Pars is thrilled that the NMV Bible Translation, published by Elam Ministries, reached its completion and publication in September 2014. PARS,’ Executive Director, the chief coordinator of the project, tells us about the twenty-year translation journey.
The vision for the NMV took shape at a critical time in the life of the church in Iran. The Iranian Christian community had experienced the martyrdom of Rev. Hussein Soodmand and Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, and the early signs of a coming revival were appearing, a revival that would soon be portrayed by David Garrison as the…
Adjacent with the new developments within the fabric of Iranain society, including changes in the spoken and written national language, Farsi (or Persian), these together provided a fertile womb for the conception of a new translation of the bible that would meet the needs of a new era of Christianity in Iran. In a very important sense, the NMV was a translation not for the needs of its own time, but for the needs of an Iranian church that was just coming to be.
Through the lens of this vision, the new Iran was perceived to need a new translation of the world of god. The translation most used at the time was now more than a century old. Though it had rendered a great service to the Iranian church for many decades, it was now too difficult to understand, both for its over-literal style, and its use of old Farsi words and expressions. The more recent translations also available were limited to a full-Bible translation of the Living Bible style, and a Good News Testament. Though very useful for their own purposes, they did not seem to fully meet the needs of the new Iranian church.
One could clearly see that the emerging Iranian church needed a new translation. It needed a translation that would be close enough to the Greek and Hebrew text of the bible to convey the meaning without interpretation, and thus be suitable for careful bible study, teaching and preaching in the church. It would also need to be clear enough to be understood by the Iranian masses from different social backgrounds and levels of education, and thus be an effective tool for evangelism.
Though the need to have a new translation was felt for many years, in God’s providence the Iranian church at this crucial time had the qualified people who could address this need, people with advance biblical and theological education and much experience in the wok of translation. So when I went and shared this vision with Rev. Sam Yeghnazar and Arman Roshdi from Elam Ministries, and with Terry Todd and Martin Krussi from a respected Bible Translation Organization, they wholeheartedly agreed to join hands in making it happen. In a short time, a strong team from different church backgrounds gathered together to start the work.
One of the first translators that were invited to work with us on the project was Rev. Tatevos Michaelian, who kindly expressed his willingness and excitement to join the team. It would have been a great honour for all of us to have such a scholar in the translation team. Unfortunately, he was martyred in less than a month after he expressed his willingness to participate. So it was very fitting to call the project, in his honor, ‘The Michaelian Project.”
But there were many notable translators and bible translators who worked tremendously hard on the project as you will see in the list below.
Like every good bible translation, we set ourselves from the start three important goals of (1) Accuracy, (2) Clariy and (3) Naturalness. And we made every effort to make sure that the NMV will display all three. In addition, we set ourselves a fourth goal, namely, that the translation would also be adorned with a literary elegance that would satisfy the poetic taste and high expectations of a Persian reader, a reader with such pronounced literary history. So the translation has gone through several stages of meticulous checking to make sure that it is of the highest standard not only exegetically and linguistically, but also stylistically.
Initially we followed the translation model of the NIV, but as the work progressed, considering the needs of the church, and the other translations available, we moved towards the ESV as our model of translation, and have now revised the NT accordingly.
Here I would like to express deep appreciation and thanks to every member of the translation team who worked so hard for so long to make this happen. I would like to specifically thank Murray Salisbury and Nicholas Lunn. Both have them has been not only Hebrew consultants of the highest caliber, but have become some of my closest friends. I also want to thank Rev. Saro Khachikian, my age old teacher and colleague, who worked closely with me throughout; Rev. David Thomas, Reza Roshanzamir, Issa Dibaj and our stylists who checked and reviewed every verse; Nader Fard, who apart from being one of our translators, and the main technical support in the later half of the work, typeset the whole text; rev. Sam Yeghnazar and all the Elam crew who made it possible. Above all, I would like to thank my dear wife, Mojdeh.
I would like to end with a personal note. Without any doubt, this is an emotional moment for a bible translator. For more than 18 years I have been waiting for this day, and dreamed of taking the full NMV bible in my hands. So maybe I should finish my asking whether it was worth all the effort? Was it really worth spending 20 years of our lives on this project? Surely it would be the thousands even millions of Iranians, who would be using the NMV bible in their devotions, bible studies, teaching, preaching and theological reflections in many years to come who world be the true judge of that. But as someone who has spent most of my adult life on this translation, I may be permitted to say that it has been a great honour and privilege to spend so much time with God’s precious and life-giving word, and together with such a wonderful team. I count every minute of it worth more than anything I could do. And I have nothing but praise for the God who used a weak and unworthy person as me to lead this project. May all the glory and honour be to Him only.
The Translation Team
Coordinator and Chief Editor: Rev. Dr. Mehrdad Fatehi
Assistant Coordinators: Mojdeh Fatehi, John MacAulay, Murray Salisbury
Chief Administrator: Mojdeh Fatehi
Translation Consultants: Dr. John Callow, Dr. Nicholas Lunn, Murray Salisbury
Exegetical Checkers: Rev. Dr Mehrdad Fatehi, Mojdeh Fatehi, Rev. Saro Khachikian, Afshin Latifzadeh
Translators: Rev. Robert Asserian, Jessica Babakhanian, Flora Boghospour, Issa Dibaj, Nader Fard, Dr. Mojdeh Hawksley, Afshin Latifzadeh, Margeuerite Maghen, Mariet Michaelian, Rev. David Thomas
Editors: Mojdeh Fatehi, Issa Dibaj
Stylists: Mr. Haghshenass and others
Reviewers: Nader Fard, Mojdeh Fatehi, Rev. Saro Khachikian, Rev. Fariborz Khandani, Reza Roshanzamir, Arman Roshdi, Rev. Saeed Roshdieh, Rev. David Thomas
Introductions: Arman Roshdi
Technical Support: Nader Fard, Geoffrey Hunt, Jonathan Kew
Typesetters: Nader Fard, Jonathan Kew