Chapter 59: The Revision of the Itawes Bible

When the Malaweg Scriptures were off the press and we had completed the dedication of the books to the Lord in February, 2005, both Chuck and I were tired. We had been on the go constantly and were ready to rest. But we had decided to reprint our Itawes scriptures and to revise them in preparation for that, and that was going to take quite a few years. So, we went home on furlough in March, 2005 to take our rest, had a great time while we were there, and left the States again in July to go back to the Philippines.

We had made a number of changes when we translated the Itawes Bible into Malaweg, and considered them to be improvements. A rather complicated method was followed in revising the Itawes: I read the Itawes text, and Chuck followed along in the Malaweg text. Whenever there was a difference that Chuck thought might be an improvement in Itawes, I wrote it down. I wrote only what Chuck told me to write—not what I thought, because I didn’t know it that well, but I could read it fairly well, and I could write down what he said. His writing was shaky and often he couldn’t read what he had written. I wrote down everything he said so that later on, when we began meeting with our reviewers, he could bring up things that we felt were improvements.

As it happens, some of this work was done in times we were in Manila, though most of it was accomplished while we were in Enrile. We started this on July 9th of 2005. This was work that Chuck and I did by ourselves, this back-checking with the Malaweg translation. And we did it with all of the previously translated Old Testament portions as well as the gospel books in the New Testament by August 9th. By September 8th, we had finished the rest of the New Testament. On August 10th, we had our first meeting with the reviewers to go over this newly revised material. Four preachers assisted us in doing the job starting with Genesis and the parts of the Old Testament we had completed. Two of them were preachers of our churches and two were preachers of evangelical churches in our town—all very good friends.

Because they were preachers, they had obligations in their churches and we could meet only two days a week—Tuesday and Thursday. (Of course, there were times when we could not meet even on those days.) Before each meeting, we made copies of the text we planned to work on so that each member could preview it and mark spots he thought could be improved, similar to the way we had done with the checking of the Malaweg scripture. At the meetings, we took turns submitting our suggestions. Sometimes they were accepted almost immediately, sometimes they were rejected almost immediately. And sometimes they initiated a discussion that might go on for 10, 20 or 30 minutes. We wanted to do whatever was necessary to find the most accurate and most natural way to express the message of the text.

There was an average of eight verses per page, and we usually did ten to thirteen pages per day. There are almost a thousand pages in our New Testament. At that rate, it took more than a year to finish the New Testament. On top of that, we had the book of Psalms to do, which had 245 pages plus Genesis, Ruth, Jonah and portions of about 24 other books. We could see we were in for the long haul, and it actually ended up taking over five years for the whole process, including printing. When we worked with our reviewers, Chuck had the computer on with the appropriate text showing so he could type in the changes as they were decided upon. Of course, not being a native Itawes speaker, Chuck didn’t really know what should be changed, so the reviewers had the final say. Well, it was almost the final say, because only Chuck understood the English and Greek text and whether or not the translation really followed them. If the reviewers did not get the correct understanding, then Chuck had to correct their understanding and bring them to the correct translation, too. After eventually completing the revision of the New Testament books, we started revising the books of the Old Testament that had been previously translated. When we were done, we had them approved again by the Catholic priests.

The first day we had our reviewers’ meeting, we did 40 pages, the second day, only 30, the third day, 25, and the next, 28 pages. We had five men the first day, 4 of whom were the preachers we had chosen. The fifth man was on the Enrile town council, and he used our books in his Bible studies in town. However, he only came that first day and did not return after that. He later became the Vice Mayor, and we appreciated the fact that he knew what we were doing in Enrile and why we were there. He bought more Bibles than any other person.

They were for his Couples for Christ class. The other men had been on our reviewers’ committee when we originally did work on the Itawes Bible, so they understood what we were doing, and why, and they did a good job of giving their opinions on various things that came up. Three of them were graduates of Aparri Bible Seminary, and the other man graduated from a seminary in Manila. They had a good background in the Word of God, and we were thankful to have these men working with us on this project.

At our third meeting, on August 19th, 2005, the preachers told us the people were complaining because they only had part of the Old Testament. And this was a fact. Another fact was that we had originally not intended to translate any of the Old Testament, and the books we ended up translating were specifically chosen to support reference passages from the New Testament. Most translations are of the New Testament only. Now it seemed the people were asking for the entirety of the Old Testament to be translated into Itawes. What we had already translated was less than half of the Bible, and we were in our late 70s, so we felt it was too late for us to finish translation of the Old Testament. Still, we wanted to keep them moving in the right direction. So, we told them that if they could find qualified people who would do the translation, we would work with them. Two of the preachers said they would like to do it, and there was another man in the Enrile church who said he also would like to work on it. We knew they would need training, and when we investigated the possibilities, we found there was an organization called Luzon Mother Tongue Translators. They were planning on having a three week training seminar starting the next week in Bagabag at the SIL facility. We sent our three men to that, and they came back enthusiastic, so we immediately wanted to get them started with an office of their own.

At this point, there is a split in the story. On one hand, we were working with the reviewing committee on the previously translated New Testament and parts of the Old Testament. This work continued from August 10th, 2004, through February 2007. On the other hand, we had two native translators working on “new” books of the Old Testament. Here is part of their story.

Carl Stevens, the director of Christian Aviation and Radio Mission, (CARM), invited us to set up our office in the building they have for the radio studio in Tuguegarao. We accepted Carl’s offer of that space, and praised the Lord for it. Going through the SIL computer guy in Manila, we purchased computers for their use. At that time, he installed the programs they would need for the translation work, with which they had become familiar at the seminar. We also gave them whatever else they needed for the job, desks, chairs, filing equipment and such like. The room was air-conditioned and had a library they could use for help. Although they were inexperienced translators, we felt we could end up with a good translation with the help of our checking committee, who were all trained in Bible seminaries in the Philippines.

Our hope in this endeavor was that all the remaining books of the Old Testament would be translated by our new team. With everything in place for the translators, we were able to take a short vacation to the States, and we enjoyed that time thoroughly. We couldn’t wait to see the progress of our new translators when we returned. It seems that, while we were away, they had split the remaining chapters of Exodus between themselves and translated them into Itawes. Over the five years we worked on this project with them, they ended up translating nine more historical books of the Old Testament.

For the newly translated texts, we did not do the naïve checks, since we assumed the translators did this before turning in their completed translations. However, we gave these texts much closer study as we went through them with our committee. We had only two men translating those nine books since one of the original three said he was an evangelist rather than a translator, and he could not give himself to that task whole-heartedly. Instead, he remained a member of our reviewing committee and did an excellent job of that.

In February 2007, the split story got reunited, and the reviewing committee began work on what our new translators had done. The first book to be ready was II Samuel. The first day, we got only 4 pages completed. It was rough. The second day, we got only up to Chapter 3, another four rough pages, but eventually we finished that book. It basically took the entire month of February. In March 2007, we only got through the first five pages of Nehemiah, but there was a good reason for that.

At exactly that same time, we were getting ready for Vacation Bible School. The VBS material for this year was unusual in that there were eight stories in the lessons that were taken from the Old Testament. Normally, this would have been a problem for the VBS teachers, since much of the Old Testament was as yet untranslated. However, as the Lord worked it out, our translators just happened to be available to work on the passages that were needed by the VBS teachers for their lessons. They postponed their work on Nehemiah, and instead went to work on II Kings, Ruth, parts of Esther and I and II Samuel with a certain deadline in mind. The reviewers were also right on top of their part, too, with Chuck keying in most of the changes into the computer as the translation proceeded. The other two stories they needed for their lessons were in the New Testament that had already been translated. And VBS went very smoothly that year.

Tirso Ibarra, Celso Caranguian, Us, Lito Binasoy, Dominador Tallud, working on Revision of Itawes Bible

Tirso Ibarra, Celso Caranguian, Us, Lito Binasoy, Dominador Tallud, working on Revision of Itawes Bible

When that was all done, we continued with the rest of the Old Testament the Itawes men had translated. When we got to the second round of checking their work, we were able to do as many as 32 pages on I Kings, which was more than we had ever done before. We never did that many after that, but it did go better than on the first round, and the next day we worked, we got 23 pages done, and finally finished the book. We just praise the Lord that these men spent the time to do this work, because now we have more added to our Itawes Bible, and the text is full of excellent material for teaching the Word of God to children as well as to adults.

When we finished checking and revising a book of the Itawes Bible, it went to two Itawes priests who had been chosen by the Archbishop of Tuguegarao to check our book. By September 21st, 2007, we took Matthew, Mark, Luke and John directly to the priests at the seminary where they taught. However, that was quite a distance, so in November, 2007, we took the rest of the New Testament books to the Church headquarters in Tuguegarao and they relayed them to the priests. When we went to take our first completed Old Testament book, we took it to them at their seminary. We asked what books they had received from us, and Monsignor Singayan personally handed us a box full of scripture we had sent to him.

He said, “I have your John to return to you.” He couldn’t remember what else they had reviewed, but he did know that John was at the top of the pile. We accepted the finished scriptures with much appreciation.

When we got home and looked in the box to see what was there, we saw the titles we had written on the first page of each book: I Cor, Gal, Efeso, Hebreo and 2 Juan. As we flipped through the papers, there were all the other books of the New Testament, also. Wow! It was a real blessing from the Lord that they had been able to check all those books even though they were very busy teaching the seminary students. We could hardly get over it because we knew that Msgr. Henry Singayan was getting old and he had had a stroke the previous year with a long period of recuperation, and was keeping up with his teaching duties besides.

All the scriptures went to the Catholic priests for their checking and were accepted with thanks. They made no comments on any of it, as it was totally acceptable to them. When we had finally gotten everything back from them, we thought it was ready to be type-set and printed, a process which would take many months.

On September 9th, 2008, we got our computer to SIL in Manila for the typesetting. The typesetter copied the Itawes text from our computer and put it onto his own computer so he could work on it there. He went through a lot of checks that needed to be done—like the verse numbers, beginning and end quotes and a multitude of other things. When he was satisfied that these preliminary checks were complete, he started the actual typesetting of the text. That’s when he found that certain things were missing, like chapter 1 of II Timothy, the Glossary, and more, so he couldn’t proceed. We realized that we had failed to copy the entire text from our desktop computer onto our laptop, so, we put the typesetting on hold and went back to Enrile to fill in the missing parts.

While we were in Enrile, Chuck took the opportunity to recheck everything. He felt that because it was God’s Word we were working on, we had to do our best. By January 2009, the reviewers had checked the glossary of the Old and New Testaments and were going through the New Testament itself once more. In Chuck’s personal time on the computer, he went over the books to find areas where he had questions to ask the men. Sometimes he even changed some of the passages to be more like they should be, but he always checked those places with the men to make sure they were correct. Our very last reviewers’ meeting was held on February 26th, 2009.

On March 3rd, we were back in Manila at the SIL Center to finish typesetting the Itawes Bible revision. We were down there for approximately two months, living in an apartment above the offices on the center. We both read everything, and we read it on our own, so errors one of us missed, the other might find.

On May 7th, our typesetting was finished. The typesetter had us meet with him and the whole SIL office staff to have a ceremony of thanksgiving, which we had at 3 PM. Chuck gave a little history of our coming to the Philippines and doing this job so that those who didn’t know us would understand who we were and what we did. Appropriately, the typesetter gave the prayer. We took a picture of the finished typeset print-out. It was about a foot tall, but when it was in book form, it was 2155 pages long on thin Bible paper with a hard black cover. It was 5 1/2 inches wide, 8 1/2 inches tall and 2 inches thick. The Itawes Bible had been revised and typeset, but it would be several months before it would be printed.

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