JCBT 2019 Summer Update

 First Fruits of Summer 2019

1. Semester Program

Semester Graduation! Mother-tongue translators from eight French-speaking countries in West Africa graduated June 25 from our Hebrew-intensive semester program, with a new understanding of the Bible’s natural context.

A first! Our students learned how to render mother-tongue translations of Biblical poetry in melodies that are true to each translator’s culture, taught by an American Bible Society Nida Institute ethnomusicologist.


* “Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. !  1 Chr. 16:8

* “Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!  1 Chr. 16:28

* “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!” 1 Chr. 16:31

King David assigned his people to give these praises to the LORD by the tabernacle in Jerusalem even before the Temple was built by Solomon. But he envisioned and invited others to join in the praises, even faraway peoples and nations!

This implies the translation of the Hebrew Bible into the languages of other peoples and nations. How else would they know to give thanks to the LORD, the God of Israel!? Consider these recent statistics of the United Bible Societies: Only 692 of the 7,350 languages of the world have the full Bible of both OT and NT. Another 1,547 languages have the New Testament but not the Hebrew Bible that Jesus read and taught and challenged us to live as He did!


After five months of intensive studies, eight West African Mother-TongueTranslators have graduated from the study program of JCBT and Rothberg International School for Overseas Students of the Hebrew University Semester Program. All will be applying what they’ve learned into translations for their communities.

The graduates: Thomas Assinga, Cameroon; Kokou Ayadome, Togo; Beya Bamouni, Burkina Faso; Djele Diaara, Mali; Luc Haman, Cameroon; Danny Kumba, Congo; Alfred Siango, Central African Republic; and Boun Adamu Tchabi, Benin.Seven of the JCBT students, Hebrew University. The tallest student, Djele, was yet to come.

The accomplishment: The students began their studies on Jan. 23, 2019, with a three-week modern Hebrew Ulpan (language school) at the Hebrew University campus on Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem. After gaining a beginning in conversational Hebrew, they were given four courses of increasingly challenging levels of Biblical Hebrew. They were taught by brilliant Israeli linguist Eyal Nachum, who has invented his own teaching method of Biblical Hebrew by immersion. Other courses covered Discourse Analysis of Biblical Hebrew and Hebrew Poetry. All together, the students were given 415 hours of Hebrew teaching. They also became familiar with the external context of the text through 18 days of extensive field trips in the Land. The translators return to their translation projects equipped to create accurate, vivid and natural translations of the Bible into their mother tongues.

Top-level instruction: JCBT is committed to a high level of teaching in its courses. Four French-speaking professors with a background in Africa were invited to teach the students and provide top-quality instruction. Two are West African themselves and two are westerners who have worked in translation many decades in Africa. Dr. Paul Mpindi (Kongo/USA) taught Biblical Hebrew grammar and texts. Dr. Samy Tioye (Burkina Faso), UBS, Global Translation Advisor, taught Discourse Analysis; Dr. Anne Kompaore (Canada/Ivory Coast)—Cultural Settings; Dr. Lynell Zogbo (USA/Ivory Coast)—Biblical Hebrew Poetry. The last three are senior experienced Bible Translation Consultants. Moreover, Dr. Zogbo, an author of books and articles on Hebrew poetry, teamed up with Dr. Dan Fitzgerald, a Consultant, and an ethnomusicologist. They taught the translators to use their own cultural melodies to sing their translations of Biblical poetical texts.

These men have sacrificed precious time away from their families and communities for the studies. Let us pray that their efforts to translate the Biblical texts will be rewarded and fruitful. Let us pray for a safe transition back to their countries and communities, since many countries in Africa are politically unstable and have seen a surge of persecution and killings of Christians.

2. ‘Land of the Bible’ Short-Term Courses

‘We never knew!’

The hilly mountains of Israel? Not the sheer slopes of Nepal! said a Nepalese national, attending a “Land of the Bible” translators’ tour this June—“the Kidron valley is not flat and wide like I thought!”

Here, 18 Asia-Pacific nationals and United Bible Societies translators receive Bedouin hospitality. This is their first visit to the Land, and part of a record-breaking year for JCBT!
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3. Global Organizational Connections

The Annual Conference of the United Bible Societies was held for the first time in Israel, on May 9-15, 2019.

Our part was to introduce to them the Context of the Text, which they partly knew, but had never seen. It seems our efforts to bring “context criticism” into the world of Bible translation is slowly taking effect!

The visiting UBS leaders connected with the Israeli Bible Society in Jerusalem, the Israeli Arab Bible Society in Nazareth and the Palestinian Bible Society in Bethlehem. All have talented, dedicated and inspiring leaders.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all the peoples, for His grace overwhelms us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever!”  –Psa. 117. Translation and nuances by M. Ronning


=> Pray for English-speaking translators or consultants-in-training to apply to JCBT for 2020.  May the LORD inspire and enable them to come in order to be a blessing to their people.  Help us reach them and refer them to ou r website for application forms and procedures. 

=> Pray for younger staff members, God-inspired and God-directed, to join and replace the present visionary team of founders and workers at JCBT. 

=> Pray for faithful support to this small non-profit organization, dependent on contributions by individuals such as you. 


Each Mother-Tongue Translator in our Semester Program needs to raise $9,500: half for tuition at Hebrew University, and half for their room, board and field trips.

Find out about being a Bible-Translation Sponsor!

Office@BibleTranslators.orgThank you for your interest, thank you for your financial support, and above all thank you for your prayers!

Halvor and Mirja Ronning, Brian (Baruch) Kvasnica and staff
♦ Click Here to Find Out How You Can Be Part of the Work.

Mailing Adress:
P.O. Box 40258,
Mevasseret Zion
9080500, Israel.