Before I start this post, I would like to thank Timothy for giving me opportunity to post in this blog. I had been an avid reader of the blog maybe around 3 years already.
The Biblical environment here in the Philippines is not that extant compared to the US. Given the cost of sponsoring a translation, oftentimes, new translations here are being produced by organizations.
I would like to recount the history of Biblical translations chronologically, and with some background on the translation.
*1905 – The Philippine Bible Society produced the “Ang Biblia” (The Bible) version. This is a formal translation of the Bible, deriving mainly from the American Standard Version, with the exception that the Tetragrammaton is handled as “Panginoon” (Lord) unlike the ASV which uses Jehovah. Given the translational background of the ASV, you’ll expect ‘Ang Biblia’ also to be wooden at times. But until today, this is still used by many Protestant groups due to its literal nature, similar to how KJV is still valued by some Protestant groups in the US. For a long time, this was the only available Bible translation in the Philippines. ‘Ang Biblia’ has fell into public domain here in the Philippines.
*1950s – Msgr. Abriol did his own translation of the Bible from the Clementine Vulgate. His translation was known as the “Ang Banal na Biblia” (The Holy Bible). Maybe I could find a parallel to him to Msgr. Knox, since his version was initially used as the Catholic version in the liturgy. Also, the two also came from the Clementine Vulgate. The only difference is that while Msgr. Knox took on a slightly dynamic approach, Msgr. Abriol took on a formal approach. Perhaps his version can be claimed as the Philippine Douay-Rheims, because many of the traditional church vocabulary in the Philippines (which was loanwords from Spanish, the same applies for Biblical names of persons and places) was derived from this version. This version is rather a rare find and is only issued by the Paulines. (with Imprimatur)
Modern printings of the ‘Ang Banal na Biblia’ is already a revised version according to the Nova Vulgata. However, this is not the official liturgical version used here in the Philippines.
*1980s – In view of the recent changes in the Church’s liturgical structure, namely, (a) the Divino Afflante Spiritu which called for an opening of Biblical exegesis to the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic sources aside from the Latin Vulgate, (b) the Vatican II liturgical reforms which called for the conduct of Roman liturgy into vernacular, and (c) the Comme le prévoit, which called for a less formal translation of the Roman liturgy, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (CBCP-ECBA), in partnership with the Philippine Bible Society, sponsored a new translation called “Magandang Balita Biblia” (Good News Bible).
From the English translation of the title of the version, you are right in concluding that the version parallels in translation philosophy with the Good News Bible. The project was not only done for the Filipino (or Tagalog) language, but also for other Philippine regional languages. Nevertheless, the project was successful in reaching out to the Filipino Catholics in their native tongues. The version was also very instrumental in complementing the objectives of Vatican II by Dei Verbum, to make the Scriptures accessible to many.
For its wide usage and ecumenical nature, this version is used as the OFFICIAL BIBLICAL TRANSLATION FOR THE ROMAN LITURGY in the Philippines. (of course, with Imprimatur)
*1990s – Being a Protestant himself, President Fidel Ramos, by an Executive Order, mandated the “Philippine Bible Week” on the fourth week of January. This is still observed until now and is mainly sponsored by the PBS.
*2001 – After being dormant of the Philippine Biblical scholarship for a while, PBS decided to make a modern update of the “Ang Biblia”, named as “Ang Bagong Ang Biblia” (The New Bible). I think this version is comparable to NASB, as how the NASB was updated from ASV. For far as I am aware, this version is still lacking support in the Evangelical circles, being still loyal to the 1905 Ang Biblia.
*2005 – PBS also decided to update the “Magandang Balita Biblia”, maybe similar to how RSV was revised to NRSV, but the Filipino language don’t have an issue of inclusive language anyways, since our language provides neutral words and pronouns. It modernizes some antiquated language, and incorporated recent scholarship changes as well. One great example is the relegation of some verses from Sirach in the footnotes.
For the Catholic editions, the deuterocanonicals were already interspersed in the Old Testament, the 1980 edition only put them in between the Testaments. Due to the still wide use of the Catholic Church of the 1980 version, the 2005 revision still haven’t got enormous attention from Filipino Catholics.
Similar updates were also done to other versions to the regional languages, but like the Filipino (Tagalog) version, the updated ones were not adopted by the Church.
*2008 – PBS published a New Testament of the Filipino Standard Version (remember, the English Standard Version?). It is meant to be a translation coming in between the formal equivalent Ang Biblia (The Bible) and the dynamic equivalent Magandang Balita Biblia (Good News Bible). If you are to research for this version, you’ll find that the cover of this version somehow imitates the ESV.
However, this version remained a niche one. It even hadn’t gained any attention, and an Old Testament translation was not anymore conducted, with the people being loyal to either of the two earlier major versions.
*2010 (if I am right) – Biblica International, Inc., the same organization holding the rights for the NIV, sponsored a Biblical translation into Filipino, following the philosophy of the NIV, published a new translation into Filipino (Tagalog) and Visayan (Cebuano), called Ang Salita ng Diyos (The Word of God), if my memory serves me right. It was designed to be used by evangelicals (which is fairly obvious) as an alternative to the two major version.
Slowly, it is already gaining attention in the evangelical circles being used in parallel with the NIV.
Thank you for reading my post and I’m planning to have another one featuring English Bibles in the Philippines.