Of Gentile centurions and dirty animals: Lost (and found) in translation, #15; Ariela & Daniel’s school play, “Annie”

BIBLE TRANSLATION UPDATE: Thank you for faithfully praying for us and generously giving financially to support our Bible translation work for Roma in Croatia, Serbia, and beyond.

We’re excited that over the next few days the Arli language team will be making an audio recording of the Gospel of Mark which we recently finished translating. As exciting as it is to see new books of the Bible in text form on the Internet or in print, it is almost more exciting to hear them in an audio recording since some Roma do not read and most of them will probably encounter God’s word in audio format, rather than as text, at least initially. (The picture above is when the Arli team recorded the Gospel of Luke in 2020.)

LOST (AND FOUND) IN TRANSLATION, INSTALLMENT #15: We continue to progress in translating the Acts of the Apostles into the Arli, Gurbet, and Chergash languages, most recently in chapters 10-12. Acts chapter 10 has several translation challenges, especially for unchurched Roma, unfamiliar with the Old Testament. Luke was writing to those who understood the Jewish culture, so he could leave much information implied as there was no need to mention it explicitly. Unfortunately, Roma, who do not have that background, miss much of this.

“Roman officer”, photo (c) bibleplaces.com

For example, 10:1 speaks literally of “a certain man in Caesarea by name Cornelius, a centurion.” These Roma languages do not have a word for “centurion,” so we usually translate it as “captain.” However, when we translate it that way, we risk that our Roma readers will miss a crucial factor in this story. The fact that Cornelius is a Roman and not a Jew is critical to this story since the point hangs on the fact that God is showing Peter that the Gospel is also for non-Jews, like Cornelius. To ensure that that point comes out, we adjusted their draft translation to “a certain man in Caesarea by the name of Cornelius, who was a Roman captain over 100 soldiers.”

As another example, in verse 4 where an angel appears to Cornelius in a vision, the translation draft in one of the languages said, “Your prayers and alms came to God, and he did not forget you.” However, the Greek uses wording that reminds the reader of Leviticus 2, which describes sacrifices offered to God as memorials. Interestingly, Cornelius’ vision takes place at 3 p.m., the time of the afternoon sacrifice in the temple. Cornelius was not a Jew, but he feared God, and his prayers and giving to the poor were just as precious to God as any sacrifice. So the translation is more clear now that we adjusted it to “God has accepted your prayers and your gifts to the poor as sacrifices.”

illustration of Peter’s vision in Acts 10; picture from bibleplaces.com

And when Peter sees a vision with a sheet filled with animals coming down from heaven, he says in verse 10, “I have never eaten anything unclean and pagan.” But our Roma readers, unfamiliar with the OT laws of kosher foods, will think “unclean” means dirty and will not understand the inference. We adjusted the translation drafts so they now say, “I have never eaten anything unclean which our Law forbids.”

Thank you for praying for us as we translate Acts and make every effort to ensure that these translations for Roma will be both accurate and clearly understood.

FAMILY NEWS: These weeks have been busy preparing for the play, “Annie”, at the kids’ school, Might Roots Academy (pictured above and below). Ariela was “Annie”, Daniel was the sound technician, and Pam was the vocals director. They all did a fantastic job.

We’re thankful for a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration with our kids and moms. And we are so proud of Elizabeth as she graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City with her Master of Social Work degree!

Thank you for your love for our family and your faithful prayers and support for the ministry.

Todd & Pamala

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