A nondenominational missionary agency devoted to the translation of the Bible for those peoples who lack it in their own native languages. Founded by William Cameron Townsend in 1934, Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) takes its name from the famous fourteenth‐century British reformer John Wycliffe, who was responsible for the first complete English translation of the Bible. Wycliffe Bible Translators was incorporated in 1942 along with its sister organization, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). Although closely aligned with WBT (members of SIL must belong to WBT and vice versa), SIL presents itself as a secular linguistics institute, thus enabling it to enter countries otherwise restricted to missionary activity. This strategy, pioneered by Townsend in Mexico in the 1930s, has engendered some controversy in missiological circles in recent years. Nevertheless WBT/SIL has long been recognized as the world's largest organization for the translation of the scriptures, with more than six thousand members currently working with more that 850 different languages in fifty countries.
William H. Barnes