"If we don't start now, we will have nothing in 30 years." The statement came from a Polish theology student as he spoke with ITMI's founder, Bill Bathman during one of his visits to Poland.
The student was ITMI's Piotr Zaremba.
The pair were discussing the need for a translation of the Bible that everyday, modern Poles could read and understand. A version of the Bible that was faithful to salvation by grace alone through faith.
It was ironic that he chose 30 as the number of years to insert in that sentence.
After 16 years of translating and roughly thirty years after that conversation, Piotr visited the US and placed a printed copy of the literary translation of the Bible in Polish in Bill's hands!
It's publication was a momentous occasion, commemorated by the assembly of over 800 evangelical believers in Poznan, Poland - which in itself it remarkable.
Only one half of one-percent of Poland's population are evangelical. That means evangelical churches are small. An evangelical church of 120 is considered quite large. So getting 800 evangelicals in one place was quite historical.
Piotr addresses the audience of 800 evangelicals.
Photo courtesy of Studio W Butelce
But it was only the first step in a multi-tiered project.
After the printed copies of the literary translation landed on Piotr's door in July of 2016 - just in time for ITMI to celebrate its own 35th Anniversary - many wondered, "What will Piotr do now?"
He had been simultaneously translating a literal version, a translation that would fuel in-depth study of God's Word with 20k footnotes giving alternative translations, cultural background, and spiritual insights, plus maps, manuscript information, and sources!
What is meant by "literary" and "literal"?
A literary translation is designed for easier reading. A literal translation is meant for in-depth study, and might be compared to the English Standard Version available to the English-speaking world.
The translation of this second version was complete in January of this year. The electronic version is now available for download!
Already, people can't say enough good things.
One seminary teacher from another denomination has already shared with Piotr,
"It is with great joy that I bought your literal translation of the Bible today.
I would like to express my immense gratitude for this incredible work and everything that you’ve been doing for the Polish Bible readers.
The Word of God has been my passion for a long time now. I remember the exact moment I came across your translation of the New Testament some three years ago.
It was like discovering the Word of God completely anew, with fresh eyes. Once I started reading, I literally couldn’t put it down. I think I must have been reading till four o’clock in the morning!
I always love to watch the students do a double take when they start reading St. Paul in your translation. They can hardly believe their eyes!
The Bible we use in our liturgy isn’t the most fortunate translation, to put it mildly. Paul’s epistles especially have been rendered quite weakly. That’s why I’m just so happy now to have the literal translation at our disposal."
Meanwhile, as users download this version for their smartphones, tablets and computers, the print version is being prepared.
What's left to do?
The short answer is typesetting and proofing.
Most of the proofing must be done manually. With human hands and eyes. It will be a painstaking process, and one that needs the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
“This translation happened because you supported us through prayer and giving,” Piotr asserted over and over while he was visiting the States in February of this year. He went on to explain that 4 or 5 years before Piotr started translating, another group in Poland had started translating the Bible
Piotr and his team have achieved two translations, meanwhile, the other group hasn't finished one.
We're not knocking that group. Their contribution of another translation will be a blessing to the Polish people and will aid the translators of the future.
What we're saying is that this is what support means. Your support meant Piotr has the means to focus on translation.
At one point, Piotr wrote to his supporters that he was "nailed to his desk." He wasn't over-exaggerating. Most days, Piotr translated 18 hours.
Because of that focus, it went from a theoretical thing "someone should do" to a real and tangible gift to the Polish people, one that they will continue to benefit from for generations.
The gift of the literal translation is projected to be in print by October of this year. Piotr asks for our prayer support for two things:
- Ask God to give those proofing His eyes to catch all that needs to be caught.
- Pray for the provision of the remaining funds (about $17,000) needed to complete this translation by the October 2018 goal.
"I'm looking for partners. Not wallets," Piotr says. Partners who want to be instrumental in changing how an entire nation views Christ. Piotr explains how most Poles view Christ and the Bible in this one minute video.
Having access to an understandable version of the Bible is already beginning to erode at these misconceptions and lies as people discover the freedom Christ offers them.
Thank you for being part of this project that has led so many to knowing Jesus for who He says He is in His Word! This translation wouldn't be circulating Poland if not for your partnership!