During the covid-19 quarantine, it was impossible to hold in-person training seminars, so IBT’s planned seminar on translating two of the Minor Prophets was conducted as a webinar. The texts of Habakkuk and Malachi make up only a small part of the full Bible, only 7 chapters in all. Let us mentally project ourselves into this webinar. Specifically, you and I are taking part in a discussion focused on an even smaller fragment – a single Biblical verse, Malachi 2:2. We see this text through a Zoom-conference window. The selected verse is not particularly difficult exegetically. But it turns out to be quite complex in terms of different perceptions of the same concepts held by different cultures.
Here is Mal 2:2 in the Revised Standard Version: “If you will not listen, if you will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name, says the Lord of hosts, then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; indeed I have already cursed them, because you do not lay it to heart.” What is a “blessing”? And a “curse”? When using these words today...
The Evenkis are spread out over a huge part of the Siberian taiga. According to the 2010 census of Russia, the total number of ethnic Evenkis is about 38,000, but it’s very hard, if not impossible, to estimate the exact number of actual speakers of the Evenki language. Some people name Evenki as their mother tongue just because they feel a connection to it, not because they actually speak it.
At translation workshops, many translation teams gather together to work on a practical task and exchange their experience with their instructors and with one another. The entire process resembles a massive brainstorm session. The intensity of the work gives birth to new translation decisions and sometimes even to completely new approaches to translation.
There is an old Abkhaz legend about a widow. Her husband was killed, and she raised their three sons alone. When the sons grew up, the time came for them to avenge their murdered father according to their ancestral law. But who of them would become the avenger? The widow suggested casting lots to determine this. She would bake several pieces of flat bread and hide a small piece of wood in one of them.
Good Bible translation is not a simple process. Each translated text goes through at least four drafts with various checks at each stage (exegetical checking, internal reviewing, philological editing, field-testing, consultant checking, external reviewing, etc.). But even after the translation is completed and the book has been published and delivered to the region, it still needs to be somehow distributed among its potential readers, which is not an easy task either. Distributing the Bible in areas with a predominantly Muslim population may be dangerous because many people are prejudiced against the Bible and see it as a tool of westernization or russification – a real threat to their ethnic culture and to the worldview foundations of their community.