History, traditions

New Ossetic Bible in the wake of the Beslan tragedy

The latest translation of the New Testament in Ossetic “will provide spiritual support to a population living in difficult times,” this according to the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT). Already five thousand copies are available in this small republic of the Russian Federation.

Chechen terrorist held more than a thousand people hostage in the Ossetian town of Beslan, an incident that ended in tragedy with more than 400 people killed, including more than 150 children.

Ossetic translations of the Bible are not new; the earliest dating back to the 18th century; however, the last translations from the early part of the 20th century are not easy to read and are hardly understood by today’s readers.

After ten years the IBT has finally published its version of the New Testament. It represents the first attempt to go beyond a simple literal transposition of the content. The team of philologists and linguists, headed by Safar Chabliev, “focused on the message of the written word and not on the literal order of the text”. They based their work on the Nestle-Aland Greek edition of the New Testament which is recognised by the Holy Synod and is the more widely used among Orthodox.

North Ossetia has 710,000 inhabitants, mostly Christian Orthodox, with a Muslim minority.

Christianity was brought to the area by Byzantine missioners in the 9th century when it was known as Alania. An archbishopric was established in western Alania under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Numerous churches were subsequently built.

The Institute for Bible Translation, based in Stockholm (Sweden), was founded in1973. Its main aim is to translate and publish the Bible in the languages of non-Slavic peoples living in Russia and other countries of the CIS. IBT is an international organization whose staff is drawn from all Christian traditions and denominations.

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