Worldview Complicates Translation [Excerpts]
It’s not just language, but worldview, that can complicate Bible translation.
[Missionaries] Gordie and Nancy Hunt recently shared some of the difficulties they’ve encountered as they worked through 2 Corinthians before beginning to translate the book for the Manjui people of Paraguay.
In 2 Corinthians:1:3-6, Paul refers to God comforting us and us comforting others because of what God does for us. “In the Manjui worldview before becoming believers, their idea was, I am the center of my world,” the Hunts wrote. “Why would I want to help anyone else to be happy, to feel good, when it’s all about me? The idea of caring for and of helping another brother is foreign.”
In 2 Corinthians:2:14-16, Paul calls the message of the Gospel a “fragrance,” a sweet smell that spreads throughout the world. He then calls the believers an “aroma.” That’s going to tough to convey clearly to the Manjuis, the couple wrote.
In 2 Corinthians:3:2-3, Paul refers to the Corinthian believers as a “letter of recommendation.” Understanding that is not difficult for a Westerner. “But what about a people who recently come out from living in the jungle and still hunt for deer and pig, and had never even seen paper until we came along,” wrote Gordie and Nancy. “This one is going to take a bit of explaining."
Paul also says in verse 3 that this letter was written in their hearts. “Again, we have a difficulty here because the Manjuis only see their heart as a blood pump,” the Hunts wrote. They’ll understand if the translation uses their term for “insides,” since that’s where the Manjuis feel emotions reside. But saying something was written there “is going to take quite a bit of explanation. I can’t wait to sit down with my translation helper on this one.”