Update on the Old Testament (Yup’ik Old Testament Translation Project)

The translation of the books of the Bible into new Yup’ik (that is, the new orthography of modern Yup’ik) has been of much interest to those from the Yukon-Kuskokwim region. (see Small Business in Western Alaska)

by Rev. Peter Green
12 December 2008, The Delta Discovery

The Yup’ik Old Testament Translation Project (YOTTP) is the work of the Alaska Moravian Church with technical support from the Canadian and American Bible Societies.

To date we have 8 Yup’ik Old Testament books in trial print. The book of Jonah is the latest printed book we received which will be sent or made available to our Pastors and churches.

The primary Yup’ik Old Testament translators are Mary Jane Mann and Alice Fredson. We continue to appreciate the work of the late Peter Andrews from Aleknagik who actually did a lot of the translating. Elsie Mather has worked as an editor for many years who now lives in Anchorage. Elsie Jimmie from Kwigillingok does reviewing and corrections in spelling.

We want to thank others who have supported this project by reading and reviewing translated books when they are asked. People such as Ringo Jimmie, Margaret Beaver, Lincoln Enoch, James Berlin, and others whom we may have forgotten to mention.

We as members also do reading and reviewing. John P. Andrew and Jacob Nelson are part of the YOTTP committee members and their expertise in Yup’ik vocabulary is utilized. Thank you to Julia Jimmie for reading translated material, when she has the time, and to Alice Fredson who makes her work faster and easier.

This is an on-going project and we solicit your prayers that someday all books will be in print. As work progresses, it is possible that the next set of books to be printed are the minor prophets besides the book of Jonah. We are praying to have our Publishing workshop in Anchorage sometime in 2009 spring.

Other projects are the Lakota translation, and the Inupiat and Chocktaw who would attend with us, should we have this workshop as planned. Our recent Yup’ik Old Testament meeting was in October 2008 in Bethel with both of our Canadian and American Bible Societies consultants.

When we have our publishing workshop we work on Old Testament books that are ready and we finalize how we want them to be printed. Introduction, footnotes, illustrations, etc. are done during this time, such as we had one in South Dakota last year and the outcome was the printing of the books of Isaiah and Jonah.

What is the forecast of this project? We do discuss this and are getting an idea of the progress. We anticipate that we may be done in 3 years but are praying about no more than 5 years. The good news is that all the rest of the Old Testament books have been translated and now will have to go through the process in order to get them ready for printing.

Another work we started is transliterating of the New Testament Yup’ik bible from the old orthography writing to the new orthography. We have acknowledged that our Old Testament work is a priority, but the New Testament work would not take too much of our time. We do look at the concern for our young people and want them to read the Word of God in an orthography familiar to them.

The original Yup’ik New Testament bible has been with us for a long time so despite the mistakes and misspellings we have learned to read and use it. Part of our recent start of the New Testament work would be to make corrections on the contents. The people charged to work on this are Elsie Jimmie and Freda Jimmie and we want to appreciate the late Sophie Shields who started the transliterating work on her own time and whenever she was able to.
On behalf of the YOTTP team, may you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas and New Year. Thank you for all of your support to this special project. For those who have lost loved ones, may our God of strength and God of all comfort give you Peace and Joy!


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7 responses to “Update on the Old Testament (Yup’ik Old Testament Translation Project)

  1. Yes, but they don’t tell you how to get ahold of these scriptures. I am in Chefornak and have been trying to track these down for awhile. They said that I have some material on the way in the mail, but mail is slow recently.

  2. The Provincial Church office staff is actually quite small for all they do and located in Bethel. [907-543-2478, PO Box 545, Bethel, AK 99559.] I can only suggest you contact the office again and ask if they have an electronic draft or can send a copy.

    It would be helpful, perhaps, if others interested in the translation project who have funding available, could think about contributing to the extraneous costs, such as printing, distribution, pdf formatting, etc.

    Print copies are needed but it would be nice to have the electronic or web versions, too.

  3. http://aprn.org/2009/09/23/bethel-church-gets-yup%e2%80%99ik-bible/

    The Moravian Church in Bethel was the first church to translate the Bible into the Yup’ik language.

    Alice Criswell, KYUK – Bethel

    Download Audio (MP3) http://media.aprn.org/2009/ann-20090923-10.mp3

  4. Yes, but they don’t tell you how to get ahold of these scriptures. I am in Chefornak and have been trying to track these down for awhile. They said that I have some material on the way in the mail, but mail is slow recently.

  5. Dear Reverend Green: Have you an updated progress report on the Central Alaskan Yupik translations? Does anyone correspond with David and Mitzi Shinen who are working on a Central Siberian Yupik version of the New Testament?

    • I contacted some local people to see if they know who now heads up the project. I’ll get back when I hear anything.