The Dedication of an Old Friend, the Tagalog New Testament

Only a few of our Bible translations bear the fingerprints of many generations at Bibles International; the Tagalog New Testament is one such project. Begun in 1986 and published it in 1998, the first edition spans the first two decades of our existence, involving such people as Fred Carlson, Henry Osborn, and Ross Hodsdon. The second edition began in 2011 and was published late last year. This fourth decade of BI's existence enabled an almost entirely new generation of BI members to get involved, though Ross Hodsdon joined in once again. So, you can imagine the delight we experienced when we saw this "old friend" once again ready to be dedicated earlier this year.

The second edition enters into a world in which many Tagalog versions are now available in bookstores. The context of the first edition, however, looked much different. The translations that preceded it (the first being published in 1905) were based on either Latin or English translations, lacked thorough quality control, and in some cases, did not express the meaning of the original texts clearly. When our Tagalog translation was first published in 1998, thanks to the initiative by Maranatha Bible Missions, many pastors and laypeople embraced it with open arms. They finally had an accurate and clear New Testament they could trust.

Tens of thousands of copies were distributed in those early years, and it was imported to But by 2009, all copies were sold out. We could have just reprinted more, but as we did research in the Philippines, it quickly became apparent that our New Testament needed to be revised. Though many more Tagalog translations were in existence by this time, many pastors and churches maintained strong loyalty to our translation, especially since it's still the clearest one based on the Textus Receptus. Because of our commitment to serve local churches, we decided we needed to launch a revision project. So, in 2011 a revision team received training and began their work. The project faced many challenges and setbacks, as do all our projects, but thankfully, the revision process came to completion in 2020, in spite of the pandemic.

The dedications this year occurred at the two centers of interest in the Philippines: Palawan island, where the first edition was launched; and Manila, where many of the leaders of the revision project live. People were thrilled to receive their own copies of the revised New Testament, and they were thankful to see the addition of such things as book introductions, charts of weights and measures, a glossary, and a topical index. Believers are distributing the translation to the 20 million speakers in the Philippines as well as to the large diaspora in other countries. Praise God that one of BI’s "old friends" is now back in the hands of those to whom it belongs!