On November 15, 2022, the first translation of the New Testament in Romani, published in the Czech Republic, was presented in Smíchov. This was announced by the 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 Adventist church congregation in Trebechovice pod Orebem.
Three native speakers worked on the translation "O Névo Zákonos" for 12 years: 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 understood by most Romani speakers in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. About 3 percent of the population belongs to the Roma minority in the Czech Republic.
Event with Panel Discussion and Handover Ceremony
To mark the release, the publishing Adventist church congregation held a press conference with the translation team and initiators. 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 wrote in his preface.
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."
"One of the most important religious events 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,” said Pastor Mikuláš Vymetal, of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (EKBB), 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."
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 today: "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."