Not waiting to see Jesus, I hope

by bzephyr

This blog post title can be read in two completely different ways.

  1. You could read it with a hopeless and disparaging tone, and perhaps that will get me some blog readers who are curious and ready to bring me into line. As such, the part before the comma has focus and the “I hope” really has the commonly used sense of “I doubt, but for your sake it would be good if you wise up”
  2. If you want to get my real meaning, you should read it as a statement with the part before the comma only providing an adverbial restriction to the focus of the statement, “I hope.” This is true wisdom that only comes from above.

Obviously, language can sometimes be really ambiguous. And in Bible translation, often times we need to look closely at the words we use and make sure we’re conveying the right meaning and not some other meaning that can creep in either because of the way that words have multiple senses or because of some lack of understanding on our part about what the original text means.

We have an example of this with the word “hope” in 1 Timothy 1:1. Read on to get an idea of the kind of translation note I am writing these days for my teammates.  This came up last week. First a little background…

NASB reads…

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope…

The Arop translation draft reads…

Yane, Pol na koꞌuar terew soene. Yane aposel iyn Jisas Kraisꞌe. God kawpaij re o kokelek et to ke kouw et enian ono. Niy Jisas ene, et na tetꞌepna iyn atniaw yi ono ro taman yiꞌe ono, kerꞌes yia iyn akmin pene aposel ene.

Since I don’t know very much of the Arop language (I’m learning the Onnele languages), I look at the Arop back translation to see how they’ve translated this verse.

The Arop back translation in Tok Pisin reads…

Mi, Pol, i raitim dispela pas. Mi aposel bilong Jisas Krais. God ibin rausim ol samting nogut yumi bin mekim na i kisim bek yumi pinis. Dispela man Krais Jisas yumi wok long wet long lukim em hia, wantaim papa bilong en, i makim mi long stap olsem aposel.

For those of you who don’t understand the Tok Pisin back translation, you’ll need an English back translation Arop’s Tok Pisin back translation for 1 Timothy 1:1. I’ll give that to you now.

The English back translation…

I, Paul, am writing this letter. I am an apostle of Jesus Christ. God cleared away the bad things we did and received us back. This man Christ Jesus whom we are waiting to see, with his father,  chose me to be an apostle.

Opportunities for improvement…

Do you see the opportunity? Well, one easy thing is that “Father” should be capitalized. But my other note is about the part of the translation that I highlighted (see screen shot). It says something like “we are waiting to see him” to express the idea that “Jesus is our hope.” That is really not what hope is about in the New Testament context.

Here’s a translation of the note I wrote in Tok Pisin…

This part translates the words “Jesus is our hope” that is in the original text. I am debating about this kind of translation because the real important thing about the meaning of this term “hope” is that it doesn’t refer to “waiting” and “seeing.” The important thing is that Jesus has already given good and true knowledge and peace in our hearts that we will be alright in the future just as Jesus is also already alright after his death. This talk of “hope” touches on the idea that Jesus rose from the dead already, and we also will rise from the dead if we remain believers.

Collaboration: benefits of working together…

When the Arop translators read this note, I think they will readily agree that this is an opportunity to improve their translations. I know they will do an excellent job of adjusting their translation to reflect the original sense of what it means that “Jesus is our hope.” It’s not that we are hoping in an unsure way that we might see Jesus (or we might not). It’s a confidence about our future because we have already know the resurrection of Jesus in his life and in our hearts.

The new collaboration features in the Paratext 7 translation software produced by United Bible Societies are really quite fantastic. They change the game for us.  Working in this new paradigm enables me to easily make these notes and share them with my team, even when we are in opposite ends of the country.

Once the Arop team edits things like this, their translation will be ready to be the immediate source text for the ten other language teams in the Aitape West Translation Project when they draft 1 Timothy later this year. This is just one benefit of working together. We catch something like this once up front, and usually, the exegesis that we put into the Arop translation readily gets preserved when the other teams adapt their translations from the Arop text.

Back to today’s work…

Okay, now I need to get back to Luke 20. I’ve been checking a chapter a day in three related Onnele translations, and the chapters are getting longer at the end of book. Pray I can keep the pace and get my notes to the team while they still have time to work on it this month.


2 Comments to “Not waiting to see Jesus, I hope”

  1. Wow. Ben. This is deep stuff to comprhend. (Could you use a darker font so it would be easier to read?)

    • Hi Aunt Hope,

      Thanks for faithfully reading our blog. We appreciate your encouragement.

      Regarding the font, thanks for you valuable feedback. We just changed our blog theme because some had asked for black type on a white background to make it easier to read. However, this font is the only free option we have.

      But here’s a trick for you: hold down Ctrl – Shift – Plus (that’s the plus sign above equals) to zoom in and make the font larger. You can zoom back out by typing Ctrl – Hyphen (that’s the dash or minus sign). Hopefully, that will make this thin font bigger and easier to read for you.

      Alternatively, if someone wants to pay $25 a year so we can use other fonts on this blog, my newly gained knowledge of typesetting principles would love to comply with Aunt Hope’s request.


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