Posts Tagged ‘Old Testament’

Photo credit: Heather Pubols

Photo credit: Heather Pubols


By Elyse Patten

In southwest Ethiopia, a rough road carrying more pedestrians and cattle than vehicles runs past this dry landscape with its round houses. When these children’s parents were their age, no books had been written in their language –Guji-Oromo. Today, Guji speakers have a translation of the New Testament, literacy primers, and some health and cultural materials all in their own language. And a translation of the Old Testament is in progress! Thanks to the tireless work of educators and literacy specialists, children like these will be among the first in Ethiopia to have the opportunity to learn to read their language at a young age. You can imagine the implications of such opportunities for the nation of Ethiopia.

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Kaiwa BibleThis is Pastor Dorival and his wife, Estela. They are dedicated members of the Bible translation project for the Kaiwá people in Brazil. Do you remember the Kaiwá people? We recently shared a story about them finally receiving the Old Testament in their language after many years of work. Well, now the translation team is going back to revise the New Testament, which was published almost thirty years ago. Once they are finished, they will publish the entire Bible as one grand book! Pray for the Kaiwá people and the translation project that is so important to so many in Brazil.

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Photo by John Shuler

The Murle people live in one of the more remote areas of South Sudan, in the eastern part of the Jonglei state, close to the Ethiopian border. Conflict between subversive groups and the country’s army has destabilized the Murle area, displacing thousands.

Most of the Murle are pastoralists, who move often to find water and grass for their cattle. Recently a group of SIL* literacy workers trained some Murle teachers to conduct literacy classes in cattle camps. The aim was for the new teachers to live and move with the group, conducting classes when people had fewer chores or activities.

Two SIL workers and a man who had been on the Murle New Testament translation team conducted teacher training sessions for thirteen Murle men. Many of the attendees had their New Testament copies, which they used and read fluently during morning devotions. They also shared songs and sang prayers in their own musical style. In addition to teaching literacy, some of the Murle men wanted to share the Gospel in the cattle camps. The staff demonstrated and practiced different teaching methods with the men and had them write short stories.

One morning during devotions, a Murle man named Marko glanced longingly at the Murle New Testament that lay on a table. He asked the staff where he could get a copy. “They are out of print,” one of the literacy workers replied. “Do you not have one?”

“I had one,” Marko answered. “But I lost it when we were running from the fighting.”

The literacy team gave Marko their resource copy and marveled at how much this book was like sustenance to him, perhaps even more so than the physical food he needed to live.

Marko had tasted God’s Word. He longed for the nourishment it provided in difficult circumstances. That’s why Wycliffe is committed to translating Scripture in every language and seeing it printed—and reprinted—so that people can feed on its eternal words of life.

The Murle New Testament will soon be reprinted, and many Murle people have expressed interest in a translation of the Old Testament. As we enter the critical summer months when many ministries suffer a significant drop in support, we need your help. We can’t afford to see our work slow down for people like Marko. You can help our work move forward with a gift to this year’s summer campaign. And for a limited time, your gift is matched, doubling your impact for Bible translation.

Visit http://www.wycliffe.org/summercampaign  to learn more about how you can help!

*SIL International is one of Wycliffe’s primary partners

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By Bob Creson, President/CEO

In a Biola University classroom in Southern California, something is happening that just a few years ago would have been impossible.

Professor Rick Floyd sits down at his computer and sends a Google Hangout* invitation to the Wanca Quechua translation team in Peru. With Rick in the classroom are three graduate students completing their M.A. degrees in Linguistics and Biblical Languages, and this seminar taught by Rick is the capstone course for the program. In addition to these three, several former students in various parts of the U.S. are participating through the internet as well.

Before Rick became the co-director of Biola’s Summer Institute of Linguistics program, he and his wife, Melanie, spent 26 years with the Wanca people helping them translate Scripture into their language. Now an innovative use of technology is allowing him, along with these graduate students, to contribute to the Wanca Old Testament project while simultaneously training new workers for the worldwide Bible translation ministry.

The agenda this morning is a review of Joshua chapter 6 (Joshua and the fall of Jericho). The students have carefully prepared for the session by studying a “back translation” of the chapter—a version of the text in Spanish, translated back from the Wanca version and reflecting as much Wanca grammar and vocabulary as possible. Using their knowledge of Spanish, and drawing on their studies in theology, exegesis, biblical languages, and linguistics, the students have identified spots they think might need to be better translated.Seminar students with Wanca team

A large screen in the classroom suddenly springs to life as the Wanca team responds to the Hangout invitation. Separated by more than 4000 miles, the two teams begin to interact “face to face,” with Rick facilitating the discussion. Rick conveys student questions to the Wancas and discusses with them, often in their language, the nuances of the Hebrew original and their translation. He keeps the students involved by switching back to Spanish as needed.

The Wanca translators record the revisions. When they finish the chapter, the Wancas print copies of the revised draft and read the entire chapter out loud. They discuss some questionable spots with Rick, make a few more revisions, and then sign off, promising to be back next week to work on chapter 7.

Rick says the Wancas would continue to translate whether they received any help or not, but they are very grateful for the input. The students raise pertinent questions and often bring to light issues that the translation team missed. Sometimes the conversation leads the translators to significantly tweak the direction of the translation.

And sometimes it’s the other way around—the student consulting team’s knowledge and understanding are tweaked. The students are continually coming face to face with issues raised by the nature of the target language and culture—issues that never come up in their theology and exegesis classes. As they are coached by a senior SIL translation consultant, the students are gaining eye-opening and exhilarating first-hand experience by working on a real translation project, in a seamless integration of training and recruiting!

What’s so unique about this translation program? Capturing the best of current translation strategies, it is leveraging available technology; it’s building on the work already done in the translation of the New Testament; it reflects an emerging model for translation where the goals for the program are driven by the target community and led by mother-tongue translators; it’s creatively using available personnel spread across geography and time zones—people with education and skills but no previous on-the-ground translation experience.

Cheaper, faster, better quality—that’s the kind of Old Testament the Wanca people are getting. And it’s just one example of the innovation, enthusiasm, and teamwork that is accelerating the pace of Bible translation, taking us ever closer to the day when people everywhere will be able to engage with accurate, understandable Scriptures.

*Google Hangout is an internet video chat service somewhat like Skype.



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By Matt Petersen

After twenty-six years helping to complete the Wanca Quechua New Testament in Peru, Dr. Rick Floyd and his wife, Melanie, headed back home to the United States so Rick could begin teaching linguistics at Biola University. Meanwhile, the Wanca team that had worked so hard on the translation was now ready to tackle the Old Testament!

Although they had lots of valuable experience under their belts, none of the Wanca team members possessed the linguistic training and theological expertise that Rick brought to the table. So with him far away in La Mirada, California, they needed a way to connect long-distance so he could help answer the more difficult questions and check their work for accuracy.

Skype was just the ticket.

Rick Floyd story photo















Many translation consulants now use Skype to stay connected to translation teams in other countries, but Rick may be the first to use this as a classroom teaching opportunity. He makes a point of scheduling his weekly consulting meetings with the Wanca team during class time, so his college students can apply what they’re studying to real-life situations.

During these sessions, Rick and the students review the Wanca team’s latest work, identifying any spots that seem problematic and brainstorming solutions.

“What would you do?” Rick asks the students. “How would you solve this?”

The answers are often creative and sometimes unexpected.

Rick says his class loves the real-world interaction, and four of his former students continue to attend these sessions.

It’s an exciting opportunity for everyone involved. The translators come away with great solutions to their challenges, Rick gets new energy from the class, and the students are now able to participate in a process that was once only theoretical. Everybody wins, and Bible translation moves forward. Now that’s a solution everyone can appreciate!

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By Tim Scott and Richard Gretsky

A Giant Goes Home - Ainde Translating 2Ainde Wainzo’s face was framed by grey hair and a full beard. He was diminutive in size, but a giant when it came to translation.

When at his computer, three languages shown on the screen: English, Greek, and his beloved Angaatiha. With a delighted smile or a determined brow, Ainde embraced the challenge of clarifying God’s Word so people could clearly understand it in Angaatiha, their heart language and his.


He spent over thirty years translating the Angaatiha New Testament, and his diligence paid off. In 2004, his team joyfully celebrated with the rest of their language group, located in Morobe Province, as they dedicated their completed New Testament.


In the nine years since that day, Ainde worked even harder to complete the Old Testament. Believing thatA Giant Goes Home - Ainde with Award Papua New Guineans are essential participants in the process of translating the Scriptures into their own languages, he continued to learn all he could to assist him in translation. Recently, he completed yet another course at the Ukarumpa Training Centre, where he learned to use Paratext, a tool to assist him in translation.


A Giant Goes Home - Ainde Translating 3
Then, on August 1st, suddenly Ainde died, leaving behind both a body long plagued by chronic asthma and a legacy as a gentle, patient man with a passion for translating God’s Word. He is survived by his family (wife, daughter, and two sons), colleagues, teammates, and friends. Although they miss him greatly, they are rejoicing that he is with Jesus, and that, while there, he has likely received two words of Scripture directly from their Author—“well” and “done.” No translation necessary.



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By Angela Nelson

As Román and Venancio boarded the bus to travel outside of their home state for the very first time, they wondered what was in store for them. After all, they were leaving their families in the midst of a very busy agricultural harvest schedule, not to mention their responsibilities with church and their rural community.

It wasn’t the most appealing proposition, but their translation work on the Huichol Bible was important to them. So they were willing to take a three-day bus ride and spend several weeks away from home to attend the Tabernacle and Temples of the Old Testament workshop in Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico.


Translators Hilario, Venancio, and Román

When they arrived at the linguistics and translation training center, Román and Venancio were joined by two instructors and twelve mother tongue translators from six other language groups. For the first time, they met men and women just like them—Bible translators for their own people.

The workshop focused on the Old Testament chapters describing the tabernacle and the temples of Solomon and Ezekiel (in Exodus, 1 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Ezekiel). Each day Román and Venancio took turns telling the group how they had translated the various passages. In addition, they each had to prepare and present a devotional that focused on the symbolism of an element of the tabernacle and temple. Venancio gave his devotional on the symbolism of the horns of the altar. And Román told about the meaning of the veil, with its guarding cherubim that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. He used New Testament Scriptures to show how it represents that Christ has opened access to God for us. All these experiences helped the men practice explaining and applying Scripture, something they would use at their home church and weekly Bible studies when they returned to their people.

Román explaining Ezekiel’s temple

Román explaining Ezekiel’s temple

Before they left for home, Venancio also experienced God’s provision through a tough situation. While returning from a weekend market on a local bus, his wallet was stolen. It contained two weeks’ worth of salary and his identification card.

When Chucho, Venancio’s roommate at the workshop, learned what had happened, he asked the others to come to the auditorium with an offering for Venancio at 5 p.m. He placed an empty milk carton on the front table. Sure enough, at 5 p.m., the other translators filed in and dropped their offering into the milk carton.

Chucho presented the offering to Venancio the next morning. The translators had given sacrificially—far more than he had lost! On the last day of the workshop Venancio shyly spoke his thanks. Haltingly and emotionally he told the group that when he discovered that his wallet was missing, he felt that “he had lost his life,” but their love and concern had given it back to him.

Venancio and Román returned to their village full of stories and new knowledge, ready and dedicated to continuing their precious work!

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