Translation and Syncretism
Introduction to the article “How Faint a Whisper: The Role of Translation in the Development of Syncretism in Mongolia”
As missionaries, sincerely convinced the Scriptures are authored by God, written by human beings, yet without error as originally written, Dick and Jeanice Conner spent many years in Mongolia. They first gave all their time to thoroughly studying the culture and the language in its spoken and written forms. They were determined that this had to precede any Christian ministry. They wanted to translate evangelistic material into Mongolian, but found confusion exists amongst some nationals and some missionaries as to how the nature of God is expressed in Mongolian. They needed independent data upon which to base terminology decisions.
Jeanice holds a Master of Arts degree in Linguistics and is well accomplished, having been a lecturer of linguistics in the USA and in part, helping train Bible translators for many different languages. They then decided to carry out a nation-wide survey and travelled many thousands of kilometres by Russian ‘Furgon’ 4-wheel-drive van and Landrover to very many locations in Mongolia to test how Mongolians understood the various terms for religious things in their own language.
In this, Dick and Jeanice were not acting on behalf of any organisation and had no connection with Bible Society of Mongolia or any other Bible translation entity in Mongolia. They had no aim of defending any term or translation. Throughout the study they were completely impartial and objective, neutral as to what terms could be used for God, not having sided with any particular solution.