Consultant checking of translated Scriptures can be tedious work and very exhausting as we look at every word, every phrase and every sentence of every verse, to make sure that it accurately communicates what was written down by the first biblical authors. For the past three months, I have been checking various books of the Bible for different language groups. It is exhausting, but also very rewarding.
There are also times when we laugh and when we cry as the message does not communicate, but something else that we did not intend to happen does happen. A colleague of mine has also just finished a long period of checking a number of New Testament books for her language group. I hope you enjoy reading the following story.
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“Is he crying?” I thought to myself as I looked up from writing corrections on our draft of the Gospel of Mark. I confirmed that the man was indeed crying and then the man beside him began crying and wiping his eyes and several of the other guys began wiping their eyes. By that time, the first man was in the loud crying stage. He came to me, shook hands for a long time and kept saying over and over, “It’s true! It’s true!”
I was so stunned by his response that it took me a few seconds to realize that the verse that had hit him so hard was Mark 13:31, which in Apal translation says, “‘The ground and sky will disappear,’ he said. ‘Given that [but],’ he said. ‘My talk will not disappear,’ he said.” I assured him that we were working on something of eternal value. Everything else won’t last, but God’s Word will never disappear.
Looking at his response, my guess is that he “got it” much better than I did. This world will end, but God’s Word will never end. Seeing his positive response to God’s Word in his own language gave me hope and the motivation needed to keep pressing on through the checking of the Gospel of John. Sometimes I despaired of the translation ever being accurate enough and communicating clearly enough to make it worth printing.
Even after correcting it with a consultant, we were reading through John and I realized that John 11:25 just wouldn’t work because it sounded like the believers who died would stay happily dead forever. To live eternally is translated as “being good only like that and only like that” and when that was combined with being dead – they were just “good and dead,” i.e., really dead. Thankfully, that error was relatively easy to correct by adding in that they would rise again and then live eternally.
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In addition to numerous other bloopers, two of my blooper “albatrosses” resurfaced again after the consultant had already checked and approved the verses. We had been checking the placement of the sign above Jesus’ head on the cross and I had been a bit dubious when they had the piece of paper sitting on top of “Jesus” head for a few seconds. But they had quickly corrected it when I reread the passage. They knew it wasn’t right to put it on top of Jesus’ head.
I sighed with relief, but something still kept bugging me about it so after the consultant left, I read them the translation of the parallel verse in Mark and one man said, “That is the way it should be in John. We are missing the piece of wood sticking up behind Jesus’ head in the John translation. Make it like that!” So, we revised it and then I asked them one last time about where the angels had sat in the empty tomb. I knew that we had corrected it so that the angels were no longer sitting on Jesus’ dead body, but there was still something about it that didn’t seem quite right, but I didn’t know what it was.
Finally, one of the guys said, “Well, this says that they sat on the empty spot where Jesus himself had put his own head and the empty spot where Jesus himself had put his own feet. Did Jesus lie down there on his own after he was dead?” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The miracle of the resurrection is one thing, but did we really want the miracle of a dead man putting himself in place in his own tomb? So, that was quickly revised by simply changing a few endings and then putting third person plural endings on the verbs.
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Then there is Mark 10:27 in Apal which says, “They did it and Jesus was seeing them and said. ‘Men see and whatever whatever [all kinds of things] are habitually being like a mountain,’ he said. ‘Given that [but], God sees and whatever whatever [all kinds of things] are not habitually being like a mountain,’ he said. That verse has been the one keeping us going. The checking that needed to be done seemed like a mountain, but now the mountain is gone.
Thank you for praying with us through the longs months of checking. As a result, we were able to check 35% of the NT and now 80% of the Apal NT has been consultant checked. Praise God with me.