Every Little Word Matters in Bible Translation
"We think his suffering is a severe punishment that God did to him. Still, he carried our suffering and our spoiled heart made him like that."
-Isaiah 53:4, Nigerian language back translation into English
Every Word Matters
You know terms like "grace," "faith," and "Savior" are important in Bible translation. But what about all those little words in between? If we've got the big concepts, do we really need to worry about every word connecting them? Take for example the connector in the verse quoted above: "still." Why is it there? In English, "still" just seems like the verbal glue holding the sentences together.
But this Nigerian translation team used "still" -- in their language, bambam -- intentionally. They explained that bambam means, "still," "even so," or "even though it was like that."
"We think his suffering is a severe punishment that God did to him. Even though it was like that, he carried our suffering. Our spoiled heart made him like that."
People have misunderstood Jesus' suffering and death for centuries, as Isaiah predicted. After all, why would God let his chosen Messiah endure death on a cross? With this little word bambam, this team has set the record straight in their translation. We don't always understand God's actions, but even though it is like that, Jesus willingly accepted our "spoiled hearts" and "carried our suffering."
And what a difference that makes for all of us!
Translation of Truth
One of my favorite parts of being a Bible translation consultant is the privilege of hearing God's truth communicated through other languages. Bambam is one example of these FoundinTranslation moments that allow us to hear God's Word in a new way.
Please continue to pray for the Bible to be accessible in every language of the world, so that every person has the opportunity to hear and respond to truth in a language they can understand.