Online meetings and virtual conferences have become the new normal in the corporate and business world during this coronavirus pandemic. Due to government-mandated lockdowns and restrictions, digital access has also become a new trend in sharing the gospel. Demand for oral Bibles is observed to be growing too.
Spoken Worldwide said that in keeping up with requests for oral Bibles, their work is expanding. The ministry upholds oral Bible translations believing that having God’s Word should not require learning by text, Mission Network News wrote.
The ministry’s president and CEO Ed Weaver, said, “As you look at the consumption of information by people around the world, it’s continuing to grow in terms of non-text based consumption. So whether it’s online news, whether it’s streaming videos, whether it’s podcasts, whether it’s other audio content [or] audiobooks, there’s just a huge growth spurt that we all have seen happening.”
A notion that oral Bibles is only for those who cannot read is maybe true. The report said that about two-thirds of the world’s population are oral learners, people who are unable to read “and/or simply prefer not to.” Oral Bible translations are appropriate for them.
Weaver shared an example, “A friend of mine that works with YFC in Lebanon has said, ‘I’ve had to change my entire Bible study methodology so that I could disciple people better…. I’ve actually had to start listening to audio Bibles so I can then tell the people I’m discipling, ‘Why don’t you listen to this passage and then let’s discuss it.””
“That wasn’t necessarily expected. We’ve got to find ways to scale pretty quickly. So one of the challenges we face is how do we find people fast enough that can help us meet the demand for this type of content? And to be able to do that effectively? Not just scale for scale’s sake, but how do you scale with quality?” he further said.
A Bible translation expert said that learning the Bible orally is necessary in developing countries, The Christian Post reported.
Samuel E. Chiang, The Seed Company president, discussed this matter in his National Association podcast. He said that “orality” in an environment lacking written communication can be relevant in Bible learning, even for people who can read.
He said, “There are approximately 5.7 billion people who are oral learners and some of them actually highly textual, but they prefer to learn in an oral manner. People recognize that there are people in this world who we cannot reach purely by texts. What are we going to do in order to reach them?”
Chiang has campaigned for the relevance of oral translations in Bible evangelism saying, “We’ve been so textually-driven for the last 500 years. We have forgotten how people actually learn and express themselves, especially in the marketplace. Most of the Bible translation organizations are highly textual.”
“It has taken time, even for Seed Company to grapple with and come to a decision point about orality and oral Bible translation,” he further stated.
Weaver welcomes feedback from Christians who would like to share in their ministry saying, “We’ll take any kind of comments at firstname.lastname@example.org to say, ‘Have you thought about this? Would you consider this? How are you going to address this particular issue?'”