Doesn’t Ukraine have a Bible translation?

May 30th, 2009 by prof.kovaciny Leave a reply »

Ukraine already has four complete translations of the Bible. There are three you can trust but you can’t completely understand, and one you can understand but you can’t completely trust.

The three old translations use language I would call King James Ukrainian. Jesus and the Twelve sound like Robin Hood and the Merry Men. Many of the words in these translations aren’t found in any of my twelve dictionaries, and many Ukrainians don’t even have one.

The new translation you can understand but you can’t trust, because it was largely made with the help of a computer’s translation program. Also, it was translated from the Russian, not from the original languages.

Many Ukrainians can read Russian. But they don’t read Russian Bibles because the old Russian translation is even older than the old Ukrainian versions. There is to my knowledge only one modern Russian version, the Sovremenoye Perevod, and I’ve already found thirty major mistakes just in Genesis. Its best use is as a dictionary to help understand the old Russian Bible. Where they differ, the new one is usually wrong.

We are re-translating the Bible from the original languages so that Ukrainians will have a Bible they can both understand and trust. And when I’m done with the Ukrainian Bible I hope to do the same for the Russians, thanks to the generosity of my sponsors.

If you want 200 million former Soviet citizens to have Bibles that they can trust and understand, and would like to help, there is a way! Some guy said in the Bible, “I am too old to dig, and to beg I am ashamed.” I’m also too old to work with a shovel, but I’m not ashamed at all of begging. Please donate today! My colleagues both need at least a dollar-an-hour raise. One of them sounded like he wanted to quit last year because of the stress of too much work and so little salary that he had to do even more work at home, and it would have torpedoed the project if he had. But Mr. Jim Hildebrand of Columbus, Ohio, personally donated $2400 for him, so he’s still translating.

I’m not sure I can ask Mr. Hildebrand again, and besides my other colleague also needs a raise. Is there anyone else out there with a checkbook? Learn how to donate or view our current list of donors.



  1. Roman says:

    My name is Roman. Accidently I found your web. I read your article about translation of Ukrainian Bible. It is very interesting that you work on translation. I as know there is the Ukrainian Bible Society in Kiev. Last year they finished new translation which was made by Rafail Turkonyak. I am also interested in translation. If you have a chence please reply on this e-mail. I live in PA.

    • Dear Roman: Did we correspond already? I can’t remember but your name seems familiar. The first edition of the New Testament has been printed but there should be a second edition. Professor Turkonyak’s translation is excellent.

  2. Sergey says:

    I lived in Ukraine, and I can say what that the problem with Ukrainian language. Those, in estern Ukraine -drifted toward russian language with ukrainian endings, those in heart of Ukraine Kiev, they have contemporery (street) language, and those in western Ukraine, gone to far out west of ukrainian, those ukranians in Canada, stuck in the past with “King James” – ukrainian.
    My question is: Are you trying to develop new language that eventually satisfy all ukrainians?

    • What they are trying to do is write in good, clear, grammatical and idiomatic Ukrainian as it is spoken in West Ukraine but without West Ukrainian dialectical peculiarities.

    • No, we’re trying to do it in standard modern West Ukrainian. I’ve seen several books of “pravopys” published and those are the usages we try to follow, but with a small team, sometimes we err.

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