make His paths straight, make ready the way of the Lord

The Greek (originally quotes from the Hebrew in Isaiah) that is translated as “(make ready the way of the Lord,) make His paths straight” or something similar in English is translated in Sa’a as “You, tidy up well the paths that are dirty.” Carl Gross reports: “The Sa’a people have a practice which beautifully captures the idea expressed in the Isaianic quote. One line of this was rendered ‘You, tidy up well the paths that are dirty.’ This may conjure up the idea of an anti-litter campaign, but assurances were given that, before a feast when other villages would come to visit, or when an important person was about to come, the whole village would go out and tidy up the road, removing stones, branches, and other obstacles, as well as litter. It is a road maintenance exercise, as well as a way of welcoming honored visitors.” (Source: Carl Gross)

In Chol it says “Make straight the way of the Lord: Go, clean up the path of our Lord” (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125), in Teutila Cuicatec “prepare your hearts; straighten out your thoughts, so that you will be ready to receive our Lord,” in Michoacán Nahuatl “prepare your hearts for our Lord as you would prepare a road for a person you would honor” and in Highland Oaxaca Chontal “when a great man arrives you sweep the road; you make it nice. Well, our master will arrive. For this reason make your minds good” (source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.).

Most High

The Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, or Greek that is translated as “(God) the Most High” or “Most High God” in English is translated in various way:

became dazzling white

The Greek that is translated as “became dazzling white” in English is translated in Sa’a with “a specially-coined, but old word for what happened to Jesus at the transfiguration. It means ‘gloriously changed to be bright and shiny and totally unlike anything else at all.’ It is used only for Jesus’ transfiguration, and then, by extension, for what will happen to us at our resurrection. The word is ‘nu’e’ — an awful lot meaning packed into just four letters!”

See also snow (color).

no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back

The Greek that is translated as “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back (is fit for the kingdom of God)” in English is translated in Sa’a as “Whoever at all who works in his garden, but just thinks indiscriminately about other things, then he is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”. Carl Gross explains: “In a society in which plowing is unknown, it is not possible to have a farmer setting his hand to the plow, let alone looking back once he had started. [The chosen translation] would even make sense to western urban dwellers who have never seen a plow.”

In Bislama “plow” is translated as stia blong bot, “steering paddle” or “rudder.” The whole verse is translated as “A person who holds the rudder but keeps looking back cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Source: Ross McKerras)

In Toposa it is translated as “No one aiming at an animal looks to the side when throwing the spear.” Plowing is not known in that culture and this communicated the meaning well. (Source: Martin and Helga Schröder in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 58f.)