The Prophet and divine manifestation: On the translation of ‘prophet’ in the Shona Union Bible


divine manifestation
African Traditional Religion


The Shona Union Bible of 1950, which happens to be the commonly used version of the Bible among the Shona of Zimbabwe did not translate the word ‘prophet’ choosing rather to transliterate it. This is rather amazing considering the key role of this office in any religion. Other recent translations have offered Shona translations of this term. The reception of the new translations have been mixed, no wonder many Shona Bible readers still prefer the 1950 Shona Union Bible. What were the possible reasons for the early missionaries’ decision to leave the term untranslated? How best could this term be translated? This paper attempts to answer these questions. It takes seriously the politics of Bible translation as has already been observed by scholars on Bible translation. The paper considers the Hebrew world of the term to fully understand its meaning. It then considers the Shona (African) religious worldview to seek possible offices that could be compared to the Hebrew prophet. That done, the paper concludes that svikiro was the right term to translate prophet. 



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