wild honey

The Greek that is translated as “wild honey” in English was difficult to translate in Toba and Iyojwa’ja Chorote.

Bill Mitchell (in Omanson 2001, p. 435) explains why: “Unlike urban, industrialized society, the indigenous way of life is inextricably linked with the land. A deep relationship with nature permeates all of life. This can sometimes be seen in the wealth of vocabulary for certain items. Mark 1:6 and Matthew 3:4 state that John the Baptist ate ‘wild honey.’ The Tobas of northern Argentina have ten different words for ‘wild honey,’ the Chorotes have seven or eight. The biblical text does not specify a type of wild honey, but Toba translators live in the Gran Chaco and harvest wild honey. They want to use the exact word; they do not have a generic term.”

In both cases the translators ended up using the most common term for “wild honey.”

In Balinese, “wild honey” is translated as “honey of bees who shut out the sun” (source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1950 p. 75ff.) and in Shipibo-Conibo as “bee liquid” (source: James Lauriault in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 32ff.).


The Greek transliteration of the Aramaic kanan (קַנָאַן) has the same meaning than the Greek zēlōtḗs (Ζηλωτὴν) (see Zealot) but is often transliterated itself in English Bible translations as “Cananaean” or similar. Some modern English translations, however, translate the Aramaic form identical to the way they translate the Greek term in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13. The Good News Bible (publ. 1966/1976), for instance, uses “Patriot” for both and the Contemporary English Version (publ. 1995) uses “Eager One.”

Likewise, Yakan translates it as “challenger” in both cases and Kankanaey as “Patriota because he had-concern-for his country.”

In Iyojwa’ja Chorote, the translation for the Aramaic term is “one who fought against the Romans who had made themselves chiefs of the Jews” (and for the Greek: “who belonged the parties of the Zealots.”) (Source: Roger Omanson in The Bible Translator 1989. p. 416ff.)