Galina, a member of IBT’s Khakas Bible translation and audio recording team began her story: “In the past, this is how the Khakas funerals looked. The body of the deceased relative stayed at home, and his relatives called for a khaidzhi (singer of heroic ballads). The khaidzhi accompanied himself on a seven-stringed national musical instrument, called the chatkhan. This instrument is a matter of pride for the Khakas because we are the only Asian people who managed to preserve this instrument through the ages, though in antiquity it had been common for all Asians. So the khaidzhi sat down at the head of the deceased and started to sing heroic ballads to him or her in order to help the soul as it transitioned to the other world. People gathered around and listened attentively. When they heard something funny, everybody laughed; when they heard tragic episodes, they showed sympathy for the heroes of the ballad; in any case, the audience would always comment on the narrative in some way. Nobody was supposed to show grief and shed tears at the funeral because the departed was “returning to his true home...”
When a guest comes into a Kurdish home, the hosts normally say, “You have come to step on my head.” Such were the words of our Kurdish translator in the Moscow IBT office when we asked him about the Kurdish national tradition of receiving guests. To say that we were shocked is an understatement! The similar idiom in Russian would mean that we are extremely bothered with a person, annoyed by his behavior, and his actions cause terrible problems for us. Those who heard the Kurdish translator exchanged glances: what could he possibly mean?...
“The Gospel of Luke has been translated into the Chukchi language. The translation team includes experts and native speakers from the indigenous people group. Their purpose is to make sure that the translation is clear and intelligible to readers, and what is even more important, that the proper meaning, power, and spirit is conveyed by the text.”
These words were spoken on the local TV newsbroadcast in Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka. But these simple words of a short TV report do not give us the full picture of what strenuous creative efforts and what intellectual agony the task demanded. It does not show how many months and years first the translation and then the revision of a relatively small text of the Gospel of Luke actually required.
“We were fortunate to visit the very spot where several thousand years ago Abraham may have stood looking at the place that God chose for him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac,” one of the participants of the study tour to Israel exclaimed emotionally. The trip was specially organized for IBT’s Bible translators from the Caucasus by the Jerusalem Center for Bible Translators. Each of these translators already had serious experience in Bible translation work. Some of them had translated quite a few books of the Bible, to say nothing of the annual training seminars, workshops, and tons of literature they read… All of that was an important school indeed. But only a school, whereas the study trip to Israel was described by one of the participants as “a university for Bible translators!”
In Altai historical epics, we frequently come across the following plot: people who have been enslaved and are being driven into a foreign land hang a cradle with a baby on a tree branch in the hope that someone will find and raise their child. Does this sound similar to a well-known story from the Bible?