Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vinaka Dr Thornley

from w And from today's Fiji Sun, good news about John Hunt's translation of the New Testament into Fijian. Thank you Dr Thornley for the initiative and great work done. Headline 'ITaukei' ought to be 'Fijian' of course as has been customary for describing Fiji's indigenous people for the general public. iTaukei New Testament republished May 18, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom By MORVEN SIDAL (*Morven Sidal holds a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Pacific Theological College in Suva.) The earliest translation of the New Testament in the iTaukei language, published on the island of Viwa in 1847, will be republished in Fiji next month. The Reverend John Hunt, Wesleyan missionary to Fiji from 1839-1848, prepared the original translation, working directly from Greek into iTaukei vernacular. Reverend Hunt was helped by missionary colleagues, with iTaukei first-generation converts providing linguistic assistance. Among these early iTaukei Methodists three were known to have given considerable help to Reverend Hunt: Ratu Ravisa (Ilaitia Varani), Adi Litia Vatea, and Noa Koroivugona. The latter, after a period of theological training, made the most significant contribution. Reverend Hunt said of Mr Koroivugona: “He understands so much of the general meaning of Scripture that his assistance in the work of translating is very valuable.” Mr Koroivugona’s Fijian associates referred to him as ‘the salt of the language’ and ‘a master of words’. Reverend Hunt spared no pains to secure for the people of Fiji ‘the pure precious and incorruptible word of the Living God,’ and his translation was described as ‘a most excellent version.’ He used the Bau dialect in his translation as it was more generally known throughout Fiji. One thousand copies of Reverend Hunt’s translation were printed at Viwa. Very few of those original copies remain. Reverend Hunt died in 1848 and in the years that followed many corrections and alterations were made to his translation. James Calvert went to England in 1855 and worked on a new version of the New Testament with the British and Foreign Bible Society, changing many words that Reverend Hunt had used and adopting a more literal method of translation. This ‘London Edition’, completed in 1858, was considered unsatisfactory by senior missionaries and Fijian converts. Some corrections and alterations were then made by Reverend Calvert in an edition published in 1866. In 1902, another revision was prepared for the Bible Society by retired Qase Levu Frederick Langham. Some 70 years later, the Bible Society in the South Pacific commissioned a further New Testament revision which largely accepted the 1902 New Testament and produced the copy used in today’s churches. Thus the iTaukei New Testament has undergone many changes from the original language and style used by Reverend Hunt. The re-publication of the Reverend John Hunt New Testament, under the guidance of church historian Dr Andrew Thornley, is taken directly from the copy held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. Dr Thornley said he is “motivated not by an endeavour to replace the more recent editions but by the desire to make available to modern readers of Fijian the particular idiomatic language and beauty of Hunt’s original New Testament.” The publication date of June 13, 2012 is exactly 200 years since the birth of Reverend John Hunt; hence his New Testament also commemorates the years of significant service that he and his wife, Hannah, gave to Fiji from 1839 to 1848. Dr Thornley has engaged the assistance of Tauga Vulaono as editor, and many Fijian ministers and lay people who have provided commentaries on words of particular interest in this New Testament. (This article originally appeared this month in Touchstone, the national newspaper of the Methodist Church of New Zealand.)

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