Zach Cann

Zach Cann

sent out by Grace Bible Church to plant churches among the Ndo people

This week I finished preliminary edits on Genesis chapter 3. This means I will start reading this chapter to people in the village—young and old, men and women—and checking to see if it communicates clearly. This is exciting, because as you may know, Genesis 3 contains the first glimmers of the good news that Jesus will save his people from their sins. In English, Genesis 3:15 reads:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. —Genesis 3:15 (ESV)

It’s the declaration of God that a seed (an offspring) is coming who will crush the serpents head.

In nDo, the verse currently reads like this:

Asa keya pare nguya meteng kama yoweyari. Suwisawike nguya paretoro suwisawiyong nguya kiro khuma tero epe qene sore-sore yoweyanggo. Pare nguro suwisawiyonggato tunoqero tapangge ketini sowoweya. Kowe uni ngu keto kindungo kiweya. — O Muriye 3:15

There is a lot going on in this verse, but the word I want to single out is suwisawiyonggato. This is a cool word. It is the word that points most clearly to the coming rescuer. Lemme break it down for ya (if you’re on a smartphone, turn the screen sideways to see the proper formatting):

Suwisawi    -yong    -ka (becomes ga)    -ko (becomes to)
offspring     -her      -one                           -subject maker

So literally it means “One of the woman’s offspring is going to do something.” And that one is going to tappengge ketini sowoweya—step on your (the snake’s) head so that it will break. The enemy is going to be destroyed by a child from the line of Adam and Eve. The mystery is that this child will actually be Emmanuel, “God with us” — Anutuko noreya yote (Matthew 1:23).

Suwisawiyonggato is not the full gospel. It’s a seed that’s not fully grown. It’s not all that God wants to say. But it is a start. Genesis means beginnings. In nDo we’ve called Genesis “O Muriye”—the root of all things. And it’s like witnessing a miracle to watch God’s revelation unfold in the nDo language from the roots to the tallest reaches of the tree.

I love how such small grammatical details make such a clear and wonderful difference in the good news proclamations of the Bible!

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