By Chris Urton
It was another cool August morning in Ukarumpa. We sat at the dining table checking the book of Hebrews in the Tay language. We had already completed the checking of the books of Jude and Philemon. Steve Hayward has been working diligently on the Tay New Testament, attempting to finish it and have it published in 2013.
Jepiri and Kilion sat with Steve and me answering all of the questions that I had for them about the translation as we went through it verse by verse. When we came to Hebrews 9:4, I asked them “What was in the ark of the covenant?”
Kilion responded correctly that the gold jar of manna was in there. He also understood that the 2 stone tablets of the law were in there. Then he told me that Aaron’s offspring were in the ark! I asked him again to make sure I was understanding him correctly. And that was definitely what he was saying. The confusion came about because of Aaron’s staff budding. In the Tay language, as with many languages in Papua New Guinea, a sprout or a bud from a plant is the same word that is used for children and grand-children. Kilion was bypassing the walking stick and coming away with only “Aaron’s sprouts”. Kilion was understanding the phrase very similarly to Isaiah 11:1 where it says, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;” (NIV).This was definitely not the meaning that we were after; especially in PNG where ancestors are worshiped. Steve, Jepiri and Kilion worked on the translation of the verse some more to make sure that it was explicit that it was Aaron’s staff sprouting and not Aaron’s sprouts.
Thank God that we caught this misunderstanding and we were able to correct it. Thank God that the New Testament in the Tay language is nearing completion. Only Romans, 1 & 2 Peter, and James need to have a consultant check before the Tay New Testament is ready for publication next year.
Chris is a Bible translator serving the Sob language group.