First Full Bible for Aborigines Aims to Reach the 'Insides'

( [email protected] ) May 10, 2007 11:51 AM EDT

After nearly 30 years and more than 100 linguists, the first full Bible for Australia’s aborigines is now available.

The Bible in Kriol, the most widely-spoken indigenous language in Australia, was launched on Saturday at the 40th Katherine Christian Convention in Australia, according to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“They actually now have access to the entire text of the Christian Bible,” said Phillip Zamagias, director of the Bible Society in the Northern Territory in Australia, to ABC. “It means they can read it for themselves.

“They can really understand it and they can make their own choices about whether they want to follow Jesus as their Lord and savior,” he added.

It is noted that most of Australia’s 500,000 indigenous people adhere to the Christian faith, but they speak hundreds of different languages and dialects making the translation process a difficult task, according to BBC.

Kriol is often mistaken to be somewhat similar to English, there are often words that sound similar but have different meaning, explained Margaret Mickan, one of the translation project’s coordinators, to BBC.

As a result, translators emphasized that they strived to translate the Bible not just literally but culturally.

For instance, the Gunwinggu people do not associate the heart with the emotion of love, explained linguist Peter Carroll. Instead they use a word that means “insides.”

“So that to love God with all your heart was to want God with all your insides, and it was that use of the word ‘insides,’ not the word ‘heart,’ that established the right connection with emotions and made the translations effective,” explained Carroll.

The service at the launch event was conducted in Kriol with the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Philip Freier.