The Bible is the primary reference for the church with regards to the understanding and practice of the Christian faith. An accurate and scholarly translation of the Bible in the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu, BM) for the use of the majority of Christians in Malaysia who use this language, consisting mostly of the Bumiputera brethren (“sons of the soil”), has been a pressing need for a good number of years.
Even though there is an Indonesian translation which is currently being used by the Malay speaking Christians, the differences in form, words and phrases poses an impediment for our brethren to fully grasp the depth and extent of the Word of God.
The Alkitab Bahasa Melayu which is also in circulation today is not a translation from the original language of Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament, and thus has its shortcomings that needed to be addressed.
Thus, a concerted effort of local Malaysians and friends from overseas had undertaken this momentous task of producing a translation largely based on the original language which is both accurate and robust in its scholarship. The formal Malay language was used in this translation effort that began more than 15 years ago.
As the translation neared completion in the year 2014, issues of authorship, ownership, printing and distribution became more imminent. The translators realised that an initiative from East Malaysia that housed the majority of Malay-speaking Christians was needed to embrace this new translation and guard its use. They approached a few bodies and groups to see who was responsive to take up this important task both in West and East Malaysia but closed doors seemed to inhibit its acceptance.
Meanwhile, quite independently, on the shores of Sabah, East Malaysia, God had been moving the heart of a leading evangelical denomination leader, Reverend Jerry Dusing of Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) which is predominantly BM speaking, to try and find some party to undertake the task of translating the BM Bible. He tried to approach different groups of people and even went as far as South Korea searching in vain for a viable translator.
It was then that a mutual friend introduced the group of translators who were looking for a reputable body to not only endorse but also print the ‘Bibles which were near completion. The two parties eventually met up in West Malaysia and immediately they realised that God had intervened miraculously in bringing them together.
This was how the initiative from Sabah stepped forward and affirmed their commitment to undertake this responsibility of printing and distributing the new BM Bible. The idea of Literature and Bible Network (LAB Network) was mooted and a loose committee was formed to plan and move this project forward to its eventual completion. This is, thus, a joint initiative from East and West Malaysia- – a truly Malaysian endeavour.
On the 27th January 2015, the LAB committee had its first meeting in Sabah to discuss its function, processes and initiatives. The vision of LAB Network was expanded to encompass the general function of producing all kinds of scholarly materials in BM for the use of the Malay-speaking Christian community. For example, Bible dictionaries, Greek Interlinear, concordances and study Bibles based on the LAB Alkitab will eventually be produced.
The vision of LAB Network is thus to enhance biblical scholarship amongst the Bahasa Malaysia speaking Christian community by making available biblical literatures of the highest quality in Bahasa Malaysia and to nurture the development of biblical scholars amongst the gifted BM speaking Christians.
Thus, the focus of LAB Network is not just on a local version of Alkitab, but it is also on producing other Christian literature for the benefit of the churches in Malaysia and beyond.
The printing of the first edition of the Alkitab Versi Borneo (AVB) of 10,000 copies was quickly snapped up by the BM reading community after its launch on 19th April 2016 in Kota Kinabalu. The android App was also launched at the same event and it has been downloaded by thousands since then.
After a slight revision of its text, a second print will be undertaken on the second half of the year 2016 as there is a great demand for the printed text. A cheap student edition and a AVB-NIV bilingual edition will be part of the second print.
As the AVB gains traction among the BM speaking Christians, it is hoped that Christians will read and understand God’s Word with greater clarity and accuracy so that Biblical literacy will increase in the coming years ushering a generation of BM speaking believers who are mature, robust and resilient in their faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. Amen.
Anyone who wishes to donate towards the second printing can write for further details to Email: t.heights. firstname.lastname@example.org
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 can be read online, see AlkitabVersiBorneo.org
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