(Deb and Jonah checking Psalms)
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8 NRSV)
Did you know that in Psalm 40:8, the word translated as ‘heart’ in English is actually ‘bowels’ in the Hebrew language? We have a word for ‘bowels’ in English, we know what it means, but it seems an inappropriate and gross image to English speakers, and not something we want associated with delighting in God’s law. Bible translators have to make these kinds of choices all the time.
Our new roles with SIL Australia (SILA) mean we get to have some really great conversations about these things! Here’s a great example of a recent conversation that actually happened over an SILA morning tea, which illustrates the challenges and joys that we face as we walk with others in the task of Bible translation.
Debbie – ‘Jonah says we can’t use the word mouth in his Bible translation.’
Kelvin – ‘Don’t you have a word for mouth in your language, Jonah?’
Jonah – ‘Yes, we have a word for it, but it is considered very rude.’
K – ‘What word do you use for the body part you speak with?’
J – ‘We can say lips for talking.’
K – ‘Can I ask why the word mouth is considered rude in your culture?’
J – ‘We never talk about mouth or eating with the mouth. It is disgusting to us.’
Ellie – ‘What passage are you working on at the moment?’
J – ‘We are working on translating the Psalms into my local language from the Solomons.’
D – ‘Yes, we’re trying to translate the verse from Psalm 81, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.”’
E – ‘Oh, so lips won’t really work there because it’s not about speaking.’
Can you see how fun Bible translation is? Bible translation is a collaborative process that prioritizes faithfulness to the original text’s meaning and aims to be understandable, readable, and relevant in the target language. The conversation continued…
D – ‘So because we can’t say mouth for the verse, we’re thinking about using basket instead.’
J – ‘Yes in my culture we always give food and good things in baskets. And to fill someone’s basket means to bless them.’
E – ‘Sounds like a reasonable substitution to me! It is poetry after all, so the imagery can be made culturally relevant.’
D – ‘That’s what we were thinking too!’
K – ‘This just goes to show how complex Bible translation is! Some people think it’s just exchanging one word for another, but we know it’s so much more complex. There’s so much culture involved too!’
Graham – ‘I love my job!’
D – ‘Tell me about it!’
What a great example of teamwork! Jonah and Debbie are working out how to best convey the meaning of God’s Word faithfully and appropriately into Jonah’s heart language. What a blessing to have had Jonah at Kangaroo Ground where he can collaborate with SILA consultants like Debbie! We have loved discussing how Jonah’s Psalms translation and checking is going. We are so thankful for how God raises up people like Jonah to translate His Word into the heart language of his community from the Solomon Islands. And we are thankful for people like Debbie who work closely with Jonah to support him in his work.
We need partners like you so we can encourage people like Debbie and Jonah as they faithfully translate the Bible.
When you partner with us, you help us equip more people to faithfully translate God’s Word into the heart languages of those who do not yet have the Scriptures. You help us to encourage those who have answered God’s call to work crossculturally in a variety of roles for the sake of the Gospel. You help people like Jonah communicate to his family, friends and community that God speaks their language and wants to be known by them through His Word.
You can make a difference in equipping and encouraging others in the task of Bible translation and other language development work here in Kangaroo Ground and throughout the World.
You can share the blessings God has given you by helping us open our baskets so that God can fill them with good things that we can share with our students, colleagues and partner organizations. See the information in the box below to partner with us today.
We’re giving thanks for:
- Graham’s meetings in Indonesia in April were very encouraging and productive.
- Great relationship building for Graham with Wycliffe colleagues, as well as other local leaders.
- A good day of sharing at CrossCulture church in Melbourne about Bible translation last Sunday.
- A marvelous church community and great small group which is becoming a real home for us.
- Great support and encouragement from the community here on the Wycliffe-SIL campus.
- Generous response to our financial needs as we have shared.
And we’re praying for:
- SILA’s AGM and Board Meetings this week (May 4-5). Be praying as Graham prepares his report, and shares with the boards (SILA and Wycliffe Australia) and AGM. This is a very busy week.
- Graham is travelling again (May 7-17) to Malaysia for a conference on the implications of multilingualism for language development and Bible translation. Pray for good travel, great connections, and insight into the ways that SILA can respond to the challenge of multilingualism for our work and students.
- Ellie’s health. She is now seeing a new asthma specialist, and has had some good periods of health lately (5 days in a row!), but still has days of struggle. Please be praying for Ellie’s health while Graham is away.
- Continued opportunities and connections for further support raising. Our deficit remains quite significant.
Would you like to support us? Click here to contribute:
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Or donate through any Wycliffe agency worldwide—just include a note that it is for us, Acc. No. 281522
Or donate by cheque in the USA: Wycliffe Bible Translators P.O. Box 628200. Orlando, FL 32862; Acc. no. 281522