Stories From the Field
Seizing the moment in Sudan
A group of Sudanese refugees is learning the fundamentals of sound Bible translation so they can take God's Word back to mill...
Open Bible Stories open doors for Gospel in Venezuela
For Piaroa Christians like Alejandra, having unfoldingWord’s Open Bible Stories translated from Spanish into her heart langua...
Equip Churches Worldwide with Bible Translation Tools

Home > Publications

Various unfoldingWord publications are available for download here.


The Gateway Languages Strategy

The Gateway Languages Strategy

Download version 2 of The Gateway Languages Strategy whitepaper in PDF format.

The Gateway Languages Strategy is a missiological model that leverages 21st century opportunities to provide all content, training, and tools needed for effective translation of biblical content in the smallest number of Languages of Wider Communication that covers 100% of the languages spoken collectively by the global Church through patterns of multilingualism.

Learn more about The Gateway Languages Strategy.

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Trustworthy and Trusted

Trustworthy and Trusted

Download version 1 of the Trustworthy and Trusted paper in PDF format.

Trustworthy and Trusted describes the difference between the trustworthiness of a Bible translation and the trust that the element of the global church that speaks the language has in it. It examines the means by which trust can be established, as well as the two key milestones through which every translation goes to arrive at trustworthiness. It considers historical precedents and suggests that while excellence must always be the goal, ongoing revision of Bible translations is to be expected, not avoided. It then describes the various means by which the church determines the trustworthiness of a Bible translation and considers how a systematic and comprehensive checking model could both improve the faithfulness of a translation and accelerate the process of achieving it. Finally, it proposes collaboration in the provision of resources and tools that implement the model.

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From Unreached to Established

From Unreached to Established

Download version 1 of the From Unreached to Established paper in PDF format.

From Unreached to Established describes the current reality regarding Bible translation by contrasting two different paradigms. The dominant paradigm of Bible translation in recent decades has been focused on the delivery of a quality product. The paper argues that this “Bible-centric” paradigm is becoming misaligned with the needs of the rapidly growing global church and is also facing a crisis due to lack of personnel to fill key quality assurance roles. The emerging “church-centric” paradigm integrates Bible translation into the process of establishing strong churches, providing improved scalability and alignment with the global church’s needs. This paradigm is shown to be facing its own crisis, due to lack of accessible resources. The paper concludes by showing how Bible agencies can help resolve this crisis by collaboratively creating these resources and training the trainers of the global church, but that doing so will require a transition from the objectives and metrics of the product-oriented, Bible-centric paradigm to the capacity-building, church-centric paradigm.

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Unrestricted Original Language Resources

Unrestricted Original Language Resources

This paper now has been published in the Hiphil Novum journal.
Download the Unrestricted Original Language Resources paper in PDF format.

Abstract: The unfoldingWord project exists in a new paradigm of Bible translation that has dual needs of access to content in Gateway Languages and the legal freedom to use, translate, and modify them to suit their context. The benefit of providing original language materials in the Gateway Languages is that it removes the barrier of needing to learn English to deepen one’s understanding of the text. This paper investigates whether or not restricted texts provide the legal freedom that Church-Centric Bible Translation (CCBT) needs, whether “All Rights Reserved”, Creative Commons NoDerivatives, or Creative Commons NonCommercial licenses. The only adequate public licenses for an original language resource to be translated are CC0, Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY), Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA), or possibly the Free Translate license.

This new paradigm has prompted the collaborative development of several materials that fit these needs. This paper describes the original language resources that are being created in conjunction with a new tool for checking Bible translations, translationCore. Many volunteers are working together to develop a suite of unrestricted materials, including: a Hebrew text (based on the Open Scriptures Hebrew Bible) and a Greek text (based on the Bunning Heuristic Prototype); Hebrew/Aramaic lexicon (based on Brown-Driver-Briggs) and a Greek lexicon (based on Abbott-Smith); and Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek reference grammars.

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Letting Go

Letting Go

Download version 1 of the Letting Go paper in PDF format.

Letting Go describes how the rapid expansion of the global church has created an urgent need for Bible translations and biblical content that lead to sound interpretation of Scripture and formation of faithful theology in every culture and people group. The most effective means of meeting this immense need is by the collaboration of the global church in an interdependent and highly scalable manner. This requires minimizing the legal friction intrinsic to the default “all rights reserved” licensing model, by making the needed content available under open licenses. This paper addresses many of the concerns that are raised by those desiring to open license resources and describes a strategy that equips the global church for freedom.

As with all our publications, feedback and comments on this paper are welcome, and will be considered in future revisions.

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Equipping the Global Church to Translate the BIble in its Own Language

Equipping the Global Church

Download Equipping the Global Church to Translate the Bible in its Own Language in PDF format.

We are living in a new age. Enormous advances in information storage, access, and communication directly affect Bible translation and distribution. These advances have been accompanied by profound changes in levels of worldwide education and multilingualism, in the relationships between cultures, and in the composition of the worldwide Church.

In light of all of these advances, it is time to reconsider our approach to Bible translation.

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The Christian Commons

The Christian Commons

Download the updated second edition (2015) of The Christian Commons in PDF, EPUB, or MOBI formats.

Click here to learn more about The Christian Commons.

Only in the last 100 years has world missions been built on a foundation of “all rights reserved.” This model is both legal and ethical, but it has limited reach. The missions task is immense, and millions of people in thousands of people groups are still waiting to receive even one biblical resource in their own language.

There is another way to equip the global church for spiritual growth. Christians all over the world can use 21st century technology to openly collaborate in the creation of unrestricted biblical content in any language. These unrestricted biblical resources—the Christian Commons—can be legally translated, adapted, built on, revised, redistributed, and used, by anyone, without hindrance, today. Unrestricted biblical resources can reach more people, in less time, with less expense, more effectively.

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Other Publications

Audio Engineering: Audio File Naming Standards

Audio Engineering | Audio File Naming Standards

Download Audio File Naming Standards in PDF format.

Learn more about unfoldingWord Audio Engineering.

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Audio Engineering: Audio File Quality Standards

Audio Engineering | Audio File Quality Standards

Download Audio File Quality Standards in PDF format.

Learn more to learn more about unfoldingWord Audio Engineering.

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CCBT: Getting Started

CCBT: Getting Started

Download the Church-Centric Bible Translation: Getting Started document in PDF format.

Click here to learn more about getting started with Church-Centric Bible Translation.

Do you want your church to grow and mature but you realize that they need Biblical content in their language if they are going to understand God’s Word better? Do you wonder how to get started, how to get trained, and how to make a good translation? If so, this document is for you!

We make it our goal to equip people like you to translate the Bible and other biblical content from a language you know into your own language. We have trained and helped translators in hundreds of translation projects. We are creating translation training materials, translation helps, source texts, and computer programs that will help you in this process.

This document is a quick guide to help you know how to start on your translation project and continue it on to completion. We recommend you read all the way through this document, ignoring the links, to get an overview of the process, then come back later to follow the links as needed for more detail. For a more thorough treatment of these subjects, please read translationAcademy.

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Free Translate 2.0 International Public License

Free Translate License

Download the Free Translate 2.0 International Public License.

unfoldingWord is not a law firm and does not provide legal services or legal advice. Distribution of this public license does not create a lawyer-client or other relationship. unfoldingWord makes this license and related information available on an “as-is” basis. unfoldingWord gives no warranties regarding this license, any material licensed under its terms and conditions, or any related information. unfoldingWord disclaims all liability for damages resulting from its use to the fullest extent possible.


Licensed Material means the literary work to which the Licensor applied this Public License.

Licensor means the individual(s) or entity(ies) granting rights under this Public License.

Licensed Rights means the rights granted to You subject to the terms and conditions of this Public License.

You means any individual or entity now and in the future who exercises the rights granted under this Public License. Your has a corresponding meaning.

Licensor grants you the right to:

  • Translate — Subject to the terms and conditions of this Public License, Licensor hereby grants You a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, non-sublicensable, irrevocable license to Translate the Licensed Material, in whole or in part into any different language(s).

Under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must attribute the source of the translation in a reasonable and noticeable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.


  1. Perpetual. Licensor may not revoke this license as long as you comply with the license terms and conditions.
  2. Copyright of Translated Material. The Licensor grants You ownership of all copyright and similar rights in your translations from the Licensed Material, including the right to license your translated works.
  3. No endorsement. Nothing in this Public License constitutes or may be construed as permission to assert or imply that You are, or that Your use of the Licensed Material is connected with, sponsored, endorsed, or granted official status by, the Licensor.
  4. No trademarks. Licensor’s trademarks and Licensed Material’s branding are not licensed under this Public License.
  5. No royalties. To the fullest extent permitted by law and equity, Licensor waives any right to collect royalties from You for the exercise of the Licensed Rights, whether directly or through a collecting society under any voluntary or waivable statutory or compulsory licensing scheme.
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Language Identification

Language Identification

Language Identification, or "Using IETF Language Subtags to identify every language, dialect, and variant in the entire world."

Languages in the unfoldingWord digital publishing system are identified using Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) language tags. IETF tags provide an abbreviated language code that uses modern computing standards and is backward compatible with ISO 639 language codes but provides a standardized means of identifying additional information, including language variants and scripts.

In the IETF standard, macro languages are identified using two-letter codes (from ISO 639-1) while all other languages use the three-letter "Ethnologue code" (ISO 639-3) where this code exists. The language tags are comprised of subtags separated by hyphens. The IETF standard also provides a flexible means of adding new language variants, through the use of "-x" to indicate a private use tag (not in the official registry).

These are examples of language tags:

  • hi: Hindi language
  • aaa: Ghotuo language
  • en-AU: English language, as written and spoken in Australia
  • az-Latn-IR: Azeri language, written in the Latin script, as used in Iran
  • ttt-x-ismai: Tat language, Ismaili variant (for private use only)

IETF language tags are used in many protocols, including HTTP (the browser can indicate the user's language preference to the server, the server can indicate to the browser the language and script in which the content is served) and XML (through the xml:lang attribute).

More information:

Software libraries:

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Stories From the Field

  • Iran: Bibles in every language

    • January 04, 2022

    222 Ministries President Lazarus Yeghnazar dreams of the day when his country, Iran, will have Bibles in every local language. Using unfoldingWord's translation tools and Biblica's newly-revised Farsi...

  • A Scrap of Paper that Changed a Life

    • December 28, 2021

    It was 2006. A young Islamic man, walking home in Khartoum, Sudan, found a scrap of paper that changed his life and began his journey to the forefront of Church-Centric Bible Translation. His name is ...

  • Zafar's Favorite Tool

    • December 28, 2021

    This year, unfoldingWord completed the initial training of the Russian Gateway Language team. All 50 Open Bible Stories and nine Scripture Book Packages are now available in Russian, serving as the Ga...

  • Seizing the moment in Sudan

    • November 01, 2021

    Circling the Kaaba with thousands of fellow Muslims during the Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca), a young Sudanese man comes to a moment of crisis.  He realizes that fellow believers from all over the...

  • Open Bible Stories open doors for Gospel in Venezuela

      For Piaroa Christians like Alejandra, having unfoldingWord’s Open Bible Stories translated from Spanish into her heart language means more than nice bedtime stories for her kids. It means giving them ...

    • Bible Without a Village

      • December 27, 2021

      On December 4, our Spanish Gateway Language partners held their first translation workshop with Portuguese translators. Portuguese is the Gateway to 530 people groups representing about 50 million peo...

    • Ruska Roma celebrate first Scripture in their language

      • September 20, 2021

      EASTERN UKRAINE — To Samuel Kim, holding a Ruska Roma translation of 3 John means more than a chance to celebrate with his Roma friends. It’s the answer to 10 years of prayer.  In April, a team of fou...