Launch of the Myanmar Language Version of the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms in Application Form
The Association for Theological Education in Myanmar (ATEM) is an ecumenical body founded by the Myanmar Council of Churches in 1986 to promote coordination and cooperation in the upgrading of theological education in Myanmar. It started with eight member schools and 12 member churches and has now grown to 36 member schools representing 11 major denominations. The Association coordinates resources and promotes programs aimed at strengthening and upgrading theological education.
Biblical and spiritual books are being translated into the Myanmar language to meet the thirst for spiritual resources and hunger for Biblical knowledge and information. As theological terms are not of Myanmar origin, translators are translating these terms on their own for their own purposes. Hence, a diverse usage of theological terms is emerging and flooding the theological literature scene. Many new translations are beginning to emerge in the theological field. Hence, it has become especially important to bring precision to the use of theological terms in Myanmar. ATEM has felt the need to provide standard theological terms to create harmony and unity in the use of theological terms in the Myanmar language.
The Theological Literature Department of ATEM has thus selected the “Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms” (WDTT) by Donald K. McKim, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1996, as the basic book for providing standard Myanmar Theological terms. Permission has been granted to translate the book by the author and the publisher, Westminster Publications. The aims and objectives of the project continue to be to create standard theological terms in the Myanmar language that would be beneficial to churches and the theological community in Myanmar. It is also our hope that the translators of works of both academic and popular books will be a ready resource in determining the right words and definitions for theological terms in the Myanmar language. The original Myanmar language version of the dictionary that was previously published in print had been translated by Mr. Nelson Siang Awr, who has many translated works to his credit and is the Director of the Myanmar Ecumenical Institute of the Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC). The manuscript of the translation was edited by a team comprising seven members from Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, and Roman Catholic churches.
In 2013, the first edition of 2,000 copies was published and distributed to ATEM member schools and various bookshops in Yangon. Within two years’ time, a considerable number of copies (for Myanmar) have been sold out. This encouraging interest in the book and its influence in the field of Myanmar theology have prompted the Theological Literature Committee of the ATEM to begin working on the second edition of the book. Beginning in 2015, three members (the original translator and two women who are experts in Myanmar language translation) started the work of revision, and it took them more than one and a half years to complete the work.
The Covid-19 pandemic that shut down the entire world until recently since early 2020, and the military coup in Myanmar, which continues to deeply affect every aspect of people’s lives in Myanmar, had many of us seeking new ways of being Church in Myanmar. The price of all things is flying off the charts, transportation has become really difficult even within the country, and airfare has increased four-fold compared to 2019. Along with all those challenges, the benefits of the digital age have had ATEM consider the convenience of everyone accessing this 548-page dictionary from their mobile phones. The Triennial meeting in May 2022 decided to upload the WDTT and other books in the App.
The print version of the WDTT, which was published in 2007, was done in partnership with the Ecumenical Theological Education in the WCC, the Danmission, and Langham Partnership. This current phase of the dictionary has been done in partnership with Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, and the Foundation for Theological Education in Southeast Asia (FTESEA).
The current version of the dictionary in the digital application form was launched on February 4, 2023 (Saturday at 7:00 pm in Myanmar), in an online event. The launch event program was moderated by Rev. Dr. Umnai Kui (TLC Chair), and the opening prayer was led by Sayama M. Nang Seng (Vice President, ATEM). A description of the historical background of the WDDT App Form was presented by Rev. Dr. Lal Tin Hre (Executive Secretary, ATEM), a demonstration of the app was made by Rev. Dr. Nang Sawm Piang (President, ATEM), and the dedication prayer was led by Rev. Mann Palmerston (General Secretary, MCC). Words of encouragement from Global Ministries were shared by Dr. Sarosh Koshy (Global Relations Minister, Southern Asia), and from the FTESEA were delivered by Rev. Dr. Wati Longchar (Executive Director). The meeting concluded with a word of thanks from the meeting moderator and a closing prayer and benediction by Rev. Khoi Lam Thang (General Secretary, Bible Society of Myanmar).
I am extremely happy about these wonderful achievements – the translation, publication of the book, and, lastly, the app version. I do not doubt that the app version will reach many people through their mobile phones and that our aim of creating standard theological terms, harmony, and unity in the use of theological terms in Myanmar will be materialized.
Dr. Lal Tin Hre
Association for Theological Education in Myanmar