'All people' to receive LDS scriptures

Scriptures are the words of the Lord and are "pure" before Him. (D&C 41:12.) And He has commanded that they should be taken to "all nations, kindreds, tongues and people." (D&C 42:58.)

But taking scriptures to "all nations" poses challenges, considering language and cultural obstacles.The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve direct and approve all phases of scripture translation and publication. This process of translating scriptures from English to other languages protects the purity and integrity of these sacred words. The work of translation is done to ensure that members throughout the world have access to doctrinally, grammatically correct books of scripture that will produce testimonies, faith, commitment and conversion.

In the priesthood session of the April 1986 general conference, President Ezra Taft Benson exhorted members to " . . . not treat lightly the great things we have received from the hand of the Lord. His word is one of the most valuable gifts He has given us. I urge you to recommit yourselves to a study of the scriptures. . . . Read them in your families and teach your children to love and treasure them."

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, according to the scriptures committee, have noted three themes in the commandments concerning scriptures. They are as follows:

Make the scriptures available to all the world. (D&C 90:10-11.) To adhere to this commandment, the Church combines the resources of the Church's scriptures committee, and the curriculum, translation and materials management departments to provide copies of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price in as many of the world's languages as possible.

Church leaders do not include the Bible in the work of translation because most nations already have the Bible available in native languages. Church leaders have expressed a debt of gratitude and love to members of Bible societies who have literally dedicated their lives to the translation of the Bible into new languages.

But much work in translating the LDS standard works is yet to be accomplished - and this work is done with great care. To begin with, approval for translation into a given language comes directly from the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve.

Then a search is initiated for qualified translators among faithful members of the Church. Members of the committees involved in this search said they are pleased at how well the translators have often been prepared - both spiritually and technically.

Typically, translation teams include translators, reviewers, proofreaders and quality control people.

The translation process includes two aspects.

First, there are the technical aspects, including grammar and knowledge of the culture of the language into which the scriptures are being translated.

Second, there are the spiritual aspects. Translators are admonished to strive for the gift of translation, just as the Lord exhorted Oliver Cowdery in D&C 8:11: "Ask . . . that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records. . . , that are sacred; and according to your faith shall it be done unto you."

Today, editions of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price are available in many languages. (Please see listings on page 10 for numbers of languages in which latter-day scriptures are available.)

Selections from the Book of Mormon are also available in many non-English languages. These portions include chapters of the Book of Mormon as approved by the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve. However, Church leaders are working toward providing complete copies of this book of scripture in approved non-English languages. However, according to the scriptures committee, there were specific reasons why the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve originally approved translating selections from the Book of Mormon: A portion of the word of the Lord has been distributed sooner than a complete book would have been, missionary work has been facilitated, and qualified translators have been identified.

Use the scriptures to bring the children of God to the Father and the Son. (Alma 31:5.) Church presidents have often emphasized the spiritually maturing effect daily scripture study has on the saints. In a 1975 area conference in Manila, Philippines, President Spencer W. Kimball explained: "The years have taught me that if we will energetically pursue this worthy personal goal in a determined and conscientious manner, we shall indeed find answers to our problems and peace in our hearts. We shall experience the Holy Ghost broadening our understanding, find new insights, witness an unfolding pattern of all scripture; and the doctrines of the Lord shall come to have more meaning to us than we ever thought possible. As a consequence, we shall have greater wisdom with which to guide ourselves and our families, so that we may serve as a light and source of strength to our non-member friends with whom we have an obligation to share the gospel."

To facilitate an understanding of the scriptures, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve are directing the development of a 200-page "Guide to the Scriptures" for non-English editions of the scriptures. From the 1,270 pages of study aids found in the English version of the standard works, the most important topics and references have been selected. These topics are being compiled as a built-in study aid for all non-English versions of the scriptures. This guide references latter-day scriptures with the Bible, and includes Bible and Church history maps. There is also a condensed appendix containing key references from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

Thus, Church leaders are bringing to pass the prophecy of 2 Ne. 3:12, that the fruits of Judah and the fruits of Joseph ". . . shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord."

Protect the scriptures from physical loss or content error. (D&C 42:56.) Stringent steps are being taken to ensure the physical and content safety of the scriptures. A valuable lesson was learned from a 1907 fire in Lamoni, Iowa, that destroyed the headquarters of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. However, a vault protected membership records, the minutes of Presiding Bishopric meetings, and the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon. At the time, LDS leaders were already taking steps to ensure the safety of Church records, but the experience of the RLDS Church reinforced their emphasis on these steps.

During the process of translation, which is done in an area in which a non-English language is spoken, area leaders are responsible to protect the physical materials. In some locations, back-up copies of the translation, including a copy of the printed manuscript and a computer diskette, are stored in a local bank vault.

Another major concern is that, during the process of translation, errors aren't allowed into the text. Therefore, in addition to the steps taken by the translation department to protect the doctrinal accuracy of translated scriptures, local ecclesiastical leaders give translation manuscripts a final review.

Then, master copies of a completed translation are sent to Church headquarters and preserved in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. At that point, if there are other revisions or corrections made to the translation, approval comes from the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, and those are made on the master copies. New copies are then re-issued to the area offices.

Finally, authorization is given to publish the new language edition. By carefully directing the translation process Church leaders adhere to the same admonition given to the Book of Mormon prophet Helaman to " . . . keep all these things sacred which I have kept, even as I have kept them; for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept." (Alma 37:2.)

This wise purpose and a warning concerning scriptures were explained by President Benson during the October 1986 general conference: "Do we, as saints of the Most High God, treasure the word He has preserved for us at so great a cost? Are we using these books of latter-day revelation to bless our lives and resist the powers of the evil one? This is the purpose for which they were given. How can we not stand condemned before the Lord if we treat them lightly by letting them do no more than gather dust on our shelves?"

(Additional information)

Translation work continues forth

Following are current figures representing the languages, including English, in which the LDS standard works have been published and figures representing the number of languages in which scripture translations have been authorized. The total number of languages spoken throughout the world reaches into the hundreds and possibly thousands.

Published language editions:

The full Book of Mormon -- 38

Selections from the Book of Mormon -- 52

Doctrine and Covenants/Pearl of Great Price -- 31

43 additional languages have been authorized for scripture translation.

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