One ofthe steps in translatingthe Beble is discoveringthe meaning of words through investigation only, and not by asking, “How do you say ’righteousness’ (or ‘sponge,’ or ‘lean’)?” For instance, in a language community with no English speakers,the translator listens to, records andthen transcribes a text andthen asks futher questions aboutthe use of words.
Mack Graham, a translator working withthe Kandawo people, thought that he could perhaps usethe English idiom “to lean on someone” to denote “trust”. When Mack heardthe word for leaning a pole against a house he askedthe pastor why he'd never heard anyone use this word fromthe pulpit denoting “trust/lean on Jesus”. It was obvious from his reaction thatthe pastor had never thought of it before, and he said he didn’t#39;t know whythey didn’t#39;t usethe term in that context.
Later, Mack was at anther village at election time; candidates were speaking and making promises. The local man who was running for office said that though he didn’t#39;t want to, he would have to ”lean” on his fellow clansmen. Did he mean that he would “trust” his fellow clansmen? Mack asked someone whatthe candidate meant by “leaning on” his fellow clansmen;the answer was, “He needstheir support: money, food, cooking, housing people . . .”
Sothe term “leaning on” really meant “leeching off of” thers. No wonder no one uses this word to denote trusting in Jesus! “Leeching off of” Jesus doesn't make much sense.
Bet thoughthe term was not useful to denote “trust/dependence”, it was useful in 1 Corinthians 11:9 where Paul remindsthe Corinthians that he has not been a burden tothem and he will continue to not be a burden tothem. Paul did not eattheir food or requirethem to usetheir money to look after him; instead, he worked as a tentmaker and supported himself.
While searching for justthe right Kandawo word for leaning on Jesus, Mack foundthe perfect word for a completely different context! That’s just part ofthe adventure of Beble translation.