Philippine Bible Society


In light of the renewed interest on the Pinoy Version New Testament on social media, the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) is issuing the following statement.

What We Believe and Our Mandate

PBS believes that the Bible is the holy Word of God.  As such, PBS is mandated to guard and protect the integrity of God’s Word.  God spoke because he wants to communicate his message meaningfully. Part of our mandate is to make the message of the Bible available to the Filipino people in translations they can meaningfully understand and appreciate. 

The Bible was written originally in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. PBS requires that its translations are faithful to the original biblical languages, that they are easy to understand, and that they do not have any doctrinal comment.  Since 1899, PBS has successfully developed a strategy to meet the needs of the greater majority, first by translating into the major languages: Tagalog, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bikolano, Pangasinan, Pampango, Cebuano, and Waray.  The second strategy is to choose between the two basic approaches in translation.  Each of the major languages has a formal translation and a meaning- based translation.  This makes sure everyone has access to a translation that is appropriate to the needs and context of each reader.

Formal Translations and Meaning-based Translations

Historically, the first translations were formal translations, for example in Tagalog, the Ang Biblia published in 1905.  A formal translation reflects the physical characteristics of the original language text, following the tradition, for example, of the American Standard Version (1901).  Then, the meaning-based approach was developed in the 1960’s to the 1970’s. 

In 1965, the II Vatican Council made a pronouncement that all Roman Catholics should read the Bible.  PBS, in cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church, then started producing interconfessional translations with very clear principles jointly approved by the United Bible Societies and the Vatican. 

The appeal to meaningful translations led to the consideration of the needs of different audiences.  Until 1980, the formal and meaning-based translations, supposedly used by adults, were assumed to meet the needs of all Bible readers.  Then came the need to segregate the different types of audiences in the late 1990’s. The publication of the “Ang Children’s Bible sa Wikang Filipino” (2003) attests to the fact that there are different types of speakers among the Tagalog speaking population, this time age being the basis of difference. Those in the age group 15-35 are perceived to have developed a variety of Tagalog characterized by the mixing of Tagalog and English.

Heterogeneous Language as Reverent Language too

In 1970, the socio-historical and political changes in the Philippines, with more concentration on the National Capital Region, led to the evolution of changes in the way people speak.  The first major change happened in 1970-1990, resulting in the shift from English to Tagalog.  The second major shift happened in 1991-2005 resulting in the use of a heterogeneous language, Tagalog in structure but with numerous borrowing from English.  While these are English words, they are subjected to the morphology and syntax of Tagalog.  The result is what is commonly called Taglish. This complex interplay of Tagalog and English is a result of parsimony or economy.  This refers to a tendency of a speaker to choose the easiest way to express meaning.  In Taglish, a speaker retains the natural flow of thought when one speaks.  There are things easier expressed in English while some are easier said in Tagalog/Filipino. 

One accusation made about the Pinoy Version New Testament is that it “takes away the holiness of the Scriptures”.  Holiness is an attribute of God and nothing can change that.  PBS translations have retained the meaning of the text and the element of holiness in the translation, as you can see from these examples:

Luke 22.41-42

Ang Biblia 2001

At siya’y humiwalay sa kanila na may agwat na isang itsang bato; at siya’y nanikluhod at nanalangin.  Na sinasabi, “Ama, kung ibig mo, ilayo mo sa akin ang sarong ito gayon ma’y huwag mangyari ang aking kalooban, kundi ang iyo.”

The element of holiness is observed by many through the formality of the language in the rendering of Ang Biblia.  This formality is supported by retaining the literal rendering of may agwat na isang itsang bato ‘about a stone’s throw’; archaic forms in nanikluhod; sarong ‘cup’; gayong and kalooban archaic forms.  But this formal way is not the way the young people speak.

Magandang Balita Biblia  (MBB) 2018

Iniwan niya sila at pumunta sa di-kalayuan at doo’y lumuhod at nanalangin.  Sabi niya, “Ama, kung loloobin mo, ilayo mo sa akin ang kopang ito, ngunit huwag ang kalooban ko ang masunod, kundi ang kalooban mo.”

In this rendering of MBB, the words ama ‘father’; kung loloobin mo ‘if you will’ and  huwag ang kalooban ko  ‘not my will’; make the translation sound formal. They are words not used in a casual or informal conversation. 

Pinoy Version 2018

Iniwan nya sila, lumayo nang konti bago lumuhod at nag-pray, “Tatay, please, kung pwede po, wag ko nang maranasan ang paghihirap na to. Pero dapat mangyari ang gusto mo, hindi yung gusto ko.”

Terms used in an ordinary conversation are: tatay instead of ama; konti rather than di-kalayuan; nag-pray instead of nanalangin; pwede instead of kung loloobin mo; gusto mo instead of kalooban mo.  These words have the same corresponding terms in the Ang Biblia and MBB.  The same meaning of holiness is expressed in a different way, in an informal way. This is the meaning of casual or informal rendering but within the bounds of reverent language.

Our Continuing Commitment

The goal of PBS is for all Filipinos to read the Bible and encounter God in a meaningful way.  If a Bible translation is difficult to understand, people will not read it.  So, it has to be easy. It can be easy if it captures the way people naturally speak. Many Filipinos have reached a stage where many times, the most natural way to speak is to use a heterogeneous language.  For many young Filipinos, there is now a gap between the way people speak and the way Bibles are written.  The Pinoy Version New Testament wants to bridge that gap to serve the Scripture requirements of this young generation.  The Pinoy Version New Testament uses the language young people use everyday.  As a result of all these, the language may sound informal.  But the element of reverence in the Pinoy language is maintained in spite of the informality. 

The PBS is committed to serve the Scripture requirements of all Filipinos. We are committed to provide all Filipinos with translations that continue the legacy of the early Christians and the succeeding generations of believers who transmitted to us God’s Holy Word.  We will continue to provide you with translations that are faithful and meaningful, but also reverent and responsive to the needs of every Filipino, especially during this time of global pandemic. May God’s Word continue to heal, restore, and unite us all.  We also enjoin everyone to pray for PBS, that we will always live by our divine mandate. God bless us all!

The Philippine Bible Society Board of Trustees and Staff

August 28, 2020