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New Portuguese translation of the Bible available online

The public can give suggestions on the biblical text that one wants to be more “understandable” for the readers of the 21st century

Aaron Burden/Unsplash
Aaron Burden/Unsplash

The Bible Translation Commission of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference is making available online a new translation of the Bible into Portuguese for the public to comment on the text. The challenge of this “literary revision” is to create a text understandable in the 21st century, without losing fidelity to the original languages

In statements to ECCLESIA, the coordinator of the Commission, Father Mário de Sousa, says that the project “is to present to the public one book per month,” focusing on “the most significant books, those that are most used in the liturgy. The translation began with the book of Exodus, the second book of the Old Testament. Also under review are thirty-five other books, “ready to be presented” and which include the longest books of the Bible

Process can be “difficult

Maintaining fidelity to the original languages and, at the same time, being “understandable to today’s readers “is a difficult job”, Father Mário de Sousa admits

The new translation is the result of teamwork involving “a very large group of translators” from various Portuguese-speaking countries and “various sensibilities”, allowing the text to be thought out “in a way that had never happened before”. On the other hand, “it is, in fact, hopeless”, jokes the coordinator, stressing that the translation work is long: for example, translating five verses can take an afternoon

This translation follows the first volume of the new translation of the “holy book” by the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference in March 2019. On that date, the edition “The Four Gospels and the Psalms”, in a translation carried out by 34 researchers, were made available on the institution’s website. The online publication served to ask readers to leave their opinion on the translation to improve it

Sousa says that “very valid” contributions were received, with a concern to add a “more pastoral” dimension, whereas at the beginning of the work, the concern was centred on “literalness”. In this way, notes were also introduced to “justify the translation options” and help to “understand the deeper meaning of the text”. The translation will undergo a “liturgical revision” so that the text may be used in celebrations


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