New prayer requests; lost (and found) in translation, installment #5: Mt 5:47, “greet your brothers”.

Last month’s visit to see Todd’s Mom to celebrate her 83rd birthday

Thank you for standing with us in prayer. Here are some fresh prayer requests and praises:

  1. Todd’s Mom (age 83), in the nursing home in Oklahoma City, is sleeping more and eating less than she has which shows she is in decline. Please pray for comfort for her. I’ll be visiting her this weekend. Praise God for answering prayer that she was approved for Medicaid which will help tremendously with the cost of her nursing home stay. Thank you for praying for that!
  2. Thank you for praying for the Ludari Bible translators. They have been healthy lately and we have had fruitful sessions checking the spelling, grammar and understandability of the Gospel of Luke and 50 Bible stories in that language. Please pray we can finish this ASAP and be able to record and print by the deadline at the end of this month.
  3. Thank you for praying for our support. We have one new supporter, a supporter increased their support, and after looking over our 2021 expenses, we have decided to lower our monthly budget. So instead of needing $1,200 per month in monthly pledges, we currently need $690 per month. Please pray for the Lord to meet that monthly pledge need.
  4. We are putting together our speaking schedule for 2022. Pray for the Lord’s will in speaking engagements at churches and small groups who will pray for and support the work of Bible translation for Roma.
  5. I, Todd, was asked to lead a new men’s group at our home church. Pray for the Lord to put together his choice of four or five men for this group, and for guidance in choosing a topic or book of the Bible to study.
  6. We need more Bible translators for the Gurbet and Chergash languages. Pray for those conducting interviews for hiring translators and for the Lord’s perfect choice of translators to have a full team of three for each language.
  7. Thank you for praying for Matthew. He found a job in Atlanta as a UX designer and begins in a couple weeks!
Spell checking in Luke and 50 chronological Bible stories in the Ludari language via Zoom
Bedouin men greeting each other (photo (c)

When the Roma Bible translators make their first draft translations, they translate from Croatian, Serbian and/or English. The English resources are great to have and often shed light on verses and give wonderful suggestions of how they can be translated. But there are a few times when the English does more harm than good, for example, when the Roma culture is closer to the original biblical culture than to our Western, English-speaking culture.

For example, Matthew 5:47 says, “And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (ESV) Now, in our American culture we do not put a lot of emphasis on greeting others. We tend to think of it as “saying hello” which is a quick and informal thing we do in order to be polite.

Bedouin men greeting each other (photo (c)

But in the biblical culture, and today in the Croatian, Serbian and Roma cultures, greetings are much more important. It is imperative to stop and talk with friends and find out how they are doing. In fact, in the biblical culture, these greetings could often take quite a long time, which is why Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 10:4, “Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road.” (ESV) He was sending them on an urgent mission and did not want them to lose time in long, drawn-out greetings.

In order to make Matthew 5:47 easier to understand in the English-speaking, Western world, the New Living Translation, and a Croatian translation which follows it, has, “If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.” Being “kind to your friends” is, in general, what Jesus is emphasizing. However, it is not necessary to express it that way in the Roma languages. It is better to stick closer to the Greek and have “greet” since by definition that means that you are being kind and giving proper respect to your friends by taking the time to greet them and visit with them.

This is one case where sticking closer to the Greek, and not following an easier-to-understand English or Croatian translation, is a good idea.

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