relative age of Andrew and Peter (Simon)

Many languages have terms for siblings that define whether one is younger or older in relation to another sibling.

In the case of Peter (Simon) and Andrew, Simon was assumed to be the older of the two brothers in Navajo because he typically is mentioned first (see Wallis 2000, p. 103f.) The same choice was made in Biangai (source: Larson 1998, p. 40).

In Batak Karo, the Greek term for the English term “brother” “is the term for a male having the same father and mother as the reference person, ‘brother.’ The general term for this in Batak Karo is ‘sembuyak,’ but the language prefers a particular kinship term in relation to the reference person. The Revised Standard Version translates the first part of Matt 4:18 as follows: ‘As he walked by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother.’ The first problem here is how to translate ‘two brothers.’ In Batak Karo, if translated literally it will mean that the speaker and the ‘two brothers’ are all brothers. Therefore the relationship between the ‘two’ has to be stated, that they are related to one another as brothers, which in Karo is ‘dua kaiak si sembuyak’ (literally ‘two persons who are from the same womb’). The second problem is the relationship between Simon and Andrew: which of them is older? On the basis of Semitic usage, the older is usually mentioned first (see Gen 4:8; 35:23). So Andrew is Simon’s younger brother; and therefore the translation will be ‘Petrus ras agina Andreas’ (‘Peter and his younger brother, Andrew’).” (Source: M.K. Sembiring in The Bible Translator 1992, p. 217ff.)

The Chilcotin translators tried to circumvent specifying who of the two is older, even though the language also uses age-specific terms for siblings. In Mark 1:16, they have used the generic term ˀelhcheliqi (“brother” without specifying who is older). (Source: Quindel King)

See also James / John (relative age).

Joab the son of Zeruiah

The Hebrew that is translated as “Joab (also: Abishai) the son of Zeruiah” in English presented a problem in Mano (Mann). “In a patriarchal society like Mano, Zeruiah is assumed to be the father of Joab. Since we know that she was his mother (see 2Sam 17:25), we expressed this phrase as ‘Joab whose mother was Zeruiah.'”

In Batak Karo Zeruiah has to be identified as a woman. M.K. Sembiring (in The Bible Translator 1991, p. 217ff.) explains: “Unlike the Hebrew language, nouns in Batak Karo have no gender. The literal translation of the biblical names therefore does not indicate whether they are female or male names. Names are generally understood as male names when they occur in expressions like ‘the son of…’ or ‘the daughter of…,’ because in the Karo culture, if ever the names of the parents are mentioned, it is usually the name of the father that is used in identifying the children. For example, 1 Sam 26:6 says, ‘Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Zeruiah,’Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” In Hebrew, Zeruiah will be recognized as a female name because of its ending, but in Karo the name will be considered as a male name for the reason given above. It is necessary then to identify Zeruiah as a female name by saying that Zeruiah was the mother of Joab and Abishai. The translation of the first part of that verse into Batak Karo is as follows,’Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai (the mother of these two is Zeruiah)…'”