Books of Ruth and Esther in the Abaza language
June 5, 2020

IBT is pleased to announce that the Old Testament books of Ruth and Esther have been published in the Abaza language in a single edition. The first IBT publication in Abaza came out in 2019 – an illustrated translation of the book of Jonah, with a parallel Russian translation.

The Abaza language belongs to the Abkhaz-Abaza branch of the Abkhaz-Adyge group of Caucasian languages. L.I. Lavrov, one of the first researchers of the history of the Abaza people, notes that they were once a large people, with their own centuries-old history. Scholars believe that the Abaza and Abkhaz languages separated from a common source language between the 8th and 12th centuries, when the ancestors of the modern Abazas migrated to the North Caucasus. They now reside primarily in Karachay-Cherkessia, where Abaza is one of the 5 official languages of the republic. According to the 2010 Russian census, 37,831 people in Russia speak Abaza. Abaza writing in Russia is based on the Cyrillic alphabet. Grammars, dictionaries, phrasebooks, textbooks and other resources for Abaza are available. The Abaza language newspaper "Abazashta" is published in Cherkessk. There is a diaspora population outside of Russia as well.

This edition of Ruth and Esther includes a glossary explaining biblical and cultural concepts that are likely unfamiliar to modern Abaza readers, such as signet ring, judges (with particular reference to the role they played in ancient Israel), the Law (given by God through the prophet Moses), etc. The glossary also includes some little-known names (for example, Cush, which in ancient times referred to a region in Africa at the source of the Nile, now in modern Ethiopia). A PDF version can be downloaded from the electronic publications section of the IBT website.

Following the release of the print edition, an audio recording of these books will be produced at the radio studio in Cherkessk, which will then be posted in the audio recording section of the IBT website. An earlier audio recording of the book of Jonah, broadcast on the Abaza radio program "Ochag" [“Hearth”], generated a lot of interest among Abaza speakers, who listened to it more than 1,100 times by the end of 2019.