Tuesday, November 1, 2016

61 Percent!

I am happy to report that we have now drafted 61 percent of the verses in the Enga New Testament! At our current pace, it is my sincere prayer that we will be able to finish drafting the New Testament by 2020. Of course much work remains after drafting including various checks, audio recording and printing. But 61 percent is worth celebrating!

Just ten days after retuning to Papua New Guinea from furlough in July, the translation team and I (Adam) completed a four-week course on the book of Hebrews. We quickly discovered just how much more difficult Hebrews was than the gospels. Gone were the easy translations like ‘Jesus went to Galilee and taught the people’. Now we were facing difficult metaphors, strange vocabulary, complex sentence and paragraph structures, and obscure references to Old Testament practices seemingly in every verse (see below for an example).

The translation team in Ukarumpa for the Hebrews course
After completing our draft of Hebrews, we focused on completing our consultant check of the book of Luke. This first required a final read through of the book by the translation team to check for naturalness—in other words making sure that the translation is clear and sounds like how Enga people speak. Then we brought two Enga speakers, who had not been involved in drafting, to Ukarumpa to check the book with a consultant, who checks for accuracy and understanding by using a back-translation of the Enga text into English.

Benjamin, the man who has donated a portion of his land for us to build our house, and a pastor named Eki Napru came for the check, which involved reading through the text again verse-by-verse in Enga and then answering questions from the consultant in Tok Pisin. Although the consultant found room for improvements here and there, he was very pleased with the quality of the translation. The final step is to record the translation, which we hope to do some time after the New Year. Praise the Lord for enabling our work to this point!

A Difficult Translation
Almost every verse in the book of Hebrews was difficult to translate. But 12:18-21 was especially difficult. We ended up having to completely restructure the verses in chronological order so that the passage flowed well and made sense in Enga. We also had to state explicitly some of the information that is implied in the source text. Below is the draft of our translation. Compare it to an English translation of the same passage.

Before, when the Israel native people went and were at the Sinai Mountain, God said to them, “If a person, cow, goat, or anything comes very close to this mountain, hit and kill it with stones.” When they heard that, they died with fear (i.e. ‘were very afraid’). Then in the midst of the mountain becoming dark and quaking, and flames of fire going about, and a great wind blowing, and lightning striking, and thunder clapping, God spoke words that they heard. After hearing, they said to Moses, “Tell God not to speak words to us like that.” Then Moses, having seen all the frightful things that were happening, said, “Great fear is making me tremble.” That is what happened, but now the people who are going with the purpose of going to where God is, need not fear as those people feared as they were going close to Sinai Mountain.

In the English-speaking world, there is endless debate about whether Bible translations should be literal (like the ESV) or dynamic (like the NLT). We are lucky that we even have the choice between the two in English! Languages like Enga are so different from the Greek and Hebrew source texts that a literal translation is virtually impossible. The translation must be dynamic in order to make any sense in Enga. The end result is a translation that is very clear to Enga speakers, but the process involves a great deal of effort. It was so difficult to take the meaning from the source text and communicate that same meaning in Enga that on a couple of occasions it took us two hours to translate just one verse!
Bella taking first place at Sports Day
Sports Day
Every year the primary school has a Sports Day, where all the students complete in events. Jacob, Bella, and Asher all received ribbons, but Bella truly excelled, taking first place in three individual events: sprints, long jump, and sack race. She also finished second in the long distance run. Congratulations Bella!