The Greek that is translated in English as “baptize with the Holy Spirit” is translated in Ixcatlán Mazatec as “(baptize so that) the Holy Spirit will come upon/enter you” (source: Robert Bascom) and in Mairasi as “wash with the Holy Spirit” (“water” baptism is “wash with water”) (source: Enggavoter 2004).
Other languages translate as follows:
- Rincón Zapotec: “be baptized with the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit will come to be with you”
- Teutila Cuicatec: “God’s Holy Spirit will possess you”
- Chuj: “God’s Spirit will be given to you”
- Mezquital Otomi: “be baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit”
- Mayo: “receive the Holy Spirit in the same way you receive baptism”
- Lalana Chinantec: “the Great Spirit will enter your hearts” (Source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
See also Holy Spirit and baptism / baptize.
The Greek that is translated in English as “hanging him on a tree” in English is translated as “crucified on a cross” in Teutila Cuicatec), as “put him on a tree” in Lalana Chinantec, as “fastened him on a tree made into a cross” in Chichimeca-Jonaz, as “on a cross” in Morelos Nahuatl, or “hang on a cross” in Chuj. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
See also crucify.
The Hebrew that is translated as “insects that fly” or “swarming insects” in English is translated as “small animals with wings like flies” in Mam, “insects that fly in big groups” in Chuj, and “animals that fly and have more than two legs” in Kaqchikel. None of these languages has a pre-existing category for insects.
See also birds of the air / fish of the sea.
The Greek that is translated as “amazed and astonished” or similar in English is translated as “remained speechless and marveled” in Morelos Nahuatl, “their thinking went round and round” in Coatlán Mixe, “They lost their abdomens. They stared very much” in Chuj, and “it startled them and they were thinking it over inside their hearts” in Chichimeca-Jonaz. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
See also amazed / astonished / marvel.
The narrative in Nehemiah 2:12-15 mentions that Nehemiah is accompanied by a number of other people. Yet, the verb forms (and pronouns) in this and the preceding verses are all singular in the Hebrew text. In the Chuj translation everything is retold in plural forms, except the verb forms of “inspect” in verses 13 and 15 since Nehemiah “had not confided in the men what his plans are, so presumably only he is inspecting walls.”
For the Mam on the other hand, translation consultant and the translators reached a different decision: “The team and I discussed this issue in depth and concluded that the level of leadership of the other men was so extremely low (they are only mentioned once and were not even aware of the purpose of the trip) that the singulars could stand.”
The Greek that is often translated as “proselyte” in English is translated in various ways:
- Isthmus Mixe: “those that entered the mind of the Israelites”
- Desano: “people who are of the same religion as the Jews”
- San Mateo del Mar Huave: “people who were not Jews but have come to believe as the Jewish people believe”
- Isthmus Mixe: “those who entered the mind of the Israelites”
- Mayo: “those who live according to Jewish custom”
- Teutila Cuicatec: “people from other nations who believe the same as those of the nation of Israel”
- Chuj: “those who have received the religion of the Israel people”
- Morelos Nahuatl: “those who entered the religion of the Jews”
- Lalana Chinantec: “those who worship God as the Israel people do”
- Chichimeca-Jonaz: “those who joined with the Jews because they went to believing like them”
- Falam Chin: “those who entered/joined the Jews’ religious party from other tribes” (source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
The Greek and Hebrew that is typically translated as “(to the) right hand of” is often translated much more descriptively in other languages. In Yakan it is translated as “at the right side, here in the greatest/most important/most honored place/seat,” in Mezquital Otomi as “the right hand, at the place of honor,” in Chuj as “exalted at the right hand,” in Chichimeca-Jonaz as “in a high place there at the right,” in Lalana Chinantec as “make great,” in Isthmus Mixe as “given great authority,” in Morelos Nahuatl as “placed big,” in Isthmus Mixe as “stays with me,” in Morelos Nahuatl as “heart-strengthens me” (source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August, 1966, p. 86ff), and in Teutila Cuicatec as “in all authority at the right side” (source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.).
In Lamnso’, the seat on the right-hand side signifies that the person seated there would have a higher position than the one to his left (vs. just being a seat of honor). To circumvent any misunderstanding of the biblical text, the translation here refers to the “highest seat next to God.” (Source: Karl Grebe in Holzhausen 1991, p. 52)
The Greek that is translated as “casting” or “drawing lots” in English is often translated with a specific idiom, such as “to take out bamboo slips” — 掣 籤 chè qiān (in most Chinese Bibles), “each to pick-up which is-written (i.e. small sticks inscribed with characters and used as slots)” (Batak Toba), a term for divination by means of reed stalks (Toraja-Sa’dan).
In some cases a cultural equivalent is not available, or it is felt to be unsuitable in this situation, e.g. in Ekari where “to spin acorns” has the connotation of gambling, one may have to state the fact without mentioning the means, e.g. “it came to him,” (source for this and all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel). In Shipibo-Conibo there was no equivalent for “casting lots” so the translation for Mark 15:24 is descriptive: “they shook little things to decide what each one should take” (source: Nida 1952, p. 47).
Other solutions include:
- Purari: “throw shells” (source: David Clark)
- Kwara’ae (in Acts 1:26) “they played something like dice to find out who of the two God chose (God revealed his will that way)” (source: Carl Gross)
- Navajo: “draw straws”
- Yatzachi Zapotec “raffle”
- Chol “choose by a game” (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125)
- Chichimeca-Jonaz: “threw one or two little hard things that had a sign…to see which person it would be”
- Kekchí: “tried with luck
- Lalana Chinantec: “there were little things they played with that made evident who it would be who would be lucky”
- Chuj: “entered luck upon them”
- Ayutla Mixtec: “put out luck” (Source for this and five above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
In North Alaskan Inupiatun a term for “gambling” is used. The same Inupiatun term is also used in Esther 3:7, “though there winning and losing is not in view, but rather choosing by chance” (source: Robert Bascom)
The stand-alone term that is translated “lots” in English is translated as “two pieces of potsherd” in Highland Totonac. (Source: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.)
The Greek that is translated as “cut to the heart” or “hearts were troubled” or alike in English is translated as “it entered squeezing in their spirits” in Chuj. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
The Greek that is translated in English as “fellowship” or “communion” is translated in Huba as daɓǝkǝr: “joining heads.” (Source: David Frank in this blog post)
Other translations include: “they were very happy since they were with their brothers” (Lalana Chinantec), “always well they talk together” (Chichimeca-Jonaz), “were at peace with each other” (Chuj), “they accompanied the other believers” (San Mateo del Mar Huave, “they were united together” (Ayutla Mixtec), “their hearts were happy because they all thought alike” (Eastern Highland Otomi). (Source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
The Greek that is rendered in English as “filled with the Holy Spirit” or “full with the Holy Spirit” is translated in various ways:
- Tboli: “the Holy Spirit shall be with him,”
- Shipibo-Conibo: “the Holy Spirit shall permeate him” (using a term said of medicines)
- Cuyonon: “he shall be under the control of the Holy Spirit” (esp. Luke 4:1, Acts 7:55, Acts 11:24)
- Ngäbere: “the full strength of the Holy Spirit shall stay in him”
- Tae’ (translation of 1933): “he shall carry the Holy Spirit in his inner being” (source for this and all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
- Yamba and Bulu: “the Holy Spirit filled their hearts” (source: W. Reyburn in The Bible Translator 1959, p. 1ff.)
- Rincón Zapotec: “the Holy Spirit come to be completely with them”
- Eastern Highland Otomi: “they all walked with the Holy Spirit of God”
- Chuj: “God’s Spirit entered into all of them”
- Morelos Nahuatl: “the Holy Spirit entered everyone’s heart to rule”
- Teutila Cuicatec: “God’s Spirit possessed all of them” / “in all the authority of the Holy Spirit”
- Isthmus Mixe: “have the Holy Spirit very much” or “Holy Spirit enter one completely”
- Lalana Chinantec: “One’s heart really obeyed what the Holy Spirit wanted”
- Chichimeca-Jonaz: “one’s heart full of God’s Holy Spirit” (source for this and seven above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
The following story is relayed by Martha Duff Tripp as she led the translation of the New Testament into Yanesha’ (p. 310):
I continue to work with Casper Mountain [an Yanesha’ translator] on translation. As we start the book of Luke, we run into another problem. In Chapter 1, verse 15, the text reads (speaking of John the Baptist), “and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Amueshas [Yanesha’s] have never associated their word for “fill” with anything except pots and baskets. How can a person be “filled”? Even their word for a full stomach is not the word for “fill.” We talk together about what “filled with the Holy Spirit” means (obsessed with or possessed by). The thought comes to me of what the Amueshas [Yanesha’s] say about the shaman. They say that he can “wear” the spirit of the tiger, that they can tell when he is wearing the tiger spirit because he then will act like a tiger. Their word for “wear” is the same word as to “wear or put on a garment.” Can this possibly be the way to say “filled with God’s Spirit”? As I cautiously question Casper about this, his face lights up immediately. “Yes, that is the way we would say it, he is ’wearing’ God’s Holy Spirit.”
See also Holy Spirit.
The Greek that is translated “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” or similar in English is translated as “receive the gift of God which is the Holy Spirit” in Eastern Highland Otomi, “God will give his Spirit to you” in Chuj, “God will cause his Holy Spirit to possess you” in Teutila Cuicatec, “the Holy Spirit will come into your souls with his power” in Desano, “you will receive the Holy Spirit, Father God will give you that” in San Mateo del Mar Huave, and “God will send the Holy Spirit to live with you” Mezquital Otomi. (Source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
See also Receive the Holy Spirit.