Persians were mentioned among those listed on the day of Pentecost and there has been a Christian presence throughout history.
There are at least 80 languages spoken within Iran, including some also spoken in surrounding countries. Some are spoken by millions, some by tens or hundreds of thousands, some by less.
Some have high status, some are persecuted minorities in their homeland. Many people may speak more than one language.
Scripture is available in a number of the languages of Iran contributing to a significant and growing number of Christians among some of the communities.
Languages with known published scripture are listed below:
Persian Iranian (Farsi), Standard Arabic , Southern Kurdish , Southern Azerbaijani (Iraqi Turkmen), Central Kurdish (Sorani), Bakhtiari , Gilaki , Mazandarani , South Western Turkmen , Balochi , Northern Luri (Luristani), Gorani (Hawrami dialect), Hazaragi , Dari , Northern Kurdish
Persian Iranian [pes] also known as Farsi is the official statutory language of Iran, spoken as a first language by about 50 million Iranians but there are several other languages used as regional languages and languages of education.
The interface for bible.com and the YouVersion app is available in Farsi at bible.com/fa .
ELAM ministries has published over 200 Christian books in Persian and has a page pointing to further useful sites and resources.
In 2019 the Church of England launched an official translation of the Communion service in Farsi .
A range of worship resources for English speaking churches with Farsi speakers can be found at bit.ly/persiansongs . These include songs translated from English to Farsi and from Farsi to English.
Standard Arabic [arb] is a recognised language in the constitution and used in education. Estimates suggest 1.3 million people may use it as their first languages within Iran.
There are several translations of the Bible into Modern Standard Arabic. The True Meaning translation is particularly intended to communicate well to Muslims. The New Testament in pdf format and audio recordings are available on the Prophet Stories website . Also recommended is the Sharif Bible . The Book of Life (Kitaab al-Hayaat), Today’s Arabic Version and the New Arabic Version are also good modern translations, particularly for Arabic-speaking Christians.
|Southern Kurdish [sdh] is spoken by over 3.6 million speakers. Portions of scripture were first translated at the end of the 19th century and more recently the Jesus film was made available in the Kermanshani dialect.
Southern Azerbaijani [azb], also known as Iraqi Turkmen or Azeri has about 11 million speakers in Iran (with about 3 million in Jordan, Iraq and Turkey). The Iranian Azeri Bible Version was published by Elam Ministries in 2013, containing the New Testament along with Psalms and Proverbs, and is available on Bible.com
|Central, Kurdish [ckb], is also known as Sorani. In 2014 were estimated to be over 527,000 in Iran with another 4 million in Iraq.
The New Testament and Psalms are available as audio or text from the Kitebi Piroz website and a full bible was published in 2016 available on Bible.com with print versions from BiblicaEurope.com . A Bible app was released in 2017 for Android and iphone at pertukekem.com
|Bakhtiari [bqi] has about 1.2 million speakers. The Gospel of Luke is available via Faith Comes By Hearing with text audo and video. This translation also served in the production of the Jesus Film . Both of these are available in sections on enjil-si-bakhtiari.com
|Gilaki [glk] is spoken by 2.4 million people as a first language
Gilak-media.com contains the four Gospels, Acts, Philippians and 1 Peter, along with several books from the Old Testament, in addition to both the Jesus film and the Lumo films of all four Gospels, and several Bible story videos, worship songs and radio programs, all in Gilaki. The Bible text and audio are available on the YouVersion Bible app where they can easily be viewed alongside versions in other languages. There are also facebook , Telegram and Instagram pages an iPhone and Android app and YouTube Channel on which the most popular video on the life of Joseph has been viewed in part over 400,000 times.
2.3 million people speak Mazandarani. The book of Ruth and portions of Luke are available at mazanmedia.net .The Luke portions are also available in audio and there is a translation of the film Magdalena . facebook.com/mazanmedia has over 3000 followers and there is also an Instagram page .
|South Western Turkmen [tuk]
Nearly 7 million people speak a variety of Turkmen. The South Western Turkemen spoken by about 720,000 people in Iran is influenced by Persian and is written using an Arabic script, differing from that spoken in Turkmenistan Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan which is more heavily influenced by Turkish and written using Latin script (and in Cyrillic in Turkmenistan before 1991)
turkmenhakykaty.com a contains the four gospels, acts, and some of the epistles, with the website being written in both Turkmen and Persian.
facebook.com/turkmenhakykaty currently has about 2000 followers.
The Institute for Bible Translation provides a Turkmenistan Turkmen Bible in Latin or Cyrillic script.
Worldwide almost 9 million people identify as Balochi but the language can be divided into Eastern, Westerna and Southern. About half a million Southern Balochi [bcc] speakers live in Iran with another 2.5 million in Pakistan and others across the Middle East and beyond.
Scripture resources can be found at balochimestag.com , (Prophets’ story, God’s story, and audio of the gospels, Acts, Psalms, James 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John and Jude, and in over 100 video clips at youtube.com/user/balochifilm . There is an individual Bible app in Balochi (Hodáay Pákén Ketáb) available on Google play and the Apple store . The text and audio is also available on YouVersion in both Latin script and Arabic script .
A brand new children's Bible app launched in March 2020.
|Luri, Northern [lrc] also sometimes called Luristani has nearly 1.8 million speakers. The Jesus film is available in Northern Luri. There are some recordings made by Global Recordings in the early 1970’s.
Another million people speak Southern Luri [luz] but while there are some short audio recordings from Global Recordings there are no published scriptures.
|Gurani [hac] (Hawrami dialect), has a small population compared to some of the other languages but does have a recording of the Jesus Film . There is now also an individual Bible app in Hawrami available on Google play and the Apple store as well as a website (www.hawrami.org ). Available books so far are Genesis, Exodus, Ruth, Jonah, John (both in audio and text).
|Hazaragi [haz] is spoken by over 2.2 million speakers. These are mainly in Afghanistan but there were an estimated 370,000 speakers in Iran. The gospel of Luke is available on lightforhazaras.com along with some worship songs and other videos.
|Dari, also known as Afghan Persian or Eastern Farsi, is spoken by about 9 million people around the world including 370,000 in Iran.
The full Bible is available in Dari with an online version, plus apps and print copies of resources available via afghanbibles.org . The site also contains links to Dari Christian radio and TV. The Today’s Dari Version Bible is also available on the YouVersion Bible app and via Bible.is . Video resources on satafghan.org include the Jesus Film and Magdalena Film along with God’s Story and several short films.
Northern Kurdish [kmr] has 465,000 speakers in Iran. There are a number of distinct varieties including Kurmanji Kurdish is a also spoken in parts of northern Syria, and much of eastern Turkey.
Khorasani Kumanji is another form of Northern Kurdish in which a New Testament was published in 1894 but does not appear to be online.