Ephesians is not a normal place to start translating the Bible, but that’s where Cori Gervasi and Naomi Christenson have jumped into the Sekadau translation team.
“It has been a brain-twisting exercise to search for words to accurately and dynamically communicate all that is packed into this tiny book,” Naomi wrote.
Most translators start with something more straightforward, such as the Gospel of Mark or a book of history from the Old Testament. But Cori and Naomi are revising a teaching draft of Ephesians so the Sekadau leaders-in-training have material to teach from.
“Along the way we've run into some interesting quandaries,” Naomi wrote. “Paul addresses some heavy issues: the unity of the Jews and Gentiles, the mystery of Christ, the church described as a house and as a bride. It has been stretching to think through these concepts in Sekadau.”
Some of the vocabulary has been challenging as well.
Ephesians 5:5 refers to “a greedy person.” “Would you believe … we are still searching for a word that means greedy?” Naomi wrote. “So far we have to use a whole sentence to describe a person who always wants more, who is not satisfied with what he has.”
The Sekadau language seems to lack a word or a term for glorious, which is needed for Ephesians 5:27’s “a glorious church.” The closest Cori and Naomi have been able to come is mancilang, which means “shiny.”
“Should we use it or would it mean, ‘a shiny church?’” Naomi wrote.
Ephesians 6:18 refers to praying with persistence.” But “we have yet to nail a word that communicates this. This makes us wonder, should we just come at it from a different angle, like never giving up, never stopping?”
All this has Cori and Naomi glad they’re part of a team.
“Paul Gervasi [Cori’s father] does the initial draft and Cori and I put our minds together on polishing it up,” Naomi wrote. “Then Cori and I check it with our friend Ine' Cintya in the village. I've been blessed be working with such a gifted team.”