Church to Publish LDS Bible in Spanish

Page from Genesis
Page from Genesis

The LDS Church formally announced yesterday that it is publishing an LDS version of the Bible in Spanish. Formally called the Reina-Valera 2009 edition, this version not only brings the footnotes, chapter headings, cross-references and other material that English-speaking members take for granted, it also provides a “conservative” LDS-oriented update to the well-regarded 1909 version of the Reina-Valera translation of the Bible first published in 1602.

The LDS version will be available in September, 2009, and will also appear on the Church’s website at the same time.

Readers of A Motley Vision learned of this forthcoming translation nearly a year ago, in a comments to the post Why Not an LDS Bible in Spanish. This edition solves some of the problems noted in that post — specifically the use if the 1960 Reina-Valera edition, which is under copyright and required purchasing copies published by the Protestant church that created the 1960 version. Not only does this edition eliminate purchasing from and paying royalties to others, it also results in very inexpensive pricing – $3 a copy in the US for the basic paperback version. Currently the least expensive version available from the LDS Church distribution center in Salt Lake is a hardcover version for $9.

Apparently the Church took great care in preparing this edition, and the comment mentioned above indicates that it has been in preparation for at least 5 years. The Church’s press release indicates:

Church leaders, teams of translators, professional linguists and qualified lay Church members reviewed the 1909 Reina-Valera edition of the Bible.  Reading committees were organized throughout the world and extensive field testing was completed to ensure accuracy.  The 2009 Latter-day Saint edition modernizes some of the outdated grammatical constructions and vocabulary that have shifted in meaning and acceptability.

“As we embarked on this project, we were sensitive to the sacred nature of this work.   We tried to preserve the 1909 text making very conservative changes to ensure accuracy, understandability and faithfulness to the source texts,” says director of the Church’s Translation Division, Jeffrey C. Bateson. “The spiritual nature of this work was a humbling and uplifting experience for all those involved.”


Now I wonder what this implies for other languages! Will Portuguese be next? It would seem to be the logical choice, given the number of Church members who speak Portuguese, and Portuguese-speakers face similar problems with the João Ferreira de Almeida translation that the Church uses — a 1909 version is in the public domain, but it uses language that is hard for many members to understand, while the more recent versions are under copyright and require the church to purchase copies from other religions.

This does have one, albeit small, downside — it could make it a little harder for any LDS publisher working in Spanish, because in order to quote liberally (beyond fair use) that publisher will have to seek permission from the Church. Of course, as it stands now, an LDS publisher has to go to another, protestant religious organization to get permission to quote from the Bible or use the harder-to-understand public domain version of this translation.

So, all in all, this is better.

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