Mnema Bible

  • Location: Asia
  • Bible Completion Dates: 2019 and 2022

The Mnema (mnay’-mah) people (a pseudonym) reside in Asia and number about 1,760,000 with 20,000 professing Christianity. According to the 2011 census, Christianity closely follows the national religion, while other prominent religions include Islam, Sanamahism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Despite their variety of religious practices, the Mnema people experience unity and harmony because of their common heritage and language.

William Carey translated the original Mnema Bible in 1827, which is now only seen and read in museums. However, it was the first American missionary to the Mnema people, William Pettigrew, who developed the first Mnema dictionary in 1895. In 1936, Baptist Mid-Missions missionaries began to translate the Mnema New Testament in the state script. The local Bible society took the manuscript of this translation and printed the first Mnema New Testament in 1969, and those missionaries, with the help of native speakers, began translating the Old Testament in 1971. After the founding of Bibles International in 1981, the national translation team started a new Mnema Bible translation in 1982. Meanwhile, the local Bible society finished the Old Testament and published the first Mnema Bible in the state script in 1984. However, as the churches matured and grew in their knowledge and understanding, they discovered many translation problems, such as errors and omissions with the current translation, particularly in the Old Testament. Finally, after more than two decades of labor, the translation team completed the new Mnema Bible in the state script in 2010.

The ancient language and script of Mnema was used for more than 3,500 years until the 18th century, when a new state script began to replace it. Schools and colleges began to teach the ancient script again in 2006, and the use of the ancient script has quickly surpassed that of the state script. As a result, young people today can no longer read books and newspapers published in the state script, including the Mnema Bible.

As the stock of 2010 Mnema Bibles diminished, the question arose over which script to use for the reprint. Many pastors who cannot read the state script desire to use a Mnema Bible in Roman script, because of the difficulties and inconveniences caused by translating the Mnema Bible from the pulpit while preaching and teaching. Bible teachers who cannot read the state script also face difficulties conducting vernacular short term Bible schools. Taking these concerns into consideration, the translation team decided to slightly revise and reprint the Mnema Bible in the state script for the older generation, and then transliterate that state script revised Bible into Roman script for the younger generation. The Mnema held a dedication for the revised Bible on August 29, 2019, with all of the translation team members from 2010 present. The transliteration into Roman script was completed in 2022.