Rathawi Bible Translation Project

Profile of the Rathawa-speaking People

Location:

  • Gujarat State in Western India

Language Family:

  • Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Bhil

Speakers:

  • 443,000 (Joshua Project)

Religion:

  • 99% Hindu
  • 0.14% Christian

Literacy Rate:

  • 37%

Existing Bible Translations:

  • No published Scripture except for the four Gospels

 

Overview

The Rathawa people live in the Gujarat State in Western India and are mostly animistic or Hindu. In the early 18th century, European missionaries planted Presbyterian churches. Now Church of North India, Methodist, and Roman Catholics are the major denominations in Gujarat. There has been significant persecution towards all attempts to evangelize the Rathawa in the past because the Gospel was not presented with “cultural sensitivity”. In spite of this, there are an estimated 1000 believers, 24 churches, and 16 pastors/evangelists of varying denominations.

There are no Scriptures in Rathawi other than the four Gospels. Most church services are conducted in Gujarati and/or Hindi. Although it has not been officially recognized by the Indian government, Rathawi is spoken by both children and adults within their villages. Having the Scriptures in Rathawi would strengthen the Rathawi churches.

Prince Joseph is an Indian national church planter working among the Rathawa people. He has an extensive list of linguistic degrees up to the Doctorate level, and his wife Jennitha has degrees in Education as well as others. Along with their language learning, the Josephs have laid an excellent foundation for the translation process. They have created literacy materials, composed songs in Rathawi, translated Bible verses in Rathawi, and conducated Scripture memorization programs. The Josephs have gotten the Rathawas excited about the need for Scripture in their mother tongue and approached BI for help in translating the New Testament into the Rathawi language. BI adopted this project April 2014.

 

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