Torch, Spring 1978

TORCH: How.effective has your work beenl FISHER: I have been pleased with the results. The government, which has been very critical of language reductions, acceptedmy work. In fact, they published the reduction of Neao along with the doctoral theses from the university. This represented complete acceptance. TORCH: Whatprocessdoyou use in translating the Biblel FISHER: Well, first of all, I prepare a rough translation from the Greek text. The phrasing is constantly checked for understanding with Bamby, my translation helper. He, in turn, tests the clarity of the work with others who speak Neao. TORCH: Do you "test-market" the translation before printing iU FISHER: Yes. Two hundred copies of the translation are prepared and used in the churches. This is the only part of the Bible which they have, so we get a lot of helpful feed-back from the pastors and the people. TORCH: Is the translation then ready for publication? FISHER: Not quite.We respond to the feed-back by completely reviewing the translation. It is smoothed out and examined for consistency in the translation of identical Greek terms. Passages with similar problems must also be re-worked and improved. This process often takes over a year. TORCH: Now for the question in whichwe aremost interested. Do you feel that the Bible is the inspiredWord of Godl FISHER: Absolutely. I once had a translator say tome that the more he translated, the more he doubted the inspiration of the Bible. I have an opposite conviction. My study and work have convinced me that the Bible claims to be and is the inspired Word of God. TORCH: How has abelief in inspiration affected your translation workl FISHER: I think that it has made me more careful in my work and has led to the acceptance of important principles for the translation of God'sWord. TORCH: What are those principles? FISHER: First ofall, I attempt to say no more and no less than that which appears in the Greek text. Secondly, I have to make sure that the translation is understood and not misunderstood. TORCH: Can you give an example? FISHER: Sure. The people with whom I work have five different words which can be used to translate theword "spiritual." The problem is that all of these words introduce inaccurate concepts. This makes the communication of terms such as "spiritual gifts" or "spiritual life" very difficult. The solution, in this case, has been to create the term "regenerated spiritual" in order to place the people's thoughts in a new pattern. In this way we develop new content and understanding. TORCH: How literal is your translation? FISHER: It ismy intention tomake sure that every Greek word is represented in the translation. Yet the final product must follow the word order and special principles of Neao. I want tomake theWord ofGod as clear to theAfricans as it was to the Greeks. TORCH: This seems like a lot of work. Wouldn't it be effective enaugh to simply distribute French translations? FISHER: No, it wouldn't. French is the national language of commerce. But the language of the people's funerals and weddings, their joys and their sorrows, as well as the intimacy of their family life is Neao-and the Bible should be in that language. 13 TORCH: What is the hardest part of your translation workl FISHER: It is verydifficult forme to keep the character of mywork the same as that of the Greek text. When the text is ambiguous it is my responsibility to keep it ambiguous in Neao. I am translating, not writing a commentary. TORCH: What provides the greatest satisfaction 1 FISHER: Discoveringaclearway to translate an important Biblical term. For a long time we had a hard time translating the word "grace." We thought that there was no equivalent word in Neao becausegiving is alwaysdonewith a purpose. It is not an attribute of the people to give without an expectation of repayment. This forced us to use the term "free gift," which met the need, but in a superficial way. The concept was still not taken from the language of the people. About amonth before we returned home this time, one of our pastors was speaking with an elderly man. He explained that in old times when someone really loved someone he could give somethingwithout any thought of return. This was called Jay-eh. We had discovered an almost forgotten concept of unmerited favor and unselfish giving. This can now be used to explain who God is and what He does in providing that which is needed by all men. Allen and Ruth Fisher are missionaries as– sociated with Baptist Mid-Missions of Cleveland, Ohio. This interviewwas conducted by Daniel C. Stevens.