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Jehovah’s Witnesses Unveils Urhobo, Pidgin, New World Translations Bibles

On Sunday, February 12, 2023, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Nigeria unveiled the New World Translation Bibles in two languages indigenous to Nigeria, Urhobo and Pidgin English. The event coincided with the visit of representatives of the Governing Body of the organization to Nigeria. It was broadcast live to Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls of Jehovah’s Witnesses located around the country with over a total of over half a million people participating.

The key highlight of the event, the release of the New Testament of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in Urhobo and Pidgin English, was overseen by Mr. Jeffrey Winder, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 According to Mr. Jama Onwubuariri, Media Representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Pidgin English is spoken by over 75 million persons in Nigeria. Other speakers can be found in West Africa, Europe and the US. These speakers deserve to understand God’s Word without the hindrance of language. The idea is to produce a Pidgin translation that could speak to the heart of Pidgin English speakers in different countries of West and Central Africa.”

“There are about 5 million users of the Urhobo language. The language has some dialects and has changed over time. This translation in Urhobo is done in accordance with the dynamism of the language and can easily be understood by various dialectal groups within the Urhobo community.” He said.

According to Mr. Jahswill Stevens, another Media Representative of Jehovah’s Witnesses, “in a world full of challenges, the message of the Bible brings the comfort and hope we so desperately need. Our goal is not financial profit; we are motivated by love for people, because we want to help as many people as possible to have access to this message in their language.”

All translators are Jehovah’s Witnesses volunteers and have chosen to remain anonymous. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been publishing an increasing number of videos in Urhobo and Pidgin English with the content of Bible-based books, magazines, movies and songs with advice that helps people deal with everyday challenges. There is content available for all audiences: children, young people, parents, families.

One of the most widely distributed magazines in the world – The Watchtower – is also available in Urhobo and Pidgin English. The Pidgin and Urhobo language publications can easily be accessed from jw.org by selecting the required language from the top right corner of the site. Also, the publications, including the newly released Urhobo and Pidgin English Translations, can be downloaded and read on JW Library App.

All the material produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses are made available free of charge. Their publications are part of a voluntary work to help people around the world to understand the Bible. Expenses for their work are covered by donations.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been active in Nigeria since 1921. They now number over 400,000.·Their educational work is carried out in over 240 lands and is voluntary. All publications produced by the Witnesses, including the Bible, are distributed free of charge. The Witnesses respect each person’s right to decide whether to listen to their message or not.

There are no national or social barriers among Jehovah’s Witnesses – they are from hundreds of countries, speak hundreds of languages and address one another simply as Brothers and Sisters

Some of the characteristics of the New World Translation and manuscripts were used to produce it are:

Hebrew (Old Testament) Text: The New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (1953-1960, in English) was based on Rudolf Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica. Since then, updated editions of the Hebrew text, such as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the Biblia Hebraica Quinta, have included recent research based on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient manuscripts. These scholarly works reproduce the Leningrad Codex and include notes with comparative texts from other sources, such as the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Targum, the Latin Vulgate, and the Syriac Peshitta. The editions of Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and Biblia Hebraica Quinta were consulted.

Greek (New Testament) text: In the late 19th century, scholars B. F. Westcott and F.J.A. Hort compared existing manuscripts and fragments of the Bible in preparing a standard Greek text that they believed faithfully reflected the original writings. The standard text of these scholars was used as the basis for this translation, in addition to other ancient papyri, probably dating from the second and third centuries CE. Furthermore, standard texts such as those by Nestle and Aland and the United Bible Societies reflect recent scholarly research. Some of the findings from these surveys were included in the 2013 revision of the New World Translation of the Bible.

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