Within the next few months, Dick Scott will see a job of a life-time finished—the translation of the bible into the native language of the Choco tribe from East Panama. Dick Scott, Beaverton Foursquare Church former pastor, started the translation project 53 years ago after he first visited Panama in 1960, at the age of 24.
How It All Started
Scott spent 13 years living with the 35,000 member tribe, with no running water or roads. He was surprised, though, by the tribe’s willingness to take him and other missionaries in, who quickly learnt the local language. Eventually, Scott returned home and became the leading pastor in Beaverton Foursquare Church, but he kept working on his translation aided by a local, José Cabrera.
At the beginning, Dick Scott worked with his manual typewriter, which he used to slowly translate the Bible into a language which did not originally have an alphabet. He used to work at nights, after his day job was finished.
Another problem he had to face was the death of his co-worker José Cabrera. Cabrera’s son, Ricardo, luckily stepped in to help Scott keep going with his project. Together, they managed to overcome yet another setback—when they were close to finishing the problem, non-indigenous individuals from the city of Panama decided to change the alphabet rather drastically, forcing the translators to review all the work they had completed so far.
Apart from the problem of figuring out how to reduce the tribe’s language sounds to writing, Scott had to face the Bible’s complicated writing, full of metaphors and parables. This caused the dilemma of choosing between a more literal translation or trying to rewrite the message for a modern audience. To this, Dick Scott confessed being more interested in getting his job finished to give the Choco tribe the opportunity to read God’s words in their own language.
Closing a Chapter
With the advantages of modern computers and communication, the process could be effectively sped up. The first copies are expected to be printed in only a couple of months, as the final reviews are about to be finished. An audio version will also be released for all of those who can speak the language but cannot read it. With this, Dick Scott, at 75 years old, will finally be able to close a chapter of his life which has been longer than half a century.