United Bible Societies claims to be “the largest translator and distribution of Scripture on the planet,” providing approximately 70% of the world’s complete Bible translations.
With a total of 38.6 million full Bible distributed, 2017 was the third year in a row that worldwide distribution exceeded 34 million. The expanding reach of technology in Bible distribution is clear when the UBS noted that slightly more than 20% of Bibles distributed through its affiliated societies were unique, online downloads. That’s nearly 8 million downloads.
Nearly half of the Bible societies make the Scriptures instantly available across hundreds of websites and mobile apps. By the end of 2017, the Digital Bible Library®, a repository of Scripture translations, maintained in part by the UBS, was the storehouse for more than 1,700 Scripture texts in 1,269 different languages.
When limiting the count to printed Scriptures, five countries accounted for more than 40% of the Bible distributed.
First-time translations into 20 different languages were made available in 2017 whilst the UBS assisted in the completion of 49 other translations that had already been in process.
To put this into perspective, there are 7,097 known spoken languages in the world. UB statistics indicate that, through their efforts, 1,515 languages have at least a complete New Testament. The entire Bible, or portions of it, is available in 674 languages. The total number of people in these combined language groups is 6.3 billion.
One of the major obstacles is that 209 million people still have no translation of any portion of Scripture available in their own language. They speak a total of nearly 3,800 languages.
The UBS is currently working on more than 400 Bible translation projects, including versions in sign language and in Braille. There are approximately 70 million hearing and 285 million visually impaired people in the world.
The vision of UBS is to reach the goal of making the entire Bible available in the language of choice for everyone in the world God so loves.
- Christian News Wire, Global Scripture Distribution Report 2017
- United Bible Societies, Scripture Distribution Report 2017: One in five Bibles distributed online
- The Digital Bible Library, A global repository for scripture translations
- United Bible Societies, Key facts about the Bible access