Salt and Fire

by David Saxby | Wycliffe Today – October 2018 (PDF) | ABOVE PHOTO BY AILEEN AGONCILLO


Everyone will be salted with fire.
Mark 9:49 (NIV)

ISama deng orang taru garang di daging binatang yang dong mau kasi korbang par Allah par biking akang jadi barsi, Allah jua nanti taru susa deng sangsara dalang orang yang parcaya pung hidop par biking dong jadi barsi.
Mark 9:49 Ambonese Malay (draft)


In Mark 9:49, we read Jesus’ words: ‘Everyone will be salted with fire’ (NIV). This sentence is just four words in the Greek text but commentators have proposed more than a dozen different interpretations.

Early in 2018, this verse generated a lot of discussion in the Ambonese Malay translation team. We could translate word-for-word. We could elaborate to make the metaphors clearer. We could use footnotes to explain the relevant background knowledge. We could avoid using metaphors altogether. Which of these options would communicate accurately and clearly in Ambonese Malay and create a translation that is accepted by local church leaders for teaching and preaching? Bible translators must make decisions like this in every passage.

In our final draft of Mark 9:49, we decided to include details of the Jewish practice of salting an offering (Lev 2:13) and explain the meaning of the metaphorical use of salt and fire. In doing so, we use a sentence of 38 Ambonese Malay words to convey the sense and significance of the original four Greek words. Importantly, this and all our translation decisions are thoroughly reviewed by translators, facilitators, local church leaders and Bible translation consultants before publication.





Praise God the final draft of the Ambonese Malay New Testament is almost complete! Please pray for a smooth journey to publication in 2020 and for growing excitement in the community.



Author: David Saxby, translation facilitator for the Ambonese Malay New Testament translation in Indonesia.

David & Lilian Saxby

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