Three decades have passed since President Thomas S. Monson directed the preparation of the LDS edition of the Holy Bible that would redefine how English-speaking members learn and study the gospel. The Church leader counts that milestone event as one of the most significant assignments of his life — an assignment that would blend academic expertise with the clarifying powers of heaven.
Now President Monson and millions of members across the globe are celebrating another heaven-driven milestone in Church publishing history: the publication of the LDS edition of the Bible in Spanish. The First Presidency announced its publication Sept. 13 in a letter read in sacrament meetings in Spanish-language units worldwide.
"The edition is based on the Reina-Valera translation and is titled Holy Bible: Reina-Valera 2009," the letter stated. "It contains new chapter headings, footnotes, cross-references to all of the standard works, and other study helps that will help your understanding of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ."
The First Presidency went on to encourage Spanish-speaking members to obtain their own copies of the new edition of the Bible and use it in their personal and family scripture study and in their Church meetings and assignments. "As members prayerfully learn and teach from the scriptures, their testimonies will grow and they will receive greater direction in their daily lives."
Copies of the new edition — in both print and audio CD formats — are available at Church distribution centers and stores in a variety of choices. The electronic text and audio MP3 formats of the Bible are also available on the Internet at escrituras.lds.org.
Beyond the cross-references, chapter headings and explanatory footnotes, the new LDS edition of the Bible also includes selections from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible along with several full-color Bible maps, a new reference guide and photographs.
Producing the LDS edition of the Spanish Bible was no small task. A team of translators, General Authorities, Area Seventies, professional linguists and members labored several years preparing and reviewing the edition. Their work was performed under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. A print run of over 800,000 copies has already been completed.
The text of the new LDS edition is based on the 1909 edition of the Reina-Valera Bible. That edition was chosen, in large part, because of the wide regard for the quality of its translation, according to the Church. The text underwent "a conservative" update of outdated grammar and vocabulary.
Spanish-speaking members are thrilled with the possibilities offered by this historic publication.
"To have an edition of the Holy Bible with cross-references to the other books of scripture is a great blessing because it will improve our personal and family study of the scriptures," said Guatemalan member Julio Alvarado. "I am grateful to all who have contributed to this work."
Brother Alvarado said he has already witnessed members traveling to the distribution center in Guatemala City to purchase the new edition.
Saul Jose Vargas of Bogota, Colombia, said the LDS edition of the Bible has already increased his understanding of sacred scripture.
"The passages are easier to understand," said Brother Vargas. "I haven't finished the entire edition, but already I have felt distinct feelings that I have never felt before and my understanding of what I have read has improved. I have no doubt that I have received an additional portion of the Spirit that will help me understand and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life."
Brother Vargas was also impressed by the quality of the color photos and other images.
In a statement regarding the LDS Spanish-language Bible, President Monson spoke of the more than 4 million Spanish-speaking Church members who are "shining examples of Christian discipleship in countries throughout the world."
President Monson went on to call the recently released LDS edition "the finest Spanish Bible in all the world."
"This new publication will bring about a significant increase in gospel scholarship among Spanish-speaking members of the Church," he said. "I can see our young people learning from the scriptures at an early age as families read and discuss the Lord's teachings. I envision our people being diligent with their personal study and becoming self-reliant in their understanding of the gospel as they regularly receive inspiration through the Holy Ghost.
"The result will be that our members and missionaries will be more effective in proclaiming the restored gospel as they gain insights from the cross-references to all four standard works and from the other study aids in this new edition."
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve developed a love for the Spanish language as a young man while serving a full-time mission in Uruguay. The apostle was an essential participant in the Spanish Bible project.
"The Bible is a resource of tremendous importance — of doctrine, of examples, of worthy lives," he said. "My prayer is that this volume may become a source of inspired instruction."
Guatemalan-born Elder Carlos H. Amado of the Seventy called the new edition "a miracle."
"It is a marvel that the people can have the complete scriptures in Spanish — the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price — all joined together with the Bible."
A 30-minute orientation video about this new edition will be broadcast over the Church satellite system and on LDS.org during the upcoming conference weekend. Additional information about the LDS edition of the Spanish Bible is available, in Spanish and English, at SantaBiblia.lds.org.