J.B. An Dang
Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – “A new translation of the Bible is about to be completed, the fruit of an integral and rigorous study to accurately express the Word of God in a clear and unequivocal Vietnamese,” said Franciscan priest Father Pascal Nguyen Ngoc Tinh.
Father Nguyen heads the ‘Liturgy of the Hours,’ a group of Vietnamese experts specialized in Bible studies, theology, liturgy, pastoral ministry, sacred music, literature, and poetry (pictured).
Despite the many difficulties found in a war-torn country, the group, working on a voluntary basis since 1971, completed its first Vietnamese version of the Bible in 1998. At that time, there were already five different translations circulating in the country.
The first version, published in 1916, was the work of Father Albert Schlicklin of the Foreign Missions Society of Paris (MEP). Later, Father Gérard Gagnon, Father Trần Đức Huân, Father Nguyễn Thế Thuấn and Cardinal Trịnh Văn Căn published other versions.
However, the group’s first translation was probably the most enthusiastically received. It was the first to be written by a group of 17 priests and nuns rather than a single scholar.
Furthermore, since the aim of the group is to present the Word of God in a clear, direct, uncompromising contemporary language, rich in Vietnamese literature and culture, this version seems to be ideal for both private study and public reading.
In a short period of time, more than three million copies of the Bible have been sold.
Immediately after the completion of the first version, the group started to work on another one in 1999 to reflect more the cultural characteristics of the Hebrew and Greek languages.
“The new version is more literal and full of comments in Vietnamese, to meet the needs of Bible studies,” said Father Pascal Nguyen Ngoc Tinh. “The work is well underway and, with your prayers, it will be completed no later than 2021, when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the group. Please pray for us.”
Despite the obstructionism and various difficulties created by Vietnam’s Communist government, the group has also managed to complete other translations, including that of the Liturgy of the Hours and the Roman Missal.
Some 370,000 copies of the Liturgy were sold across the country and among overseas Vietnamese communities. So far 66,000 copies of the Missal have also been sold.
The group’s publications are also available online at www.ktcgkpv.org.