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Bible translations into the languages of Indonesia and Malaysia

Malaysian and Indonesian Bible translations have a lot of common history up until the modern era. While the Malaysian languages only consist of Malay language and a few other languages, Indonesian languages consist of more than 726 local languages, Malay language being one of them.

Malay (until 20th century)

Albert Cornelius Ruyl, a Protestant, translated Mark and Matthew into Malay[1]

The main Translators of the Bible into the Malay language were Melchior Leidekker, H.C. Klinkert, and W.G. Shellabear. Leidekker was appointed to the ministry of the Dutch churches at Batavia in 1678.[2]

The 3 volume Biblia malaïce by J. Willmet in 1824[3]

Modern standard Malay

  • Today´s Malay Version (1987)


Since Indonesia gained its independence, there have been at least ten Bible translations made, due to the rapid changes in the Indonesian language; every few years each translation's language becomes outdated. The most widespread translation used by Indonesian speakers right now is the Terjemahan Baru, or "New Translation" (1974), published by LAI ("Lembaga Alkitab Indonesia," or Indonesian Bible Society).

List of modern (1945 onward) translations:

  • Alkitab Terjemahan Lama (1958): called the Old Translation after the New Translation (1974) came out. Before that it was the only translation in the Indonesian language. However, it was not an original translation; rather, it was a combined translation from Klinkert's Old Testament (1879), in Malay language, and Bode's New Testament (1938) also in Malay language, which was called "an emergency publication"[4]
  • Alkitab Bouma/Ende (1968): first Catholic translation in Indonesian language by P.Y. Bouma, printed in Ende, Flores, Nusa Tenggara Timur
  • Alkitab Terjemahan Baru (1974): first fresh Protestant translation in Indonesian language by Indonesian Bible Society's team of translators, printed in Jakarta
  • Alkitab Kabar Baik (BIS) (1985): first dynamic translation in Indonesian language (since Terjemahan Baru was translated in formal Indonesian) by IBS, based on Today's English Version
  • Firman Allah Yang Hidup (1989) by Yayasan Kalam Hidup: printed in Bandung, this translation is based on The Living Bible, and paraphrased by a team led by Dr. Ganda Wargasetia
  • Kitab Suci Injil (2000): a revision of 1912 Malay New Testament by Shellabear, printed side-by-side with its Greek text
  • Kitab Suci Komunitas Kristiani (2002) by Yayasan OBOR: a new Catholic translation, printed in Jakarta
  • Alkitab Versi Mudah Dibaca (2005) by World Bible Translation Center: a new translation based on the Easy to Read Version
  • Indonesian Literal Translation (2008) by Yayasan Lentera Bangsa: a new translation aimed primarily at the wording of "Yahweh" instead of "Allah" (used in every other Indonesian Bible)
  • Wasiat Baru - King James Indonesia (2011): a new translation based on the King James Version and other English versions such as the New International Version

Notable translations in other Indonesian languages


Gottlob Brückner (1783–1857) translated the Bible into Javanese language, the largest local language of Indonesia, in 1820[5]

  • Brückner Bible: printed 1829 in Serampore
  • Gericke Bible: 1848
  • Janz Bible: 1893
  • Indonesian Bible Society: 1994 (OT and NT in Today Java's Version) and 2006 (NT in Javanese Formal Translation)

Dayak Ngaju

J.F. Becker and A. Hardeland translated the Bible into Dayak Ngaju language of southern Kalimantan (1846 NT, 1858 OT)


J. Esser translated the Matthew into Sundanese language of western Java (1854). Then G.J. Grashuis translated Luke in 1886. In 1877, the whole New Testament was finished by Sierk Coolsma, and followed by the whole Bible in 1891. Coolsma also published some books of the NT in Arabic script (Jawi script) in 1871.


B.F. Matthes (1818–1908) translated the Bible into Bugis language of southern Sulawesi (1863 Matthew, 1888 NT, 1901 OT) and Makassar language (1864 Matthew, 1888 OT, 1900 NT).

Batak Toba

Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen (1834 - 1918), of the Rhenish Mission Society, translated the Bible into Batak Toba of northern Sumatra (1878 in Batak script and 1885 in Latin script)


E.T. Steller (1834–1897) translated the Bible into Siau language (1883 NT) and Sangir language of northern Sulawesi (1942 NT).


External links