Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Hunt translation

from w
Good to see that John Hunt's translation of parts of the Bible will be available soon as it apparently has much to commend it, compared with the translation from a later time. Vinaka vakalevu Dr Andrew Thornley.

from Fiji Village
Fijian translation of New Testament nears completion
Publish date/time: 07/04/2010 [11:56]
The compilation of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament by missionary, Reverend John Hunt is nearing completion. Two years from the bi-centennial of the famous Methodist missionary's birth, the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma will launch the second in the series of the Hunt New Testament which contains the gospels of Luke, John and the Acts of the Apostles this Friday.

Renown (ed) Pacific Church Historian Dr Andrew Thornley who had a part in editing the second book, said this is part of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament completed by Hunt in 1847 while he was on Viwa.

Thornley said since 1847, the first Fijian New Testament has been considerably revised, with many textual changes adding that as a result of these extensive revisions, Hunt's original Fijian translation, made directly from Greek into Fijian, has been lost to the Fiji people.

Thornley believes that Hunt's translation is important because some of his Fijian informants were among the outstanding first generation of Christian converts Ratu Ravisa, Noa Koroivugona and Adi Litia Vatea adding that the 1847 translation is more faithful to the original Greek.
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And from the Fiji Times Friday, and I do like the use of hyphens to make it more interesting!
Bible translation takes shape
Harold Koi
Friday, April 09, 2010

RESTORATION of a lost translation of the Fijian Bible from the original Greek text was now into its second phase.

Davuilevu Methodist Th-eological College's Rever-end James Bhagwan said after years of painstaking work, the compilation of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament by missionary Reverend John Hunt was nearing completion.

Rev Bhagwan said the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma would launch the second in the series of the Hunt New Testament which contains the gospels of Luke, John and the Acts of the Apostles at the Davu-ilevu Theological College today.

He said renowned Pacific Church Historian, Dr Andr-ew Thornley and Tauga Vulaono -- who in 2007 rele-ased the first book of the series containing the gos-pels of Matthew and Mark have also edited the second book.

Rev Bhagwan said accor-ding to Dr Thornley, the bo-ok was part of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament completed by the Methodist missionary Rev John Hunt in 1847.

"Since 1847, the first Fiji-an New Testament has been considerably revised, with many textual changes. As a result of these extensive re-visions, Hunt's original Fij-ian translation, made dire-ctly from Greek into Fijian, has been lost to the Fijian people," he said.

He said Rev John Hunt was better known as a pioneer amongst Wesleyan missionaries introducing Chris-tianity to Fiji.

15 comments:

Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Wendy and Peceli,
I'm writing this comment from Suva. Thanks for posting the items re the Hunt translation. I had not seen the "village" excerpt and was pleased with it.
There is a growing momentum of interest in the 1847 New Testament.
Basically, there were two quite different versions of the New Testament between 1840 and 1860, Hunt's original and James Calvert's 1858 revision done in England with the resources of the Bible Society. When Calvert returned to Fiji with thousands of copies of the revised NT (which would inevitably "swamp" the market), the missionaries were dismayed at the work that Calvert had done and complained of Fijian "vakapapalagi" in the new version [this a comment by the then Qase Levu - William Moore}. There is evidence also that the Fijians did not approve of some of the changes made in the revised NT. And yet this became the accepted NT for the next 150 years. This is why I am eager to see the return of the "lost" translation. It is more idiomatic, was completed with the support of key Fijian Christian converts, received the endorsement of great and wise missionaries such as Thomas Williams, Richard Lyth and David Hazlewood and finally is more faithful to the original Greek script. Hunt translated painstakingly from Greek directly to Fijian, despite the obvious limitations of the Fijian language. This is quite a masterful achievement and deserves its rightful recognition.
Can you believe that in the current NT, Luke 1:15 has Zechariah abstaining from Yagona! This is an unwarranted interpolation by Calvert and is a key example of where he inserted his own agenda. Hunt, by contrast, faithfully renders the Greek version of the verse, using the word "mateni" - strong drink. So Hunt by inference permits the drinking of yaqona (quite properly) but allows the idea of not drinking to excess to remain.
I am sorry to have written at length but I know your deep interest in this matter and value it very much.
At the invitation of Rev. Jovili Meo I will be launching the completed sections of the Hunt NT in Sydney on May 9th and speak about the early translations at that function.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Andrew,
Thank you for your comments. The Fiji Sun also ran an article about the launch, your pic too, but I thought this line was quaint:
"Today we launched the first Fijian Bible, the John Hunt edition that compromises of the Gospel of Luke, John and Acts," he said.

The journalists do need to smarten up and the sub-editors as well. Perhaps a decent hand-out for the media is the way to go.

Best wishes,
Wendy
PS If you are still in Davuilevu, ask the guys there to smarten up their website please! Some things just don't work well.

Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Wendy,
Yes, one always worries that the media will not get things right.
I had written a media release but the error in the Sun obviously came from a misunderstanding from a Sun journalist in an interview with me after the Davuilevu launch.
I have also been interviewed by Fiji TV and that will be on the news Sunday evening they tell me. Once again, I am sure there will be some misreporting but it's more important to get the message out and that has been happening during my time in Fiji.
Thankyou for your support.
One of my main aims now is to get the Methodist Church and the Bible Society to co-sponsor the publication of the complete Hunt New Testament when it is ready in 2012.
I will be encouraging the Davuilevu students and outgoing Talatalas to use the 1847 translation of the gospels and the Book of Acts as they preach around the country. This is the way the news will spread.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Andrew,
It's good to get publicity out early, then the follow-up through Davuilevu networks and the talatalas, PTC, and so on. I would like to see the book promoted for gifts to ordinary people for birthdays, and for school libraries. It would be a bonus for these Fijian language classes that are proposed in the schools. Then in Australia and New Zealand to the Fijian congregations so I guess Jovili and Sevati can help there.
I'm in between church services - we had a lovely baptism in East Geelong and now Peceli wants me to go up to Altona Meadows/Laverton church with him, and then maybe on to Coburg where the Lomaiviti people will have a service and fine food. Phew!
Best wishes,
Wendy

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Tuesday: The Fiji TV have a nice segment on the launch with an interview with Dr Thorley which adds more information on the different translations. Check out Fiji TV April 11th to view the news item.
W.

Kirstie Close said...

Thanks to all of you - I can't wait to have a look at this translation! Well done Andrew.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Kirstie,
Been reading fifty pages of very fine writing. Will email later today but am going to an Arnold Zable writing workshop this afternoon.

Andrew Thornley said...

Dear Wendy and Peceli,

I'm trying to find a place to get a discussion going and would welcome your response and others interested in this subject.
After speaking to a group of Fijians at Parramatta about the Hunt New Testament, I was approached by an earnest young Fijian who expressed dismay at the use of the word "bokoca" in the Lord's Prayer. Now this word is used in the Fijian Lord's Prayer as included in the Fijian Hymn Book. However all the Bible translations in Fijian, starting with John Hunt, use the word "cudruvi" and the young Fijian expressed himself as happier with that word.
So, from the perspective of a Fijian speaker, what is the difference between "bokoca" and cudruvi" and why would "bokoca" have been substituted in the Lord's Prayer in the Fijian Hymn Book when the word was never included in any of the New Testament translations?

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Andrew,
The subtles of the Fijian language are beyond me. Peceli is in Fiji at the moment. It's good that you are talking with present-day Fijians and how they understand language because it certainly changes over time. Peceli talks in 60s Fijian language, some people have said!
He is having a good trip, Nadi, Lautoka, Navua, Suva and now Labasa. He still wants me to be 'polite' rather than 'political' in babasiga postings!
Wendy

Andrew Thornley said...

Thanks Wendy for getting back on this one. Perhaps Peceli might wish to make some observations when he returns; I'd certainly appreciate that.

Andrew Thornley said...

Actually, just to add to my earlier query, here is a response from a Talatala in Fiji, Rev. Peni Cabenalevu, re the difference between the use of "bokoca" and "cudruvi" in the Fijian Lord's Prayer:
"The word "cudruvi" is more idomatic and shows clearly that man was, and now no longer is, the object of God's wrath or anger when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. The word "bokoca" does not fully express the idea or picture that comes to ones mind about God's forgiveness."

I would be interested to know how Peceli responds to this (once he gets back from Fiji)?

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Andrew,
I have the Capell Fijian Dictionary, 1957 edition, and the word 'forgive' suggests 'boko-ca, sega ni cudru-va; there is no real word forgiven; lomani tale.'
Interesting. We do need to slow down when reading the Biblical words and tease out meaning in every sentence, every word. A Jesuit, a specialist in Luke, gave a talk here one time and spoke for an hour on three lines from Luke!
What did the human writer of the gospel mean? What is God's intention in the meaning?
Language is fascinating. I like to hear the parables and some old Biblical stories told in local Fijian dialects. (And when I was teaching Scripture etc. I often made up my own versions, wrote small plays in English etc.) I remember our eldest son, at the age of four, spoke in Labasa dialect at the Wailevu village church. Peceli had asked him to tell the story of David and Goliath to the people. It was so funny - no 'k', no 't', or at least 'q' becomes 'k' etc. The people really laughed at this little kid!
I presume you've talked with Paul Geraghy about language. I have floppy discs of his monumental dictionary but haven't looked up specific words lately.
Wendy

Andrew Thornley said...

Thanks Wendy.
I will ask Paula about this issue when I next see him.
This seems to be a case of subtle changes in word meaning. Rev Veitinia Waqabaca here in Sydney tends to favour bokoca - she has used it all her life.
Bokoca was introduced into the Fijian Lord's Prayer through the Fijian Hymn Book by Rev CM Churchward - who was a recognized specialist in linguistics and lent his skills to Rotuman translation. He edited the Fijian Hymn Book and used the opportunity to substitute bokoca for cudruvi.
What surprises me is that those who revised the Fijian New Testament in the 1970s did not confirm the use of bokoca by inserting it into the Scriptures at that point.

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