An Image from a Feature of the Bible Society Centenary Celebrations
Bible Society Centenary Celebrations
© National Library of Australia

Global Bible: British and German Bible Societies Translating Colonialism [GloBil]

Project lead and contact person:


University of Münster: Center for Religion and Modernity

Project duration and funding agency:

April 2023 to March 2026 – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (ACHR), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Research question:

What motivated the movement to translate the bible into all the languages of the world? What connects British and German bible societies with European infiltration of peoples on colonial frontiers? Who created the translations, and what was their reception and long-term impact?

Project Abstract:

The Global Bible (GloBil) project aims to critically analyse the British and German contributions in the creation of a global Bible, that is, the attempt to translate the Christian scriptures into all the languages of the world. By the beginning of the twentieth century, part of the Bible had been translated into some 1000 languages, including many languages that had not previously known a written language. Much of what we know today about the languages of the non-Western world is based on the arduous work of indigenous translators and missionary linguists from the colonial period, often over decades. However, this important knowledge has remained largely hidden in religious archives until today. GloBil will open up the archives of German and British Bible societies to uncover the history of the global Bible movement and its discovery of global languages. To this end, GloBil will examine Bible translations in three geographically distinct regions; the Arctic, Oceania and Australia, and West Africa. These regions are significant in that they illustrate the different frontier regions into which British and German colonisers penetrated and the diversity of encounters with a wide range of languages and peoples. GloBil seeks to trace the global Bible movement in these three regions and to uncover the contribution of indigenous translators and evangelists as well as the significant contribution of the British and German Bible societies.

Digital methods to be used:

  • Visualisation
  • Databases
  • Open-source code

Role of SCDH in this project:

Through the support of the SCDH, a global Bible database and map will be created. The data will be digitised from about 1,000 Bible translations collected in the Book of a Thousand Tongues and transferred to an interactive, freely accessible online tool.