Catalan is a language spoken by seven million people in Andorra, Catalonia, (where it is the official language), the Balearic Islands, Valencia, and Northern Catalonia, (which is under the administration of France). Historically Roman Catholicism prevailed in these regions, but secularism is now dominant.
During the 20th Century, Catalan was forbidden and excluded by the Rivera dictatorship (1923-1931) and by the fascist Franco dictatorship (1939-1977). Its use was revived and given official status again during the Second Spanish Republic (1931-1939), but during Franco’s regime, the use of Catalan was again banned in school and in public administration. Since the Spanish transition to democracy (1977-82) Catalan has been recognised as an official language and has gained respect. There is no parallel in Europe for such a large, bilingual, non-state speech community. As a result of the complex history of Catalan, there is varied receptiveness to the Catalan Bible.
The Catalan Bible Translation
The Catalan Bible published by the TBS began in 1977 from the desire of a young Catalan student to have a copy of the Bible in his own language. The Catalan Bible he had at the time had many failings, including unhelpful study notes. In 1979, whilst studying Greek, he began to prepare an interlinear translation of the Greek into Catalan. By 1982 he had completed his initial draft of the Gospel according to John, and in 1984 he first made contact with the Society. In 1987 he moved to the UK with his wife, so that he could engage in more helpful studies whilst translating the New Testament full time. During this time a revision session was held in London, and the translation was always kept in line with the TBS Greek Received Text. By 1989 the Gospel according to John had been published.
A Reading and Revision Committee was established in 1990 with the task of checking the draft New Testament translation. The New Testament was finally printed in 1999. Work moved on to the Old Testament, with a smaller team comprising the translator and a reviser/secretary, with the whole Bible being published in 2009.
Following its publication, the Catalan Bible has been distributed in Catalonia. This has been done under the name of ‘Cristians Catalans’, a charity set up by the family of the translator, using funds for distribution. In 2011 a TBS Distribution Warehouse was also set up in Cardedeu-Terassa. From here a campaign is conducted to place a Bible in every library and school in Catalonia.