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Georgian Study Bible is Answer to Prayer


Georgian Study Bible is Answer to Prayer

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On July fourth, a truck pulled into Georgia's postal service carrying a promising package. This package represented four years of research and work, thousands of dollars in support, and decades of prayer.

Contained within the package? A study Bible -- the first Bible with a commentary in the Georgian language.

It's been one of the cornerstones of Eurasia Northwest to Finish the Task in Georgia.

Bishops Oleg Khubashvili and Roman Gachechiladze, leaders of the Pentecostal Union, the primary Evangelical church in the country of Georgia, had prayed for this day.

Georgian believers already possessed a Bible in their language for many years. Evangelicals knew the power of the Word.

But they longed for a Bible with context and more clarity in their language.

A team of five people came together to produce the new Bible. Tony Rybarczyk, an Assemblies of God missionary and managing editor, led the project.

The project began in 2011 and was finished in the spring of 2015. But as Rybarczyk pointed out, a translation of this size normally takes 8 to 12 years.

They were able to produce it much quicker, due to the aid and resources of other Georgian editors, readers, Christian churches, and Bible organizations.

Every person, every member of this team was crucial for this project, Guram Imerlishvili, project manager, said.

The current Georgian Bible's effectiveness was stunted without a commentary. To begin with, the team found that the commentary and text weren't consistent with each other.

"We had to address those textual issues because the comments did not match the text," Kote Dzebisashvili, co-translator/editor, said.

Ministers and laymen needed a commentary to compare and contrast as they studied their Bible. It breathed life into the historical and literary context of the time period in which it was written.

Daunting Task: Revising the Greater Work

At first, a translated commentary was the only objective.

Then, they began to pore through the current translation, verse by verse, comparing to other versions.

By the time they worked through Genesis, it was clear that the entire Georgian Bible must be revised.

Grammatical and spelling errors existed within the text, due to the speedy translation of the original text. In addition, some portions also contained phrases that were heavily influenced from the Georgian Orthodox Church, the dominant religion of the country.

Imerlishvili and the team were aware of these influences, so they took advantage of the many translations available to them to compare.

"We were digging in many modern and old translations to discover what is the truth there," Imerlishvili said. "And thanks to God, we did it."

Financial Miracles

The team had many difficulties ahead. Besides the work, the biggest obstacle was finances.

"We've had some challenges, but God always gave the right timing with everything that happened, everything that transitioned," Pastor Jim McNabb said.

Back in 1999, McNabb and his congregation at The Bridge Assembly of God first began working with the Georgian church. When he heard about the lack of a study Bible in their language, he felt God move on his heart.

After prayer, he and his church began raising support for the Georgian Bible Translation project. Over a period of several years, they raised over half a million dollars to see the project through.

"When God tells me something -- because God doesn't speak to me every day like He does some people -- when God tells me something, I know God speaks to my heart; the funds will be there," McNabb said.

In each phase of the project, the church partnered closely with the translation team, communicating and focusing on the need.

Multifaceted Focus

The Bible translation was worked on from several angles. 

Dzebisashvili focused on comparison to English Bible versions and technical editing. Imerlishvili used his background in Greek for the New Testament translation and looked at other Georgian versions. And the overall contextual revisions were led by Bishop Khubashvili, who also served as the theological editor.

When it was completed, the new Georgian Bible included several monumental characteristics they never had before:

• Complete commentary from the Thomas Nelson Publishing House.

• Reorganized chapter numbering of Psalms to match English and many other Bible versions

• Colored, historical maps and indexes

• Tabs for each book of the Bible

• Jesus' words were notated in red

"What we've done is, we've tried to bring it up to the next level," Dzebisashvili said.

(This article was originally posted on AGWM Eurasia Northwest.)

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