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July 21, 2013

What have you been doing with your summer? Even though it’s not summer in Zambia, we’ve been pretty busy with “this-and-that” kinds of things.

  • Chris, the translators, and our main reviewer spent a week at a workshop in Lusaka. This workshop was for all the translation projects in Zambia and Zimbabwe – 7 projects in all. Chris did a lot of teaching throughout the week, on such various topics as: Greek New Testament manuscripts, the historical background of OT prophets, the form and structure of the book of Hebrews, and practical application of the principles of Dynamic Equivalence in Bible Translation. It was also great fun to hear a Bantu linguist describe the complex Bantu noun-class system (like “gender” in Indo-European languages, only x18) to a group of native Bantu-speakers, and explain how it relates to spelling issues in their languages. It was a busy week!
  • We have also assembled packets for our reviewers. Drafts of Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, Hebrews, First and Second Peter, and Jude are ready for the input of the wider Nsenga community. We really look forward to the feedback that these reviewers give us, and always find ways to make the translation better.
  • Chris has finished his exegetical check of First Corinthians. Titus and James have been drafted (but not yet checked), and John’s Gospel is still underway.
  • One big project we have in front of us is the harmonization of our Gospel books. Many passages in the Gospels – especially Matthew, Mark, and Luke – are very similar, some even identical. The idea of “Gospel harmony” is to make sure that the same Greek words are translated in the same way in parallel passages, but that the differences between the different books is also preserved. For example, compare Matthew 12:13, Mark 3:5, and Luke 6:10. Essentially the same story is being told, but Mark states that Jesus was angry and sad; Luke includes the word “all,” and at the end of the story Matthew says that the healed hand was “healthy like the other one.” Keep the same things the same, but also preserve the differences.
  • Since Nsenga has very rarely been written down, and never in an “official” way, we are still struggling with spelling issues, especially word-breaks. Nsenga nouns and verbs tend to have a lot of prefixes and suffixes – or are they really more like “helping words”? In English we have a pretty good “sense” that the ‘-ed’ at the end of ‘helped’ is just a past-tense marker, and not a separate word. Similarly, we “know” that ‘was’ in the phrase ‘was helping’ is spelled as a separate word – but on what basis? Grammatically, it does almost the same thing that the ‘-ed’ did on ‘helped’ (showed tense, and subject-agreement). In Nsenga we are having similar struggles as we standardize spelling for a previously-unwritten language.
  • Father Tembo (the committee chairman and a translator) and Chris were recently able to meet with an influential member of the Nsenga community who lives in Lusaka, and runs one of the biggest and most-recognizable businesses in the country. In addition to a generous pledge of support for the project, he has also made a plan to organize other Lusaka-area Nsenga leaders, including members of Parliament, business leaders, and the former Chief Justice, to help build local support for our project.
  • Meanwhile, Sean is really enjoying his “summer” vacation. We’re having some visitors from the States in a few weeks, and after that he’ll get to spend a whole week with his buddies in Chipata. Then, all too quickly, September will be here, and with it the first term of sixth grade.
  • Janine is also enjoying her holiday from teaching homeschool. She is working on painting our gust room, and a couple of other places in the house that need some work. She’s also getting ready to go back to the US briefly in August to spend some more time with her mom.

Everywhere we go, we keep meeting people who have seen or read or heard about the Nsenga Gospel of Mark. It’s exciting to be a part of this project, which just keeps moving forward under God’s grace to change hearts and lives for Jesus Christ by the power of the Word. Thank you for your prayers and support!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Steve Lawrenz permalink
    July 21, 2013 10:37 am

    Sunday, July 21, 2013.

    Chris and Janine,

    I just love to read your reports.

    That high flying Nsenga man who is the head of a very recognizable business in Zambia, ah, because I lived there in Zambia many years, I am curious to hear what business that is. Could you tell me?

    I find interesting your explanations about the difficulties in orthography and the ways to express the language and write it down in letters. I also enjoy hearing about other difficulties you encounter, such as harmonizing the language between the gospels where the accounts use the same Greek words.

    That workshop must have been interesting. I would have enjoyed hearing many of those lectures, but to what purpose? I am not involved in translation work. But I do find interest in the Bantu languages and in the translation process.

    Rev. Stephen J. Lawrenz, Blantyre, Malawi.

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