Beyond Spreading the Word of God: Igbo Bible Retranslation, Language Modernization and Religio-Ethnic Identity (Re)Construction


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships




Most Bible translators and consultants claim that their sole goal is to put the Bible in a people’s language to enable them read and understand and accept God’s message. This claim becomes problematic when more than one Bible translation is done into a language, as is the case with Igbo. The first full Bible translation into Igbo was published by the Anglican Church in 1913. However, the period between 1988 and 2019 saw five new Bible translations done into Standard Igbo – two by inter-denominational institutions and three by individual Christian denominations – and four in Igbo dialects. Consequently, through a descriptive linguistic analysis of data from the Bible texts and a content analysis of the paratexts, the present study explores how the Bible translations are used as a site for language modernization and religio-ethnic identity (re)construction.