Long sentences and rhetorical questions

Today we were working in 1 Corinthians during the review workshop in Kang and we ran into some problems with Paul’s tendency to use run-on sentences. We got to 1 Corinthians 4:7, which reads in the NIV, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
This verse presented many problems for us. For instance, this is all one sentence in Greek. We had to break it up, like English does, in order to make sense of it in Shekgalagari. There were questions about whether the “you” was singular or plural. That doesn’t matter in English, but it does in Shekgalagari!
We also had to deal with the rhetorical questions in the verse. They are not common in Shekgalagari and so they were hard for the reviewers to understand. What does it mean that we have received something? What exactly are these people not supposed to boast in?
In order to make this verse more clear, we ended up making the implicit subject of the verb “receive” explicit; that is to say, we added in the subject for the verb as God, Morimo. The verse now reads something roughly like this: “For who makes you different than everyone else? What do you have that you did not receive as a gift from God? And if God gave it to you as a gift, why are you boasting as though you were not given this gift by God?”
This is a common issue in translation because of the way different languages work. It just doesn’t make sense without some more context added to the verse and so we added that context to make the meaning of the verse more clear.
Keep on praying for us this week as we continue to work through the run-on sentences in 1 Corinthians. Pray that God would sharpen the minds of our reviewers and fill them with the Holy Spirit so that we might strive towards our goal of making God’s Word come to life in Shekgalagari.

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