But they didn’t have shoelaces… (Lost and Found in Translation: Installment #11)

Roma translators for the Arli and Gurbet languages during a week of training for their classes in Mission and Bible Translation and the History of Bible Translation

TRANSLATION NEWS: Thank you for praying for us in our Bible translation work. This week we are editing the translations of the Gospel of Mark chapters 7-10 in the Arli, Chergash and Gurbet languages.

In order to help get the Bible translated for these Roma people groups even faster, we have been asked to increase our speed. Instead of translating 1,500 verses each quarter (for the combined three languages), the new goal is 1,875 verses each quarter, an increase of 25%. If we can meet that quota, the entire Bible in three languages would get done in 10 years. Please pray for me that I will be able to check 187 verses each week (the total for the three languages combined) and advise the teams in our Zoom meetings. Of course, we always want to go slowly and thoroughly enough to catch any mistakes and to do our utmost to make sure that these translations will be easily understood by future Roma readers and listeners.

picture (c) www.bibleplaces.com

Mark tends to be easier to translate than some of the other New Testament books, but of course there are many challenges as we seek to make sure that the translations will be understandable to the average, unchurched Roma. For example, put yourself in the shoes of a Roma teenager who has not grown up going to church, and ask yourself if you would understand what this statement in Mark 1:4 means: “John the Baptist … preached about a repenting baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” I think this would go right over the heads of most Roma listeners, so we sought to make the meaning more clear by changing this to “John the Baptist … preached that people should turn from their sins and come to God that he forgive them and to be baptized.”

picture (c) www.bibleplaces.com

Sometimes we have to be careful in translation that we don’t use a word for something that did not exist in the time of Jesus. For example, one of the drafts had John saying he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ “shoelaces”. The problem with that translation is that they didn’t have shoelaces in first-century Israel. They wore sandals which were tied onto the feet with leather straps, so we changed this to say he was not worthy to untie the “cords” of his sandals.

And though we don’t use many footnotes, we felt we had to add one in Mark 1:32. Mark makes a specific point to say “When night fell, when the sun set, they brought before him all the sick …” Most Roma will not get the connection, so we explained in a footnote that this was the Sabbath and these Jews did not want to break the law by bringing the sick, so they waited until nightfall which marks the beginning of a new day.

Thanks so much for praying for the Bible translation work. We are so thankful for your partnership!

Todd & Pamala

FAMILY UPDATE: We’ve enjoyed February celebrations (pictured below). Kirsten turned 19 on Valentine’s Day. Pam and I enjoyed celebrating Valentine’s Day. And Ariela and I enjoyed a fun daddy-daughter party.

Kirsten, now 19

Ariela, 11

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