and approximately 80,9% of them live in KwaZulu-Natal.

Missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) arrived in Port Natal in 1835. Newton Adams was among this group who distinguished themselves as the first translators of the Zulu Bible.

Important dates in the history of the Zulu Bible:

1848 First Book of the Bible to be translated - the Gospel according to Matthew
Pietermaritzburg: ABCFM
The 'First Book for Readers' published in 1837 contained the first samples of the Bible translated into Zulu (portions of Genesis and two Psalms) but the Gospel of Matthew was the first complete book of the Bible to be translated. It was originally translated by George Champion and revised by Newton Adams.
1865 First New Testament
Natal: American Zulu Mission
Translated by missionaries of the ABCFM.
1883 First Bible
New York: American Bible Society
Translated over the years by missionaries of the ABCFM, including George Champion, J C Bryant, Lewis Grout and J L Döhne, revised and corrected by Andrew Abraham, and finally edited for publication by S C Pixley.
1959 Latest translation of the Bible
London: British and Foreign Bible Society
Translated by Otto Sarndal and a committee including Johannes Astrup, Gustaf Krause, Heinrich Filter, S Dahle, M H Mpanze, W Weber, N C Haldersen and others.
1986 Latest translation of the New Testament and Psalms
Cape Town: Bible Society of South Africa
Translated by Dean Nils Joëlson, project co-ordinator, Mr D T Maseko and Mr K Magubane.