ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — For the first time a full translation of the Bible into the Kurdish dialect of Sorani has been published, after only partial translations existed in Kurmanji and Sorani.
“This is a very historic occasion, an amazing achievement…” said Carl Moeller, the CEO of Biblica.
Biblica, formerly known as the International Bible Society, said the work on the translation started in the 1850s, but was postponed because of wars and instability. The translation team restarted the initiative in the early 1990s.
“This is the first time in history such a thing has happened,” the Area Executive Director of Biblica’s Middle East/North Africa region said.
There are an estimated 15 million Sorani speakers in the world.
A cataloguer of Middle Eastern languages at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and renowned linguist believes this is the first full translation of the book into Sorani.
“It may be the only full translation into Sorani. I’ve only seen small portions translated into Sorani before this,” Michael Chyet told Rudaw English. “The entire New Testament was translated into Kurmanji in the 19th century — in Armenian script, and with major grammatical errors.”
About 200,000 Christians live in the Kurdistan Region. Another 200,000 fled to other countries from Iraq to other countries after ISIS, according to Shlomo, a pan-Christian non-governmental organization in Ainkawa.
According to statistics from the Orthodox Church, 30 Orthodox families remain in Baghdad. Shlomo has said about around 2,000 Christian people have been displaced in Baghdad.
The last Iraqi census in 1987 counted 1.4 million Christians.
There are four primary Christian sects in Iraq — Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs, and Armenian Orthodox. Many speak a Semitic language similar to Aramaic, while most Chaldeans speak Kurdish.
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