Not only is the Bible the top-selling and most-shoplifted book in history, it also exists in the most languages. With the entire Bible existing in 670 languages, the New Testament in 1,521 languages, and portions of the Bible existing in another 1,121 languages, the total exceeds 3,000. This makes the Bible the most-translated book on the planet. For that matter, it is the most-translated book beyond earth, as well. Among those 3,000-plus languages is Klingon.
The work to convert the words of scripture into the Star Trek language began in the early 1990’s. The language itself is not much older than its use in biblical studies.
The first time Klingonese was heard on our planet was in the movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture. One of the initial developers of the alien dialect were none other than James Doohan, who played the Enterprise‘s chief engineer, Montgomery Scott. The producers of Star Trek then tasked Marc Okrand to develop the language more fully for the 1984 film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. His work was released in The Klingon Dictionary the following year.
Since then, earthling adherents to learning the alien language have become so numerous that it has spilled outside of the Star Trek world, including ‘u’, an opera written and performed entirely in Klingonese, and a stage production of “A Christmas Carol” in which all but the narration is performed in the alien tongue. It has even been used in official government communication.
Now translators of the Bible are boldly taking the word of God where no scripture has gone before. Beginning with a few popular passages and expanding into entire books, the Bible has been largely written in the tongue of the honor-bound warrior race.
It wasn’t long before translators began to run into problems, however. There is no Klingon word for God. This can be a bit of an issue in a book where His name appears 4,473 times. To get around that obstacle, translators substituted the word ”joH’a,” Klingon for ”Great Lord.”
The result of their labors can be seen in John 3:16: ”For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Klingon version may not sound as poetic to our ears, but its truth should still impact our friends on the planet Qo’noS: “toH qo’ muSHa’pu’qu’mo’ joH’a’, wa’ puqloDDaj nobpu’ ghaH ‘ej ghaHbaq Harchugh vay’, vaj not Hegh ghaH, ‘ach yIn jub ghajbeh ghaH.”
The Klingon Bible Translation Project is sponsored by the Klingon Language Institute in Flourtown, Pennsylvania. The finished product will be known as the Klingon Authorized Version.
The Bible Tool is one example of the free online resources for beginning your Klingon Bible studies. Choose a Bible verse and select Klingon as your language of preference. With practice, the next time you encounter a fearsome visitor from Qo’nos, instead of running for your life, you can invite him to church.