Christian leaders introduced the first translation of the New Testament in Romani on November 15, 2022. It was published in the Czech Republic and presented in Smíchov.
The news was announced by Gustav-Adolf-Werk (GAW), of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Deutschlandfunk radio also reported the event on January 6. The publisher of the translation is the Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation in Trebechovice pod Orebem.
The Roma Language
Three native speakers worked on the translation “O Névo Zákonos” for twelve years. The team included translator Koloman Stanek, scholar Zbynek Andrs, and coordinator Daniel Hrdinka, according to the GAW release.
Romani is the language of the Roma. It is spoken throughout Europe and beyond in various country-specific dialects. The New Testament was translated into the so-called Abov dialect, which is spoken in Košice and the surrounding area in Slovakia and is understood by most Romani speakers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the Czech Republic, about 3 percent of the population belongs to the Roma minority.
Panel Discussion and Handover Ceremony
To mark the publication, the Adventist church congregation in Trebechovice pod Orebem held a press conference with the translation team and the leaders behind the initiative. The event also included a panel discussion on the significance of the Bible for today’s society, a ceremony to hand over the books to readers, a concert of Jewish and Roma music, and a dinner of Roma specialties.
“Roma, I have translated for you the book that is dear to my heart — the Bible — into the Romani language. I thank God for giving me strength and understanding, and I also thank the people who helped me,” Stanek, the translator, writes in his preface.
Coordinator Hrdinka explained, “The translation brought together people with different life stories and knowledge, including ordinary believers, with whom Koloman Stanek checked the clarity of the expressions. In addition, there were specialists in Romani grammar, proofreading, typesetting, and printing, and donors who contributed to the printing costs. I sincerely wish that readers will feel in this book a spiritual connection to the kind Father in heaven, and moreover, a connection to the roots of their culture.”
‘Most Important Religious Event of the Year’
“I consider the publication of the New Testament in Romani one of the most important religious events of 2022 in the Czech Republic,” Mikuláš Vymetal of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (EKBB) said, according to GAW. “Romani speakers will finally be able to read the entire New Testament in their language. At the same time, the event will also draw the attention of non-Roma to the fact that there are many Roma in the Czech Republic who profess the Christian faith,” he said.
Daniela Cincibusová, a member of the Commission for the Roma at the World Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, emphasized that the Romani language is threatened with extinction in the Czech Republic: “The publication of the translation ‘O Névo Zákonos’ can, in addition to strengthening the Roma minority spiritually, also strengthen their language so that it does not die out.”