New Estonian language Bible translation planned for 2039

The first Estonian language translation of the Bible.
The first Estonian language translation of the Bible. Source: ERR

A new translation of the Bible (Piibel) will be ordered to mark the 300th anniversary of the first Estonian-language edition of the Bible.

Representatives of churches, the state, local governments and universities have signed an agreement to start preparing the translation as a public undertaking.

The first Estonian-language translation of the Bible was printed in 1739 and was published in Northern Estonian and it was then decided to make Northern Estonian Estonia's written language, reported ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Wednesday.

The Estonian translation of the Bible was written in Tallinn's Old Town in a building now used as Tallinn's Old Town School for Adults. The joint agreement was signed in the same building on Wednesday.

The Jubilee Bible Cooperation Council (Juubelipiibli koostöökogu) also held its first meeting on Wednesday.

"If we get the structure in place and maybe some kind of timetable for how we can get Estonian people involved, then this is the first step," said Tiit Salumäe, chairman of the Estonian Bible Society.

The new translation is needed because over time language changes and what was once understood by everyone can seem awkward and comical.

"You can approach the Bible from different points of view. You can try to translate it very accurately and verbatim. But you can also try to convey this message in a way that is quite similar to what it once was," said Toomas Paul, a theologian and translator of the New Testament.

Paul together with Uku Masing translated a newer version in 1989. The last Bible translation was published in 1997.

A Bible translator must be a strong theologian with a good knowledge of the language. It is not yet known who will carry out the new translation.

"I think this is a high school student whose eyes are starting to shine and is starting to study. It could be someone from the younger generation. We are talking about 2039. There is time," said Salumäe.

The first Estonian-language translation of the bible. Source: ETV


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Editor: Helen Wright

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