This week concluded week two of a francophone workshop for translation consultants in training. Brothers and sisters came from all over central Africa to participate and it’s been fun to work through translation issues together as a group. Yesterday, we discussed the appropriateness of translating John the Baptist’s exclamation “Behold the lamb of God” as “Behold the chicken of God” for cultures where lambs are either not well-known or the chicken is the animal of sacrifice. What do you think? Can Jesus just as well be called “the chicken of God” without great loss to the meaning of John the Baptist’s declaration?
Well, our group decided that this was not an appropriate translation. Can you think of some reasons why not? Leave your responses in the comments.
During our “chicken of God” discussion one brother from the Congo asked if I had a set exegetical procedure that I like to follow in working through Scripture. (Exegesis is the process of figuring out what a Scripture passage means. I’m working as a exegetical assistant, helping brothers and sisters work through this process to arrive [hopefully] at the meaning the biblical author intended.) Well, having been through seminary, I’ve been introduced to several different procedures–each scholar sort of has his own. The one I’m most used to comes from my New Testament professor, Dr. Black. And as providence would have it, I had been spending this past week reviewing various exegetical procedures in order to refresh myself for a new project on 2 Corinthians that I’m joining on Monday.
I told my Congolese brother about the procedure I prefer and then apologized that it’s in English. “Well, can you translate it into French for us?” he quipped. He then went on to add that he’s “only a pastor” [!] and that they have difficulty getting resources in French. Taking the last 30 minutes before the session ended, I worked feverishly to put together a quick and dirty exegetical guide based on Dr. Black’s procedure. I exported that puppy as a PDF and transferred it directly to my brother’s USB key. The file was then immediately shared with another brother sitting at the same table. I gave them my email address and said to get in touch if I could help in any way.
It’s clear that God orchestrates our lives. He led me to seminary, to Dr. Black, to Dr. Black’s exegetical method, to French school, to Cameroon, to reviewing exegesis for the fun of it, to this workshop, to the table where this brother was sitting, and he led me to do something useful.