Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cross-eyed at Cross-References

Go find a Bible and open it up at random. What do you see? As long as you didn’t pick one of those itsy-bitsy, thinline, miniscule-print, super-portable pocket Bibles, then I highly suspect that along the spine or down at the bottom of the page you will see a cross-reference. Or two. Or three. Or fifty.

Take a good long look at those cross-references. Admire them. Appreciate their tininess of print so that more can fit on a page. Marvel at the intricate specificity of each chapter and verse after chapter and verse. Rejoice at the precision and uniformity of all those periods and semicolons and book abbreviations. Oh yes, these little cross-references deserve your awe and respect….

…and so does the crew of people who painstakingly checked every single one of them!

The checking crew (plus the four involved in translation)!
Last week, I joined nine other detail-oriented people in a checking party for the Keyagana language in Eastern Highlands Province. When Scripture is in the process of being published, it must go through typesetting, which involves all those piddly (but critical!) details of layout, images, page numbers, columns, footnotes, index and more. Once it has all been organized as best as possible on the computer, then it’s time for the human checkers to go through every single formatting detail and make sure it is consistent throughout the entire document—in this case, well over 1800 pages of Scripture! The Keyagana NT had been dedicated back in 1982, and now the translators were ready to publish a New Testament revision along with about 40% of the Old Testament (in portions). We were privileged that several of the translators joined us at the beginning, sharing their story of over 51 years of work among the Keyagana people!

Here I am, checking page header after page header after...
In order to make the work go smoothly, we divided out each book into a separate stack on the tables, and then assigned each person to look for one specific thing. For example, my first task was to examine the page headers—making sure they fell on the correct side of the page (left or right), included the right information, punctuated correctly, right size font… and so on. Thus, I flipped through every page in their Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, trying to snag any errors in the page headers…and in the process watched familiar Bible stories turn under my hands, now, finally accessible to a dearly-beloved people group in their heart language. What an honor!

Checking cross-references...and still smiling!
But, the project soon stretched into an all day affair, primarily due to the vast numbers of cross-references inundating every page. Speaking of which, have you ever noticed how many are in the Gospels? Or in Psalms? Or Revelation?! It is a testament to the authenticity and amazing miracle of divine inspiration that page after page of Scripture continually links to other passages throughout the Bible…but I will admit, as my eyes watered and my neck stiffened into a permanent crick while counting through each period, I began to wonder if it was really quite necessary to have so many examples of connection? I mean, some of these numbers are astronomical! Not that I’d want to give the Lord of the Universe editing advice or anything, but you know…wouldn’t just a couple per page (or one per verse) get the message across just fine? ;)

But, until He decides to make me Supreme Editor in Chief of Efficient Checking, I will happily check His cross-references…even if I become slightly cross-eyed in the process!