Launching the new Malay Bible Alkitab Versi Borneo (AVB) in Peninsular Malaysia
The new Malay Bible, known as Alkitab Bible Borneo (AVB), is a formal translation that took more than 15 years to complete. Started in 1998, the nucleus team of key translators had a single-minded focus – to produce a high-quality Bahasa Malaysia translation for modern readers.
Since the hardcopy circulation began in February 2016, AVB enjoyed a momentous reception. In West Malaysia, many readers who love the language read it with tears of joy. In East Malaysia, it was so right and automatic for readers to feel an euphoric sense of ownership, of a Borneo Bible in highly readable yet fluent Malay.
The significance of AVB is also felt in other ways. People are proud that eminently-qualified linguists with fluency in classical and modern Malay helped define and distinguish the translation, while some of the best local Biblical translators poured in their focus, time and effort. The Greek/Hebrew scholars who served as consultants understood the Malay language. Language reviewers and checkers were unrelenting in their commitment.
Like never before, many national leaders came forward during the launch to openly declare support, and many spiritual leaders went on to acclaim the AVB as historically significant.
Alkitab Versi Borneo has the hallmarks of a good translation – accuracy, clarity, naturalness and acceptability. A new generation will enjoy God’s Word in Bahasa Malaysia.
Stephen Ng (writer and media consultant) was there to report on the 25th May launch:I count myself to be very privileged to be invited to the launch of the Alkitab Versi Borneo (AVB) on May 25, 2016.
Although I had heard about the translation work that was kickstarted more than 10 years ago from one of the key translators, it was in the backburner all these years, as I never get to hear about it anymore, until Datuk Kenny Ng mentioned about it recently again. Finally, the invitation came!
The moment the ceremony began, I could sense an awesome feeling welling deep within me. As the event unfolded, as if I was there, sitting in the midst of the Israelites, just as Ezra unscrolled the Torah to read for the first time since the exile, the launch of the AVB amidst heads of churches, pastors and church leaders in the audience, gave me an awesome feeling that the Word of God was for the first time given to Malaysians. East and West, we are one nation, and Bahasa Malaysia is the lingua franca of over 27 million Malaysians.
It is not that Malaysians do not already have the entire Bible in the local language that could be considered contemporary and theologically sound, but the unveiling of the AVB marked the dawning of a new era. As Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing said in his keynote address, he had felt a compelling need to have a version of the Bible in the local language that God’s people fluent in the national language can relate to, yet it has to be theologically sound. After the AVB, he hopes to see a dictionary of theological words in Bahasa Malaysia, as well as an interlinear Malay-Greek/Malay-Hebrew Bible, so that theological education in the people’s language could eventually blossom.
As if God was the one directing the entire process, Dusing’s burden brought him to a small team of Christians from Semenanjung who were already working on the translation. By then, the team had completed the whole of the New Testament, and a significant number of books from the Old Testament. The translation work, which went through many rounds of consultation with experts in the Old and New Testament, provided a good framework for what we hope to see in the future: sound theological education based on Bahasa Malaysia. In a way, it also fulfilled one of the objectives set by the Bible Society, and Bishop Ng Moon Hing was quick to say, “Translating the Bible in as many local languages and dialects was supposed to be our task, but it was already completed by a group of volunteers at no expense to the Bible Society!”
For this reason, a simple gesture of handing over the AVB to a younger generation of believers by the older leaders representing the Malaysian church was symbolic of King David passing on the baton to his son Solomon to build the temple of the Lord. It is hoped that the younger generation of believers will be able to build on the foundation that has been laid, and allow God’s word to be spread far and wide across the nation.
As a whole, all glory to God in the heavens, through whom all blessings flow. Certainly, with the ferocious reading of the AVB, the church of Jesus Christ will see a new wave of excitement in the years ahead.
Note: AVB Android App is available in Google Play Store. Search for it with words like “BM Bibile, “AVB” or “Borneo Bible”
Alkitab Versi Borneo is historically significant as the first formal translation Bahasa Malaysia Bible. The online version is available on alkitabversiborneo.org , which also provide pioneering Bahasa Malaysia biblical resources based on the AVB text.
The President of the Trinity Annual Conference of the Methodist Church of Malaysia, Rev. T. Jeyakumar, says:
“I have been telling many folks that while many translations speak to the mind, the AVB speaks to my heart.”
The AVB is truly a ‘gift’ to our Bahasa Malaysia-speaking brethren. Read more on the miracle story of the The AVB Project in http://alkitabversiborneo.org/about-us/the-avb-project/.
*AVB is online: alkitabVersiBorneo.org