One month after Chechen terrorist held more than a thousand people hostage in the Ossetian town of Beslan in the tragedy that left more than 400 people killed, five thousand copies of the latest translation of the New Testament in Ossetic was made available to the small republic of the Russian Federation. According to the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT), the latest translation “will provide spiritual support to a population living in difficult times.”
Although Ossetic translations of the Bible date as far back as the 18th century, the last translations from the early part of the 20th century are not easy to read and are hardly understood by today’s readers.
The Institute for Bible Translation, founded in 1973, recently published the newest translation as part of its ongoing effort to translate and publish the Bible in the languages of non-Slavic peoples living in Russia and other countries of the CIS.
The newest translation, which represents the first attempt to go beyond a simple literal transposition of the content, came after ten years of work by a team of philologists and linguists “focused on the message of the written word and not the literal order of the text.”
The team based their work on the Nestle-Aland Greek edition of the New Testament, which is recognized by the Holy Synod and is the more widely used among Orthodox.
North Ossetia, whose population is predominantly Christian Orthodox, has 710,000 inhabitants, with a Muslim minority. Byzantine missionaries brought Christianity to the area in the ninth century when it was known as Alania. An archbishopric was established in western Alania under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Numerous churches were subsequently built.
During the hostage crisis in Beslan, all orthodox churches of Northern Ossetia had been holding prayer vigils for the safe release of the hostages.
More recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Russia's religious leaders warning of a surge in hate crimes in response to the recent terrorist attacks and urging church leaders to help diffuse tensions. The meeting was attended by Orthodox, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and Catholic leaders.