Translating the Gospel of John

Kevin & Gertrude
Kevin & Gertrude on the Beach

Since we returned to Papua New Guinea (PNG) in July I have been working closely with the Notsi translation team (Wesley, Matthew, Shirley, Paul Shaw and Katu) on a draft of the Gospel of John in Kavieng. Katu’s wife had just had another baby so he was not able to join us except for village checking. It was so exciting to be with most of the team working together on the Scriptures. As the Notsi translation advisor, I lead the team in a read through of the entire Gospel in Notsi–checking for accuracy and clarity of the translation. After making the corrections and edits, we developed an English translation based on the Notsi text. I was very encouraged to hear them engage with the text to determine the best way to translate it. Praise God! We were able to complete the first advisory checking process in October 2012 in Kavieng.

In December we returned to the village and began the process called “Village Checking.” Each translator finds a group of people who have not been involved with the translation. Then the translators will read assigned chapters of the Gospel with the group and ask questions to make sure that the readers understand the passage and that it sounds natural in Notsi.

One day I saw a group of young men sitting under a tree with Katu, near our house, so I went over to visit with them—among them a primary school teacher, a health officer, and two farmers. I asked if they would like to help Katu and I with checking the Notsi translation. We then spent the next three hours reading through John 3, the story of Nicodemus. These men were very eager to read the passage–pointing out corrections needed in the translation. They were full of their own questions related to the biblical text as well. We checked most of the chapter that day and they returned the next day to finish it.

George and Debbie Bender returned to the USA and we returned to Kavieng manage the guesthouse again. We miss being in the village but thankfully we found a retired lawyer and a businessman that live close by. Wesley, the translator from Libba Village came to town that day and the two of us enlisted their help with village checking. They are willing to help on a regular basis.

Please pray that we will be able to get all the checking of John’s Gospel done by April and those helping will be especially blessed by reading God’s Word in their own language. Our goal is to have the Gospel of John ready for the final consultant check in September and published by the end of the year. —Kevin