cast lots

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.)
  • Lacandon: “play with small stones in order to see who was going to win” (source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

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.)

tent of testimony

The Greek that is translated as “tent of testimony” or similar in English is translated as “a leather house which they could pack up again, where they remembered God” in Lalana Chinantec, as “cloth house where they worshipped God” in Eastern Highland Otomi, as “cloth house where God spoke to the people” in Chichimeca-Jonaz, as “house of God where they kept the stones on which were written the commandments of God” in Morelos Nahuatl, as “small holy house which was of the skins of animals, in it were the stones which contained the ten commandments” in San Mateo del Mar Huave, and “inside this church the slates on which God’s law was written were kept” Teutila Cuicatec. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

has not overcome it

The Greek that is translated as “has not overcome it” in English is translated in Lalana Chinantec as “was not able to extinguish the light, no matter how dark it was where the rays were shining.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

Cyprus, island

The Greek that is transliterated as “Cyprus” in English is translated more specifically as “the island of Cyprus” in some languages. Eastern Highland Otomi for instance has “the land of Cyprus, the little land it sits in the water,” Morelos Nahuatl has “the land-rise of Cyprus,” or Lalana Chinantec has “land in the middle of the water which is called Cyprus.” (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

See also complete verse (Acts 13:4) and Samothrace.

right hand of

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” or “heart-strengthens me,” in Isthmus Mixe as “stays with 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)

Sovereign Lord

The Greek that is translated in English as “Sovereign Lord” is translated as “you who are Chief, you own all of us, truly you are God” in Chichimeca-Jonaz, as “Big Father, you are God” in Isthmus Mixe, as “my Lord who is the greatest” in Lalana Chinantec, as “our Lord, he who is greatest before us” in Ayutla Mixtec, as “you, Lord God, who is very great” in Tepeuxila Cuicatec, as “you, the Lord able to do all things” in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac, or “God our Father, you are our Boss, the biggest” Tataltepec Chatino. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

exorcist

The Greek that is translated as “exorcist” in English is translated as “people who said that they had the power to take out the demons from the people” in San Mateo del Mar Huave, as “people who understand magic words” in Lalana Chinantec, as “witch doctors” in Isthmus Mixe, and as “men casting out evil spirits” in Teutila Cuicatec. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

filled with the Holy Spirit, full with the Holy Spirit

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 (in one’s head and heart) 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.

does not dwell in houses made with hands

The Greek that is translated as “does not dwell in houses made with hands” in English is translated in does not dwell in Palantla Chinantec as “it isn’t as though men are capable of building a house where he will live,” in Tenango Otomi as “doesn’t reside in churches made by people,” in Lalana Chinantec as “it isn’t a house that people made where God lives. He lives up in heaven,” in Morelos Nahuatl as “does not really live in churches that we made with our hands,” and in Teutila Cuicatec as “it is not necessary for God….to live inside churches that people build.” (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

to testify to the light

The Greek that is translated as “to testify to the light” or similar in English is translated in Lalana Chinantec as “in order to tell people that the light of God had become visible.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

northeaster

The Greek that is translated as “But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster (or: Euroclydon), rushed down from Crete” or similar in English is translated in a lot of different ways:

  • Upper Guinea Crioulo: “A great storm rose up on the side of the island that came against them.” (“The point wasn’t the name of the wind [nor’easter]. All of these nautical terms can be difficult for people who aren’t seafaring. The point wasn’t so much which cardinal direction the wind was coming from. The point was that the wind was coming from a direction that made it impossible for them to go in the direction they wanted to go. This is further explained in the following verse.”) (Source: David Frank)
  • Caluyanun: “Not long-afterward, the wind from the aminhan/northeast got-strong, which was from the land-area of the island of Crete.” (“’Aminhan’ is the common direction of the wind during half the year.”) (Source: Kermit Titrud)
  • Northern Emberá: “But soon a bad wind called the Euroclidon blew forcefully from the right hand.” (“When we have to specify north and south we use left hand and right hand, respectively. But in Acts 27:14, the Northeaster wind comes from the right, hitting the right side of the ship as they headed west.”) (Source: Chaz Mortensen)
  • Amele: “But shortly a strong wind called Jawalti blowing from the direction of the sun coming up to the left came up.” (“East is cam tobec isec ‘the direction the sun comes up’ and west is cam tonec/nec isec ‘the direction the sun goes/comes down.’ ‘Jawalti’ is a local name for the wind that blows down from the north coast of Madang. ‘Sea corner’ is the Amele term for ‘harbour‘”) (Source: John Roberts)
  • Mairasi: “But after not a very long time at all already a very big wind blew from behind us. In Greek that wind is called ‘Eurokulon’ from over there in the north and east. It blew down from that island itself.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Kankanaey: “But it wasn’t long, a swift wind arrived from the upper-part of Creta.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And it wasn’t a long time from then, we were typhooned. A very strong wind arrived which was called Abagat. The wind came from the direction of the land.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But before we had been sailing for long, suddenly/unexpectedly the wind changed again to an off-shore wind of tremendous strength. Euraclidon was what the people from there called that wind.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Uma: “But in fact not long after that, a big wind came from the land, a wind called Sea Storm.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But not long after, a very strong wind blew from the coast.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)

See also cardinal directions / left and right and cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).

Other translation for the wind include “fierce wind” (Teutila Cuicatec), “wind with very much power” Eastern Highland Otomi), “violent wind” (Lalana Chinantec), or “big wind” (Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac). (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)