Our worldwide work - The United Bible Societies

The Bible Society in Israel is part of a worldwide fellowship of 145 Bible Societies that are active in over 200 countries and territories. Together we form the “United Bible Societies” (UBS). Our goal is that the Bible will be available, used, and known in Israel and in the entire world. Together we are the largest Bible publishers in the world.

The Bible Society of the State of Israel was founded after the establishment of the State, in 1949, but even before that, the Bible Society worked in the Holy Land as a local agency of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS). The BFBS was founded in 1804. Throughout the years different National Bible Societies from all over the world worked in cooperation. In 1946 this was formalized when the United Bible Societies (UBS) was founded in a convention in the town of Elfinsward in southern England.

The UBS webpage

The UBS has a central services base in Reading, England. This "World Service Center" provides the resources to:

  • Coordinate the work of the growing number of national Bible Societies.
  • Act as a hub for communication and financial transactions.
  • Provide specialist central resources that reduce duplication.
  • Represent the global body of Bible Societies.

Why do we need national Bible Societies in so many countries?

Because millions of people around the world cannot obtain a Bible in their own language at a price they can afford. Also, there are millions who don’t understand the need for the Bible as individuals or for society as a whole. This is sometimes referred to as “biblical poverty."

Our worldwide goal is that the divine revelation, wisdom, and inspiration of the Bible will shape lives and communities everywhere. Our goal is also that more and more believers will find the courage to apply God’s Word in their daily lives and demonstrate through their lives the relevance of the Bible today.

What we do in the world:

  • Translations – There are about 4,400 languages in the world that don’t even have one portion of the Bible translated. Right now, Bible Societies all over the world are working on over 600 different translation projects.
  • Bibles for people who do not read, people who cannot read, and blind and deaf people. Many of these live in the poorest parts of the world. We create audio Bibles, Braille script Bibles and sign language Bibles.
  • Making the Bible affordable – minimizing the cost of the Bibles for people whose poverty makes Bibles a luxury they can’t afford. In some cases this means giving Bibles for free, for people deprived of everything, such as prisoners or refugees.
  • Fighting AIDS in African countries. The Word of God has proved to be a strong tool against this sickness and its influence. The Bible Society project encourages love for one another and challenges people to think differently through Yeshua’s parable about the Good Samaritan. The Bible Societies in these countries have workshops where they break down old myths and give people the biblical message of love and acceptance.
  • Presenting people with the relevance of the Bible. In the richer parts of the world, the Bible is often easily accessible, but more and more people fail to understand its importance and relevance to our lives today. The Bible Societies in these countries work to help people to read the Bible more often and apply the Word of God in their daily lives, presenting the Bible as the Word of the living God, and not as a set of codes and rules.

A summary, by UBS region and type of publication, of the number of different languages and dialects in which publication of at least one book of the Bible had been registered as of December 31, 2011:

Area Portions Testaments Bibles Bibles+DC1 Total
Africa 227 334 182 (39) 743
Asia-Pacific 345 536 186 (38) 1,067
Europe-Middle East 107 41 62 (51) 210
Americas 142 329 44 (11) 515
Constructed languages 2 0 1 (0) 3
Total 8232 1,240 475 (139) 2,538

1This column is a sub-section of the Bibles column - for example, there is a translation of the Deuterocanon for 51 of the 62 languages of Europe in which the Bible has been translated.

2The total number of portions registered can decline from year to year, since a portion in a particular language is removed from the portions column once the whole New Testament is available in that language. This 'upgrading' process also applies when a New Testament is replaced with a full Bible.