Tidbit from the UBS Handbook on Mark

I was reading in the UBS Handbook on Mark lately and came across a choice bit on the topic of repentance. If you own the book, you can open it to the Introduction and follow along.

…any translator who is working in a language which is outside the Indo-European family of languages will need to have help on just how the various interpretations, as may exist in the Greek, can be adequately rendered in some other language. For these problems the commentaries are relatively useless, for there is no real need and, consequently, little attempt to explore these difficulties. In English, for example, the explanation that the Greek term for “repent” means “to change the mind” offers little difficulty to the reader. In many languages, however, “to change the mind” means merely “to change one’s opinion,” which is a far cry from the radical change envisaged by the original Greek term. It is necessary, therefore, to add that the meaning of “repent” in Kekchi, a language of Guatemala, is brought out by the phrase “it pains my heart”; in Baouli, of the Ivory Coast, “it hurts so much I want to quit” is the proper equivalent; in Northern Sotho, of South Africa, one must say “it becomes untwisted,” and in Tzeltal, of Mexico, the correct expression is “my heart returns because of my sin.” The idiom “to beat the breast” needs no explanation for English readers, but translators working in many of the languages of Africa need to be warned that this idiom, when literally translated, may mean “to congratulate oneself” (the equivalent to the English “pat oneself on the back”)…

Bratcher, R. G., & Nida, E. A. (1993, c1961). A handbook on the Gospel of Mark. Originally published: A translator’s handbook on the Gospel of Mark, 1961. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (vii-viii). New York: United Bible Societies.

The quotation illustrates not only how the Handbook Series serves the needs of translators but also how valuable it is for providing a fresh look at familiar passages and theological concepts. And isn’t that the challenge of pastors and teachers of all stripes, in all countries…to communicate the Word of God in a way that stirs hearts and changes lives?

(By the way, the footnote was automatically generated by Libronix. Just CTRL-C copy, CTRL-V paste, and there it is. Bam. I love this software.)

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One Response to “Tidbit from the UBS Handbook on Mark”

  1. Jeffery Ferrell March 1, 2006 at 1:30 pm #

    Dan,
    I am a user who is developing my list of favorite resources and trying to navigate which ones I should add to my library. Your article helps tremendously to understand why I need to add the Handbook Series and how to use it once I get it. This will be at the top of my list of resources to add next! Thanks!