Shared with just one click! That’s all it takes for translators, consultants, committee members, and others to share with one another their contributions to a Bible translation project. People who are separated by vast distances can now be brought together at Bibles International by our use of Paratext, a text-editing program designed specifically for Bible translation. This software has been around for a number of years, but it was cost-prohibitive for BI until just a few years ago. Since then, we have been gradually moving all of our texts out of Microsoft Word and Bibledit (another Bible editing program) and into Paratext. We even have our translator helps and add-ons (e.g., book introductions, glossary, etc.) in the program—in English, French, and Spanish—available to share with our translators with just a click. Translators can also access other translations produced by BI and other Bible societies, as well as the Hebrew and Greek texts—with interlinears (word-for-word translations into a language consultants know) for most of them.
Not only does Paratext make collaboration simple, it also aids significantly with the management of details. The incredible amount of details involved in Bible translation is basically impossible to maintain without the help of computers. Paratext has tools designed to keep track of almost all the Bible translation details: the choice of letters, spelling consistency of words, decisions concerning key terms, proper capitalization and punctuation, consistent rendering of parallel passages, management of project planning and assignments, and so much more.
Such a program sounds complicated, and it is. However, a translator can start at a very basic mode and just type his text into the white space after the verse number. Then, slowly he can take advantage of more and more tools. The interface is available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, and a few other languages, so all of our translators can begin using the program. Our translators in Chad have had the greatest number of challenges, since most of them had never even used a computer before and have had no access to sufficient electricity in their villages, until recently when it was made possible through solar-charged batteries. But after they began in basic mode and received training in December 2017, they have gradually become more proficient—just in time to begin quality checks on their Bibles (the first of which will be published within the next couple of years).
At BI, we are committed to producing quality translations, because then the truths of God's Word can shine the most brightly and capture people's hearts by its beauty. Paratext does not do the translation or consulting for us, but it makes producing quality Bible translations efficiently more attainable.
Many gifted people dedicated themselves to developing such a program to enhance Bible translation. Future opportunities await. BI needs IT support to help us as we develop new tools and maintain what we currently have. Pray that God will provide a new IT coordinator to meet this urgent need.