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Book of Mormon translation in Portuguese came soon after new mission

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

The LDS temple in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When the Book of Mormon was first translated into Portuguese in 1939, there were about 200 members of the church.

Robert Walsh

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Editor's note: This is one in a series on the Book of Mormon translations and translators.

O Livro de Mormon.

It's the Book of Mormon — in Portuguese.

When the translation was published in 1939 in Brazil, there were about 200 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that country.

A mission with headquarters in Sao Paulo had been created four years earlier in 1935, and the first LDS meeting in Sao Paulo had sparse attendance: three members, two friends, and President Rulon S. Howells and his wife. The first missionary work was done in German-speaking colonies.

Even after the translation into Portuguese of the Book of Mormon and other church literature under the direction of President Howells, the church grew slowly because of World War II and the withdrawal of North American missionaries. The first translation into Portuguese was done in the United States and then sent to Brazil, according to Elder J. Roberto Viveiros, who was a church historian in Brazil and is now a missionary in the Church History Library.

In 1942, a teenager named Flavia Garcia was baptized, one of the first six members in the city of Campinas. She went on to study at Brigham Young University and marry Oscar Erbolato. They returned to Brazil, and Flavia Erbolato's last job was as the director of translation for the LDS Church in Brazil. She died in 1998 in Provo.

According to a 2001 devotional address at BYU by Mark Grover, a senior librarian, Flavia Erbolato "supervised the recent monumental task of retranslating the Book of Mormon into Portuguese." That revision was published in 1995.

In the years since the mission was created in 1935, church growth has gained momentum and spread throughout the country. According to the Deseret News' 2012 Church Almanac, as of October 2011, there are now 27 missions in Brazil, 242 stakes, five temples and two under construction and almost 1.2 million members.

E-mail: rwalsh@desnews.com

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