Translation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
የኢትዮጵያ ፌዴራላዊ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ሪፐብሊክ
Haile Emiru was born in Ethiopia on August 24, 1961. At the age of 17, he was saved through the ministry of a Baptist Church in the capital city of Addis Ababa. He himself would say that it has been quite a journey since then.
Ethiopia is an ancient land in the Horn of East Africa. Noah had four grandsons through his son Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan (Gen. 10). Palestine was the home of the tribes that descended from Canaan. Mizraim founded Egypt and Phut founded Libya. Ethiopia was settled by Cush and his descendants. This history is attested to by the fact that Ethiopia’s main official language, Amharic, is a Semitic language and is related to Hebrew. To this day, the Hebrew word for Ethiopia is “Cush.” Ethiopia has a population of over 99 million. There are 88 languages spoken in the country according to the Ethnologue. Major languages include Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Tigrinya, and Sidamo. The Baptist International Mission Board lists 122 distinct ethno-linguistic people groups of which 104 are considered unreached by the gospel. Out of the 122 people groups, 52 do not have a Bible in their first/birth language. Some of the languages, in particular Amharic, have a Bible that has many errors and problems.
Haile grew up and entered the ministry in this atmosphere. He first earned a BA in biology and chemistry. Later as God worked in his heart, he embarked on a study of theology in a Bible Institute. He planted and pastored two churches for several years before becoming the pastor of the church where he had been saved. His zealous evangelism earned him some enemies. The country’s Muslim leaders raised a dangerous persecution against him and his family (he and his wife had three daughters and a son). Their very lives were threatened. Due to this he eventually found himself with little choice, but to flee Ethiopia. He and his family retreated to England. While there he became pastor of a small London church and revitalized it. In September 2015, he moved to the United States and now resides in Indianapolis, Indiana. His desire is to start another church there as well as continue to translate the Bible into Amharic.
Bible translation work has long been a burden on Haile’s heart. While still in Ethiopia in 2006, Haile made an extensive examination of three of the five existing Amharic Bibles: the 1886 version, the 1962 version, and the NIV 2001 version. The 1886 was found to be good in some respects, but has "Sabbath" as "Saturday" (which is very much favored by Seventh Day Adventists, they use it persuade people people towards their Seventh Day teaching). The word "synagogue" is translated as "mosque." The other two translations that he examined were translated from the Critical Greek Text of the New Testament. The Critical Text has thousands of significant differences with the Received Greek Text from which the King James Version was translated. The Received Text is by far the best text. The two versions Haile did not compare were also Critical Text translations. Haile’s heart was deeply concerned about the need of his people for an accurate, true, trustworthy, and mature translation of God’s holy Word. He determined to translate the Bible into Amharic from the Received Text and do his utmost to provide his people with that kind of Bible.
However, he would not be able to begin translating for another six years. He sought approval as a translator from Trinitarian Bible Society. They were not ready to give him permission to begin, although since 2007 they have had him translate verses for the Amharic Calendar TBS publishes. There were some things he needed to learn before beginning to translate the New Testament. He studied New Testament Greek in Bible school, but he felt a need to deepen his understanding of the language. So, for three years, he was tutored in New Testament Greek via Skype by George Anderson, the founder of the Baptist Bible Translator’s Institute in Bowie, Texas. While he and his family lived in England, he also studied Hebrew. Finally, the Trinitarian Bible Society accepted Haile as a translator.
Haile began translating in earnest in 2012. To date (November 2015), he has translated John, Matthew, Luke, Mark 1-10, and 1 John. His goal is to finish the New Testament in 2018 and the Old Testament in 2024.
We at Bearing Precious Seed Global/Global Bible Translators were able to spend quite a few hours with Haile recently. We hope that in some way we can help further his ministry of translation. This is a true missionary with a heart for God and for service; a pastor, a church planter, and a translator.
Haile Emiru is worthy of being considered for support by churches. We recommend you contact him. His email is below: