January 31, 2018

IBT has recently published a revised edition of the Gospel of Luke in the endangered Chukchi language, spoken by about 5,000 people on Russian’s northern Pacific rim. The Chukchi text is accompanied by the Russian Synodal translation of Luke in a parallel column. This is IBT’s fifth diglot edition of Luke among the indigenous peoples of Russia’s Far North and Far East, following similar publications in Nanai and Koryak (2012), Itelmen (2013), and Evenki (2014).  The first edition of Luke in Chukchi was published in 2004 and released with a recording on audiocassettes.

Spring 2017 Newsletter

The  birth  of  the  Gospel  in  the  Chukchi  language

“The Gospel of Luke has been translated into the Chukchi language. The translation team includes experts and native speakers from the indigenous people group. Their purpose is to make sure that the translation is clear and intelligible to readers, and what is even more important, that the proper meaning, power, and spirit is conveyed by the text.”

These words were spoken on the local TV newsbroadcast in Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka. But these simple words of a short TV report do not give us the full picture of what strenuous creative efforts and what intellectual agony the task demanded. It does not show how many months and years first the translation and then the revision of a relatively small text of the Gospel of Luke actually required.

The Chukchis live at the farthest eastern tip of Russia, on the Chukotka peninsula, directly across the Bering Strait from Alaska. It is a place noted for its extremely harsh climate. The Chukchi language is spoken by about 5,000 people out of the 16,000 total that make up the entire Chukchi population. Until 1931, the Chukchi language had no official orthography, despite attempts in the 1800s to write religious texts in it. The Chukchi writing system was created during the Soviet period, first with a Roman script (1931) and later (1937) with a Cyrillic script. Chukchi is an endangered language, but one in which there are a number of Christian believers and active churches that want to get the Gospel out to the primarily animist Chukchis in their mother tongue.

Your donation of 500 rubles will allow IBT to print and deliver 1 copy of the Gospel of Luke, and 1 copy of Jonah to the Chukchi people.