Location/religion: Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Siberia. Russian Orthodox, shamanism.
Language family: Turkic
Bible portions to date: Four Gospels* (1858/1898, reprint IBT 1975), Acts, Epistles and Genesis* (1858), Psalms* (1887), Children’s Bible (1995, revised 2013, NT part 2014), Mark (1995), Luke/Acts (1998), John, James, 1-3 John (2000), NT (2004; reprint in new format, 2008), 6 Psalms (2007), Psalms (2009), Proverbs (2016), John reprint (2017), NT (revised, 2018), illustrated Yakut/Russian diglot of Jonah (2019)
Bible portions on IBT website: NT, Psalms, Proverbs, Children’s Bible
Audio recordings: NT, Psalms, Hexapsalmos (The Six Psalms)
Apps: Сахалыы Биибилийэ (Yakut NT, Psalms, Proverbs for Android), Иона бороруок кинигэтэ (Yakut Jonah for Android)
Status of team: Active team, we need to find a field tester.
Current work in progress: Exodus, Numbers, Biblical glossary
Short term plans: to finalize the Biblical glossary; to publish Ruth-Esther
Long term plans: OT and Deuterocanonical books, revision of the NT
The Yakuts, who prefer to call themselves ”Sakha”, live in Yakutia (or the Yakut Republic, in the Russian Federation), situated in northern Siberia and known for the coldest climate of any inhabited location on the earth. The villages of Oimyakon and Verkhoyank have registered -67,7° C (or -89,9° F). Yakutia is the largest of Siberia’s republics – twice the size of Alaska. The capital city is Yakutsk. The Yakuts are related to other Turkic peoples of Siberia and Central Asia. Many Yakuts are Orthodox Christians (though animism is still strong there). Christianity was brought to Yakutia first in the 18th century by merchants and monks – the first Orthodox diocese was formed almost 150 years ago. Christianity also spread there because in the 19th century it was a place of exile for political prisoners and deportees from Central Russia.
Bible translation work in close co-operation with the Russian Orthodox Church. During the 19th century the Four Gospels were translated and published in Yakut by the Orthodox Church. When Archbishop Innokenty conducted the Divine Liturgy for the Yakut people in their mother tongue for the first time in history, those present were so profoundly touched by the opportunity of addressing God without a translator that they decided to designated that day as a Yakut national holiday.
Major IBT publications: The Yakut language developed and changed in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, and IBT began its work on the new Bible translation in 1992. Our first publication was the well-loved Children’s Bible, first published in 1995. This book was revised and printed in 2013. The NT part of the Children’s Bible was reprinted on request from the Orthodox diocese already in 2014. The New Testament in Yakut was published in 2004 and was very well received in Yakutia. Its text is read at Orthodox church services, as is the translation of the Hexapsalmos (liturgical Six Psalms) the recording of which was requested by the Yakut diocese especially for church use. In 2017-2018 the revised 3rd edition of the NT appeared. The book of Proverbs was published in 2016 and officially presented in Yakutsk in December 2017. Plenty of good responses followed from readers, and Proverbs was called “a tuning-fork for self-examination” on the website of the Yakut diocese. In 2018 it was reprinted. The most recent IBT publication is the illustrated book of Jonah. The Yakut team decided to prepare their own set of illustrations, since Yakuts especially value their own unique style. A talented Yakut artist was found, and she produced a new set of beautiful illustrations. Another unusual decision suggested by the Yakut team was to make this book trilingual: the Yakut text is laid out in parallel with the Russian and English texts of Jonah. This will hopefully make this publication popular among young Yakuts, who need to study English for their professional growth. Yakut Jonah was so warmly met by its potential readers that the Orthodox Church in Yakutia initiated not one but two separate presentations of this edition – both in the Sakha Republic and among the Yakut diaspora in Moscow.
Current work: Work on the Pentateuch is in progress. Genesis and Exodus have been completed and checked by the consultant; Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are being finalized by the two translators. A new exegetical advisor from France, who permanently lives in Yakutsk, has joined the project. He will work with the 2nd translator. An additional translator is preparing to join the team too.
In October the independent translator took part in the workshop on Minor Prophets in Moscow. She drafted Haggai, Zephaniah and Joel, and in June 2020 she took part in the consequent webinar on Malachi and Habbakuk.
Publication of Ruth/Esther: After a successful experience with Jonah, the same artist was asked to prepare a new set of illustrations for Ruth and Esther. Several beautiful illustrations for Ruth and Esther have almost been completed, and an illustrated edition of Ruth and Esther will be submitted to the publishing department in the nearest future.
The team is steadily moving forward on the path towards the full Bible.
Your donation of $28 will help to publish and deliver to Yakutia 10 copies of Ruth & Esther (Print run – 4,600 copies)