Interesting Parallels from Old Testament Translation in Ghana
Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. African proverb
In Ghana, the native language is Nkonya. In 2010, the New Testament translation was completed and dedicated, through the combined efforts of Wycliffe Bible Translators of Canada, Ghana Institute of Linguistics, Literacy and Bible Translation, and our own Wes and Katie Peacock. Work on the Old Testament translation has begun, and following is an excerpt from the journals of Katie from her most recent work trip in Ghana ….
Dear Folks in Ethereal land,
Back from Ghana, and there is a lot to say about the trip, so this is the first of several installments.
I went to Nkonya to check the last 50 Psalms and time permitting, work on Leviticus. Well, those 50 Psalms just hustled themselves along, leaving plenty of time to finish all of Leviticus.
Nkonya Christians are much like their Canadian counterparts. They don’t spend a lot of time reading Leviticus. However, the Leviticus concepts are not as far removed from them as they are from us. We kept finding Nkonya parallels. Just look at the following Nkonya rules and prohibitions and see if they make you think of Levitical law:
• Men with six fingers on each hand, circumcised men, or men who have had sex with their wives that day can’t eat of the mashed yam at the yam festival.
• If you have a serious disease, you must undergo purification rites when you get better. If you don’t perform the rites and then die of some other cause, your death will be deemed a bad death. Your funeral cannot be held in town unless your relatives sacrifice a sheep first.
• Neither a fetish priest, nor a chief can defile himself by being in the presence of a dead body.
• Formerly, women had to sleep in special huts at the edge of town during their time of month — so as not to bring defilement to the town.
• Sacrifices are offered to pacify or honour gods and ancestors; to celebrate delivery from danger; to thank for a good harvest; to pacify warring parties and bring peace; or to accomplish purification.
The concepts of Leviticus are not all that strange to an Nkonya mindset, after all. Canadians have things to relearn.
We studied the holiness of God and his desire to live in the midst of his people, despite their uncleanness. I was blessed again and again. Leviticus is a great lens not only for laws but for understanding Christ’s atoning work. Not a bad study for Lent, even.