Last night was supposed to be a big event. I followed the launch of the Lord’s Prayer (Bapa kami) sung in Malay. But the Malay lyrics follow the Alkitab Versi Borneo (AVB), a Malay translation that came out about 5 years ago. The melody is not bad but I have to listen to it more to catch the tune. One really needs a melodious tune if it is to be sung in public and used in liturgy. Perhaps I will try it out in my young teenage Bible study this Sunday. I feel pangs of pain in my heart when I listened to the song. Last Sunday I preached about Ezra as an expert of the Law of Moses and how he was called to teach the people of Israel. As far as bible translation is concerned, you need Bible experts. Not so called experts or church men or careerists but real scholars acknowledged by the academia in their specific fields. Obviously if one wants a Bornean version in Malay, ideally you have Sabah and Sarawak scholars leading the project, especially those who have used the Malay/Indonesian Bible for decades. When I say scholars, I mean biblical scholars who know Hebrew and Greek and the nuances of the biblical languages and how they work in translation.
Last night there were at least two or three words in the song that I would not use. “Sucilah namaMu” (Hallowed by the Name). Suci is a bit weak to translate the Greek “hagios”. I prefer the Indonesian version which is also a Malay word, “Dikuduskanlah namaMu”. “Suci” denotes pure or purity and Greek has a number of words for that like in Jesus’ beautitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. Here the word, “pure” has another Greek word, “katharos”, not “hagios” or "hagiazo" I sanctify) as it is found in the Lord’s Prayer (in the aorist passive imperative). So also in 1 John that he who follows Christ purifies himself for He is pure. Again the Greek word, “pure” is different. Thus, “kudus” is definitely a better word to translate “hallowed by thy name” for kudus in Malay is holy and holy is the name of God and our prayer is that His name is hallowed or “made holy” by our lives and witness to His name. My sadness is that there is still no Malay translation that is as good as our traditional Indonesian version. As long as this persists, we can’t replace the Indonesian version with a much less accurate version. We need Ezras of today to translate the Bible into Malay. Not half baked scholars and church men who should stay in their calling but shouldn’t venture into fields that are not their expertise.
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