Illustrated book of Prophet Jonah published in Siberian Chukchi language

The Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) is continuing its blessed work of translating the Holy Scriptures into the languages of the indigenous peoples of Northern and Far Eastern Russia. Following on the heels of the translation of the Gospel of Luke into the Chukchi language, released in late March, the IBT has released an illustrated translation of the book of the Prophet Jonah into the same language, the Institute’s website reports.

Chukchi is a language spoken by the Chukchi people in the easternmost edge of Siberia, mainly in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. As of 2002, about 7,700 of the 15,700 Chukchi people speak Chukchi, and knowledge of the language is decreasing.

The book of Jonah represents the IBT’s first Old Testament translation into Chukchi, with the Russian Synodal translation provided in parallel.

For centuries, the Chukchi people have been fishers and whalers, and have long been renowned seafarers, thus it is believed and hoped that the book of Jonah in particular will appeal to those among the population who desire to read the word of God in their native tongue. In order to bring Biblical meanings closer to the context of local life, it was decided to include color illustrations in the translation. Irina Pavlishina, an artist from Khabarovsk, who previously had success in illustrating books of Chukotka folklore, vividly painted the events set out in the book of Jonah in detail.

Given that the book of Jonah reflects the essential moments of human existence before the face of God, and raises important questions about disobedience to God, repentance, and God’s mercy, the IBT hopes that the new release will awaken the interest of the Chukchi reader in the Bible as a whole.

Native speakers and experts in the Chukchi language, as well as experts from the IBT worked on the translation, and the Institute’s website will also soon offer an audio version of the book of Jonah.

The next translation in the Chukchi series will be Bible Stories, which will also include illustrations from Irina Pavlishina.

To read about the fascinating work of a missionary priest in Chukotka, see the article “Surviving as a Christian: A Missionary Priest in Chukotka.”