BibleTrans Business Plan

This isn't a profit-making business, but if we are going to use BibleTrans (the software) to finish the job of making a Bible translation available in every language that needs it by 2026, we need a plan of action and a budget. This is a start.

Where We Are Today

We have working software that runs on PCs (download a copy here).

We have licensed the Louw&Nida lexicon from the American Bible Society and the Greek text from the United Bible Society (I must pay royalties on the licensed text, but if you are serious about using BibleTrans, ask for a licensed version).

We have the entire epistle to the Philippians and the first four chapters of the gospel of Luke encoded in the BibleTrans semantic database (download it with the software). This data still needs work before it is ready for real translations, but it is a good start. Elizabeth Miles is very smart and she did a very good job, but she was only a student working on it part-time. We need experienced linguists and Bible translators doing this, or at least supervising it. I know some linguistics, but I am a computer programmer, not a professional linguist or Greek scholar, and I did not do a very good job of supervision. It shows.

What Is Needed

There are 7942 verses (259 chapters) in the Greek New Testament. Each verse costs about $100 in labor to encode, including adequate supervision and review. Dedicated and well-trained volunteers could conceivably do the work, but my experience is that people who are paid for their time are more willing to slog through the details. In any case, anybody not spending 20-30 hours/week on the job will forget too much between sittings, and their work will be unacceptable quality.

I paid $2000 per chapter for Philippians and Luke. I needed to spend twice that for the quality required for church-ready translations. "The workman is worthy of his hire," God tells us. If we are unwilling to pay for quality work from people spending the time on it necessary to make quality work, then we will not get quality work.

Encoding the entire New Testament will cost $1 million, if we pay people what they are worth in the job market.

If a dozen (or more) competent and experienced translators took a year or two off their on-going translation projects to encode the entire New Testament, they could go back to their translation projects three years ahead of where they would have been. If their present supporters continued to support them, that would cover most of the labor costs.

We still need a competent administrator (not my forte), and some secretarial help and some technical staff. I can do some or all of the technical work, but I have pretty much reached the end of what I can do for free. I lack funds to live on during my (still future) years of cognitive decline. By God's command, I need to work at some paying job (now), if I'm going to eat (then).

The Old Testament is three times larger than the New Testament (more encoding to do, and a higher level of competence needed for the Semitic languages). The software is also not yet ready for Hebrew, and there is not yet a Hebrew version of the Louw&Nida lexicon that can be used. We would need to do all that.

If we are going to do this on pizza donations ($20 each from a half-million individuals), then we also need staff fundraisers and accountants to manage all the receipts and paperwork.

A computer video game costs between $1 million to $10 million to develop and take it to market, about the same as getting BibleTrans ready for translating the Bible. Is the Bible worth as much to 300 million people worldwide who have no Bible at all today, as a video game is to 1 million Americans?

Rev. 2008 April 25