Mixed reaction to Zulu Bible translation

Local churches have mixed reactions to President Zuma’s donation for a new translation of the Bible.

THE Jacob Zuma Foundation’s R500 000 donation to the Roman Catholic Church to improve the existing translation of the Bible in isiZulu, has received mixed reactions from local churches.

Father Sibusiso Mhlango of St. Patrick Catholic Church said a new translation will help ‘enrich Christianity in the Zulu community since the 1953 version contains considerable isiXhosa references which many Zulu speakers struggle to understand.’


Not so sure that a new translation is necessary was Pastor Nompithielo Sidiela from the Methodist Church in Empangeni.

She believes that the current version is good enough as is has been updated continuously since the first translation.

‘The money could rather have been given to charity or to the Bible Society of South Africa who are more experienced in Bible translations. This way more churches would be involved in the project, not just the Roman Catholic Church’, said Pastor Sidiela.

The Bible Society has been working on their own isiZulu translation of the Bible since 2008 and it is expected to be complete by 2019.

Empangeni Dutch Reformed Church minister Hennie van den Heever said it takes between 12 to 15 years to thoroughly translate the Bible from the biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic).

‘It is an enormous task and even though a translation of the Bible in a South African language is seen as more legitimate if done by the Bible Society as many churches work together, the Roman Catholic Church’s isiZulu translation will still be widely accepted. More translations of the Bible provides a better understanding today of what

happened up to four thousand years ago’, Van den Heever said.

The Bible Society’s Head of Communications, Mims Turley, said the society will have no problem with the Roman Catholic Church undertaking the translation,

‘The more translations, the better the Word of God will spread.’

Published: Zululand Observer 12 January 2015


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