The Bible was translated into 66 new languages by 2020, despite the pandemic. By early 2021, the complete Bible was available in 704 languages used by approximately 6.1 billion people.

The Bible is translated into how many languages?

The various Bible Societies around the world have completed the translation of Bible books into 66 new languages by 2020, according to the United Bible Societies (UBS). Despite the disruptions caused by Covid-19, the Scriptures were translated into 46 languages for the first time. 

"Potentially 13 million people have Bible texts in their language for the first time," the Swiss Bible Society said in a press release issued on March 23. Eleven primary translations of the New Testament into languages used by four million people were also completed in 2020.

By the beginning of 2021, the complete Bible is available in 704 languages used by about 6.1 billion people. Another 889 million people also have the New Testament in their language. 

There are 484 million of a portion of Scripture. However, more than half of the 7,360 languages listed in the world today have no Bible text, specifies the Swiss Bible Society. Finally, almost 1.7 billion people still do not have the complete Bible in their language.

Curiosities about the principles of Bible translation

The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Today it can be read, in whole or in part, in about 3,000 languages. The vast majority of Bible readers do not understand the original languages, forcing them to use a translation. What principles should guide the work of Bible translation and how have these principles been applied to this version: The Bible. New World Translation?

One might think that a literal, word-for-word translation, similar to an interlinear version, conveys to the reader the closest idea to what the original languages express. However, this is not always the case. Here are some reasons why:

No two languages are absolutely identical in terms of grammar, vocabulary and syntax. One Hebrew teacher, an expert in the field, wrote that languages "differ not only in grammar and roots, but also in the way ideas fit together to form a sentence. 

Each language, therefore, appeals to specific mental patterns. "This is why, the forms of a sentence vary across languages. 

No modern language has a vocabulary and grammar strictly equivalent to that of Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. A word-for-word translation would therefore run the risk of being unclear or even inaccurate.

The meaning of a word or phrase can vary depending on the context.

It is possible, in some passages, to reproduce verbatim the wording of the original language, but the translator must do so with the utmost caution.


Here are some examples of word-for-word translations that can be misinterpreted:

The Bible uses the terms "sleep" and "slumber" to refer to both actual sleep and the sleep of death (Matthew 28:13; Acts 7:60). When these terms are used in a context related to death, translators may opt for formulations such as "falling asleep in death," which avoids any confusion in the mind of the modern reader (1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ; 2 Peter 3:4).

In Ephesians 4:14, the apostle Paul used an expression literally translatable as "men's game of dice." This idiomatic turn of the time alludes to a practice of cheating at the game of dice. In most languages, a literal translation is incomprehensible. This expression can be more clearly translated as "the deceit of men."

In Romans 12:11 , we find a Greek phrase that translates literally into Portuguese as "in the fervent spirit." But such a formulation does not restore the intended meaning. That is why this edition has chosen "overflowing with zeal thanks to the spirit.

What a reliable translation should contain 

  • Sanctify God's name by restoring it to its rightful place in Scripture (Matthew 6:9).
  • To accurately convey the original message inspired by God (2 Tim 3:16).
  • Render sentences verbatim when the syntax and grammar of the target language allow.
  • To convey the real meaning of a word or phrase when a literal translation distorts or obscures the idea.
  • Use natural, accessible language that encourages reading (Nehemiah 8:8, 12).