The Greek that is translated as “tent-maker” in English is translated as “work of sewing heavy cloth to become cloth houses” in Teutila Cuicatec, “work to make the houses of canvas in order to sell” in San Mateo del Mar Huave, as “they made cloth houses to sell” in Morelos Nahuatl, or as “make big cloth houses” in Lalana Chinantec. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

uneducated and ordinary men

The Greek that is translated as “uneducated and ordinary men” or similar in English is translated in the following ways:

  • Lalana Chinantec: “people who were not learned, humble people
  • Morelos Nahuatl: “hadn’t studied a lot but were like anybody”
  • Chichimeca-Jonaz: “had not studied long in school, truly ordinary people, that is not officials”
  • Chuj: “they had never studied, they were plain people”
  • Teutila Cuicatec: “were not from important families and didn’t know paper (= didn’t have education)”
  • Totontepec Mixe: “they talked like people who plow” 8(source for this and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

raise up children for his brother

The Greek that is translated as “raise up children for his brother” or similar in English is translated in Copainalá Zoque as “have children with her who will carry on the older brother’s name,” in Central Tarahumara as “those children are to be as though they were the dead brother’s children,” in Teutila Cuicatec as “he is to have children with her so that in this way his brother’s race will not end,” in Tzotzil as “so that she will have a child who will bear the name of his late brother,” and in Southern Puebla Mixtec as “be like the children of the dead.” (Source: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.)

foot’s length

The Greek that is translated as “(not even a) foot’s length” or “(not even enough to) set a foot on” is translated in Paicî with an existing local idiom: “(not even) the dirt from under one of our fingernails.” (Source: Ian Flaws)

In Teutila Cuicatec it is translated as “not even so much as enough to place one of his feet on.” (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 is with / lives with one”
  • Shipibo-Conibo: “the Holy Spirit permeates one” (using a term said of medicines)
  • Cuyonon: “one is 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 stays in one”
  • Tae’ (translation of 1933): “one carries the Holy Spirit in his inner being” (source for this and all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
  • Yamba and Bulu: “the Holy Spirit filled one’s heart” (source: W. Reyburn in The Bible Translator 1959, p. 1ff.)
  • Rincón Zapotec: “the Holy Spirit comes to be completely with one”
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “one walks with the Holy Spirit of God”
  • Chuj: “God’s Spirit enters into one”
  • Morelos Nahuatl: “the Holy Spirit enters one’s heart to rule”
  • Teutila Cuicatec: “God’s Spirit possesses one” / “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.)
  • Yawa: “God’s Spirit gives one power” (source: Larry Jones)

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.”

Note that Cheyenne also uses the term for “wear” in these instances. (Source: Wayne Leman)

See also Holy Spirit.

everything they owned was held in common

The Greek that is translated as “everything they owned was held in common” or similar in English is translated as “no one said, ‘This is mine.’ They owned everything together” in Isthmus Mixe, as “not one of them considered their things apart, because they considered their things as if they belonged to all of them” in Teutila Cuicatec, as “there was no person who said that one thing was his alone. But everything of theirs one only its thusness by them all” in Chuj. (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)


The Hebrew and the Greek that are translated in English versions as “prophesy” are translated into Anuak as “sing a song” (source: Loren Bliese), into Balanta-Kentohe as “passing on message of God” (source: Rob Koops), and into Ixcatlán Mazatec with a term that does not only refer to the future, but is “speak on behalf of God” (source: Robert Bascom).

Other translations include: “God making someone to show something in advance” (Ojitlán Chinantec), “God causing someone to think and then say it” (Aguaruna), “speaking God’s thoughts” (Shipibo-Conibo), “God made someone say something” “Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac) (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125), “proclaim God’s message” (Teutila Cuicatec), “speak for God” (Chichimeca-Jonaz), “preach the Word of God” (Lalana Chinantec), “speak God’s words” (Tepeuxila Cuicatec), “that which God’s Spirit will cause one to say one will say” (Mayo) (source for this and four above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.), and “say what God wants people to hear” (tell people God wod dat e gii oona fa say) (Gullah) (source: Robert Bascom).

In Luang it is translated with different shades of meaning:

  • For Acts 3:18, 3:21, 3:25: nurwowohora — “mouth says words that don’t come from one’s own mind.” (“This term refers to an individual’s speaking words that are not his because either a good or bad spirit is at work through him. The speaker is not in control of himself.”)
  • For Acts 19:6, Acts 21:9: nakotnohora — “talk about.” (“The focus of this term is on telling God’s message for the present as opposed to the future.”)
  • For Acts 21:11: rora — “foretell” (“The focus of this term is giving God’s message concerning the future. The person who speaks is aware of what he is doing and he is using his own mind, yet it is with God’s power that he foretells the future.”)

Source: Kathy Taber in Notes on Translation 1/1999, p. 9-16.

See also prophet and prophesy / prophetic frenzy.


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.)