Edification for Interpretation
By: Femi Omotoyinbo
With the admonition of Christ (Mark 16:15); Christianity was activated with a potency of diffusion. Just like the valued Israelites in their exodus and divine displacements, the Gospel has transpired almost round the universe. Starting with the Acts of the Apostles, especially the Philip’s encounter with the African Treasurer under the Candice (Acts 8:27), Christianity as the Good News has transpired deep into nooks and crannies. It is not out of cognition that most of the causes of the movement of the gospel are not conventional, rather divine. The Apostles never held a general meeting in order to bring about salvation into the other ends of the world. Yet the gospel spreads for it is having the default feature of perpetual diffusion.
The unique feature of diffusion has never really paved way for the smooth movement of the Good News. In other words, the spread of the gospel is not as simple as ABC or as easy as scoring Zero. The movement has been bedevilled with serious perturbing challenges. Most times the movement is paused due to lack of constant transitional mediums, persecution of the few labourers and corruption of the real gospel by the exigencies of globalization. Even if the gospel keeps spreading the problem of understanding it still stands tall. Yes, missionaries are flooding the remote spheres of the Earth but the challenges persist due to subjectivity of language. Individual groups on the earth have peculiar rules by which their linguistic games are played. This is a clog in the wheel of the gospel. Attempts to solve the problem can be holistically traced to the quests for interpreters by missionaries.
The acquisition of interpreters seems to solve the problem: the cursor is now on the problem of the interpretation and interpreters. Anyone with dual tongue can grab the microphone and interchange statements under the guidance of semantics to the sweet melancholy of the congregation. Is there anything more of an interpreter than this?
[Writing on interpreters does not make me one nor does it make me an authority on interpretation. But my pen puts all these down under the auspices of the Holy Ghost.]
It is worth knowing that the spiritual vocation of an interpreter is as risky as preaching.
Beginning with the individuality of interpreters it will be open that there are individual differences; but there are also universal peculiarities that are deserving of an average interpreter. Interpretation is a gift not a vocation – there is nothing like Bible College of Interpreters. It is a gift of God that can be developed. However, this gift is neither cheap nor easy. On this note a good interpreter is someone with these three main attributes: academic buoyancy, psychogenic balance and spiritual maturity.
To be academically buoyant entails more than getting educated. It involves possessing and mastering some skills like listening and understanding skills. These two must also be managed to work pari passu with good diction. It is commonsensical that one must listen to understand; then one can be able to relate what one understands in desired language. Being academically balanced also accommodates being linguistically creative. Since interpreted words are no more the exact raw words; there is need for creativity in order to maintain the originality of meanings in the given words.
Psychogenically balanced interpreters are known by their composure. They are not easily confused for they are broad minded. This aspect obviously deals with the mind. It is an attribute whereby the interpreter will flow along with the preacher and even understanding what is a bit difficult for the preacher to express clearly.
Importantly, it also involves being emotionally conscious. The congregation consists of human beings that are bound to display emotions that may be either positive or negative to the flow of the sermon. In this case the interpreter should be able to blend words into their emotions having it in mind that the Good News (even the interpreted version) is a seed that germinates on cultivated soils. Instances include making the congregation smile, even if the Preacher is a bit stiff emotionally. For such a task, the psychogenically balanced interpreter must be broad minded in virtue of using contextual dictions and not a dry fabrication of his/her own.
Spiritual maturity as the third main attribute is basically a juxtaposition of the prior two attributes. That is, the interpreter should be academically and psychogenically inclined with the scriptures. Thanks to the unique attribute of diffusion that I said the Good News is having at the onset. This has led to a sort of linguistic procreation in which there are other language versions of the Bible. The interpreter is thus enabled to sometimes pick words directly from the scriptures. Going by this, this attribute involves being scripturally intelligent. The broad mind, on the other hand must contain offhand quotations from the Bible; this for sure, foster the interactive link between the preacher and the interpreter. Another point under this aspect is what I call the “Soul of the Second Mouth.” In this respect the interpreter should be self aware that s/he is neither the mixer nor the microphone. The word of God – which is sharper than two edged sword (Heb 4:12) – should therefore impact everyone’s including that of the interpreter (The Second Mouth). The Gospel is for the soul and later extended to the body; since the interpreter is not devoid of these, he/she should take heed lest s/he unconsciously exclude him/herself from the sermon.
It is of high importance to note that boldness can be accrued from this attribute of Spiritual maturity; especially when the interpreter can trust in the Lord for help as he prays before and after every act of interpreting.
With the three main attributes (as discussed above) the interpretation is now placed on good footing; an excellent step to ultra-excellence. Interpretation is variably of dual kinds: the common one is Mother-tongue interpretation which is the verbal translation of a foreign language (whether local or international) into your original dialect or language. The second type, which is the reversal of the former, is called Non-mother tongue interpretation. An example of this occurs when the preacher speaks in dialect i.e. Idoma, while the interpreter inter-switch it with English. English here is a non-modern tongue language.
Neither of these two is devoid of challenges. The challenges might be natural or human facilitated. Coping with them is thus another task in interpretation.
Interpretation is a ministry unto honour; one can be an esteemed vessel therein if one will not disdain the given opinions here. Remember that for our services to be acceptable to God, it will not be rendered in holiness alone but also in decency and orderliness (I Cor. 14:40).
Author Resource:-> This article is a piece drawn from an insightful work on the issue of Interpretation in Churches as written by Femi Omotoyinbo.
It is thus written to aid individuals in the lane of perpetuating the Kingdom of God.
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