Why Worldwide Bible Translation Grows Exponentially

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-180
Journal / PublicationJournal of Religious History
Issue number2
Online published12 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018



The number of languages into which the Bible has been translated has grown exponentially during the past 2,300 years. The history of Bible translation can be divided into three periods of growth, each with its distinct limiting and driving forces. In the low-growth period between 260 BCE and 1814 CE growth was constrained by the rise of Islam and later by the information monopoly of the Catholic Church. The year 1815 was the inflection point, at which annual growth rates rose from below 1 to above 1 per cent. The century 1815-1914 was a period of substantial growth due to the co-occurrence of three driving forces: Christian revivalism, internationalisation, and industrialisation. This was followed by a third period-the era of explosive growth between 1915 and today-in which information technology and the organisational structure of translation agencies have spurred growth. An array of multinational organisations of Anglo-Saxon origin have created a quasi-monopoly for worldwide Bible translation. The exponential growth of worldwide Bible translation can be modelled by a mathematical function. Using this function and assuming the continuation of current trends, it is possible to project the end of the history of pioneer Bible translation sometime between 2026 and 2031.

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