Chuvash Scripture Translation
The Chuvash are descendants of the Bulgars, who were one of the most ancient civilizations in Europe within the Bulgar state of the 8th – 14th centuries. This state was stretching along the banks of the Volga and Kama rivers.
The written Chuvash language made its appearance in the second half of the 18th century. The first books in Chuvash were concerned with religious topics associated with the missionary activities of the Russian clergy who were spreading the Orthodox religion among the Chuvash.
The literary Chuvash language took its shape in connection with the educational activities of I.Yakovlev, who was Chuvash by his nationality and compiled the Chuvash alphabet in the 70-ies of the 19th century. He also started publishing religious, educational and other kind of literature.
Today the Chuvash language is widespread on the Rusian territory (in about 30 regions) and most of the Chuvash population has at least some command of it (1.637.000 people, according to the 2002 census). The Chuvash language is actively used in public education, by the media and in all spheres of spiritual culture of the Chuvash nation, as well as in everyday communication.
It should be noted that Chistianity is widespread in Chuvashia. .There are more than 200 churches, parishes and communities registered, including the Orthodox, Baptist, Evangelical, “Good News” Christian mission, Adventist and others.
Work on the Chuvash Scripture translation started already in the early 19th century. The first Bible books in the Chuvash language were published as early as 1820 by the Russian Bible Society founded in 1813. The New Testament translation was almost completed then, but only the four Gospels were published. In the second half of the 19th century a new Chuvash Bible translation was started, this time by Ivan Yakovlev – one of the outstanding man in the Chuvash culture. The New testament translation was completed, as well as some of the Old Testament books.
In 1991 this work was continued on the initiative of the Chuvash Bible Committee headed by the Metropolitan of Cheboksary and Chuvashia Varnava and with organizational, scholarly and financial support of the Bible Society of Russia and the United Bible Society.
For many years work was going on concerned with the translation and editing of the Scripture books. At different times many well-known Chuvash writers, poets and men of letters took part in Old Testament translation, including P.Afanasiev, D.Gordeev, V.Grigoriev, E.Lisina, G.Trofimov and others.
Bible translation is such a difficult task that even such experiences translator and editors, who have translated dozens of books, had to take a special training course through the seminars arranged by the United Bible Societies.
During all the recent years the final editing of the Chuvash Scripture translations was done by the well-known Chuvash writer Eva Lisina. Her life story is unique. E.Lisina is known as a writer in many regions of Russia, where her stories have been translated into local languages. She is also known outside Russia – the German radio often broadcasts translations of her stories and radio plays, which have been repeatedly recognized as the best of the genre. During the Chechen war, in 1996, Eva Lisina risked her life going to Chechnya to save young Chuvash soldiers from captivity.
In the 90-ies E.Lisina, by that time a well-known and accomplished writer of ample means, was living and working in Germany and had an apartment in Moscow. But in 1994, through God’s will, she was invited to participate in the project on Chuvash Bible translation. The work absorbed her to the extent that, leaving Germany and her Moscow apartment, she moved to Chuvashia where sge could devote herself wholly to this divine work. Since then, for ten years already she has continuously been working on the Scripture translation and editing. Occasionally she goes to stay in the Cheboksary women’s convent, so that nothing could hinder her work, where she spends time praying and working on the bible translation.
“The Chuvash Scripture translation is the main thing in my life”, — says Eva Lisina.
In the end 2010, we are publication of the full complete Chuvash Bible.
You can see presentation of the full Bible in the Chuvash language here:
The Chuvash become the second nation I Russia after the Russians proper to have the Bible in their own language.