History of the Bible Translation
Bible Society of Mongolia work on the translation of the Bible into Mongolian started in 1971. Mongolian Peoples’ Republic (today Mongolia) was politically associated with the former Soviet Union and tightly closed to the west. At that time Mongolia had no Christian input or influence. It was a Socialist state (‘Communist’) with Marxist ideology yet very many Mongolians secretly had strong animistic or shamanist worldviews together with those of Buddhism, from Mongolia’s past history.
God led someone from the West to start the work. They had some assistance and training from Wycliffe Bible Translators and United Bible Societies, in addition to theological training.
The translation work involved some Mongolians. As it progressed over years, each stage was thoroughly checked by international consultants of Wycliffe Bible Translators and United Bible Societies. The New Testament was published in Hong Kong by United Bible Societies, in August 1990, 13 days after the first free election in Mongolia. Copies arrived in Ulaanbaatar. The Bible Society of Mongolia was first started there in December 1990, and registered early in 1991.
Over the following years, Bible Society of Mongolia continued to work on translating the Old Testament into Mongolian. The work was based on the Biblical text in Hebrew and Aramaic. The team member involved with the Biblical text had training in Biblical languages. See about the translation. The New Testament, based on the Biblical text in Greek, was also revised. Finally the translation consultants of Wycliffe Bible Translators and United Bible Societies completed the checking of the whole Bible against the Biblical texts and wholeheartedly approved it for publication. In July 2015 the complete Bible in Mongolian language went on sale for the first time.
Buddhism was introduced into what is today Mongolia in the fourth century AD and was re-introduced in the sixteenth century. Shamanism is though the traditional Mongolian worldview and its pantheon of demigods is widely revered today, as it was by the great Mongol Khans of thirteenth century in their conquering of Euro-Asia. Following the worldwide collapse of socialist ideology, from 1990, Mongolia faced many political and social changes and Mongolian nationalism flourished, bringing with it a strong new wave of traditional Mongolian Buddhism. Later, traditional Mongolian shamanism experienced an extensive revival.
Throughout, over the years, Bible Society of Mongolia has researched, studied, analysed, tested and found approval for the God honouring, clear terms it uses in translation. Bible Society of Mongolia has consistently avoided any form of syncretism, seeing God as holy, detached from human religion. Bible Society of Mongolia avoids the usage of language which would connect Bible concepts with traditional Mongolian religions.