The Greek that is translated as “ponder” in English is translated as “continually think-about” in Tboli, “turn around in the mind” in Batak Toba, “puzzle forth, puzzle back” in Sranan Tongo (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), “constantly setting down her visions” in Mairasi (source: Enggavoter 2004), “carried all those words in her heart and then sat thinking” in Enga (source: Adam Boyd on his blog), or “moved them in her heart” (bewegte sie in ihrem Herzen) (German Luther translation).
Newman / Nida describe some of the difficulties surrounding the translation of the Greek “Logos” which is typically translated as “Word” in English (click or tap here to read more):
“The term ‘the Word’ has a rich heritage, by way of both its Greek and Jewish backgrounds. For the Greeks who held to a theistic view of the universe, it could be understood as the means by which God reveals himself to the world, while among those who were pantheistic in outlook, the Word was the principle that held the world together and at the same time endowed men with the wisdom for living. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint), the Word could be used both of the means by which God had created the world (Ps 33:6) and through which he had revealed himself to the world (Jer 1:4; Ezek 1:3; Amos 3:1). Among certain of the Greek-speaking Jews of New Testament times, there was much speculation about the ‘wisdom’ of God, which God ‘made in the very beginning, at the first, before the world began’ (Prov 8:22-23). (…) By the time that John writes his Gospel, the Word is close to being recognized as a personal being, and it has roles relating to the manner in which God created the world and to the way in which God reveals himself to the world that he brought into being. Moffatt [whose English translation of the New Testament was published in 1913], realizing the difficulty in finding a term equivalent in meaning to the one used by John, transliterates the Greek term: ‘the Logos existed in the very beginning’ [see also Hart’s translation below]; while Phillips [New Testament translation published in 1958] at least makes an effort to give his translation meaning: ‘at the beginning God expressed himself.’
“Though the Greek term logos may be rendered ‘word,’ it would be wrong to think it indicates primarily a grammatical or lexical unit in a sentence. Greek has two other terms which primarily identify individual words, whether they occur in a list (as in a dictionary) or in a sentence. The term logos, though applicable to an individual word, is more accurately understood as an expression with meaning; that is, it is ‘a message,’ ‘a communication,’ and, as indicated, a type of ‘revelation.’ A literal translation, therefore, more or less equivalent to English ‘word,’ is frequently misleading.
“In some languages there are additional complications. For example, in some languages the term ‘word’ is feminine in gender, and therefore any reference to it must also be feminine [or neuter — see German below]. As a result, the possible use of pronouns in reference to Jesus Christ can be confusing. Furthermore, in many languages a term such as ‘word’ must be possessed. One cannot speak about ‘the word’ without indicating who spoke the word, since words do not exist apart from the persons who utter them.
“Because of these and other difficulties, many translators treat the term ‘Word’ or Logos as a title, and that is precisely what it is. The very fact that it is normally capitalized in English translations marks it as a title; but in many languages the fact of its being a title must be more clearly indicated by some explicit expression, for example, ‘the one who was called the Word’ [see Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac below] or ‘the one known as the Word’ [see German below] In this way the reader can understand from the beginning that ‘Word’ is to be understood as a designation for a person.
“Therefore, this first sentence in John 1:1 may be rendered ‘Before the world was created, the one who was known as the Word existed’ or ‘… the person called the Word existed.’ In languages which employ honorific forms it is particularly appropriate to use such an indication with the title ‘Word.’ Such a form immediately marks the designation as the title of deity or of a very important personage, depending, of course, upon the usage in the language in question.”
Translation for “Logos” include:
- Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac: “the one who is called the Word”
- Sayula Popoluca: “the Word by which God is known”
- Miahuatlán Zapotec: “one who revealed God’s thoughts”
- Alekano: “God’s wise Speech”
- Tojolabal: “he who told us about God” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February, 1970, p. 1-125.)
- Yatzachi Zapotec: “Jesus Christ the person who is the Word, he who gives eternal life”
- Eastern Highland Otomi: “the Word that gives new life to our hearts”
- Garifuna: “the one named Word, the one who gives life” (Source for this and two above: John Beekman in Notes on Translation 12, November 1964, p. 1ff.)
- Tzeltal de Oxchuc y Tenejapa (Highland Tzeltal): te C’opile: “the Word” (in a new, 2001 version of the New Testament to avoid the previous translation “the Word of God,” a term also used for “Bible.” — Source: Robert Bascom)
- Mairasi: “The Message” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
- German: Er, der ‘das Wort’ ist: “He who is ‘the Word'” — this solution circumvents the different gender of Jesus (masculine) and “das Wort” (neuter) (in: Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch, 3rd edition: 1997)
- Anindilyakwa: Originally translated as N-ayakwa-murra or “he having the properties of a word/message/language.” Since this was not understandable, it is now “Jesus Christ, the one who revealed God who was hidden from us” (Source: Julie Waddy in The Bible Translator 2004, p. 452ff.)
- Kwang: “He who is called ‘The reality (lit: the body) of the Word of God himself’” (source: Mark Vanderkooi)
- Tonga: Folofola: “Originally, the term is used in the kingly language and is related to the meaning of unrolling the mat, an indispensable item in Tongan traditions. The mats, especially those with beautiful and elaborate designs, are usually rolled up and kept carefully until the visit of a guest to the house. The term thus evokes to the Tongans the idea of God’s Word being unrolled to reveal his love and salvation for mankind.” (Source: Joseph Hong in The Bible Translator 1994, p. 329ff.)
Ajië: Nô (click or tap here to read an explanation by Maurice Leenhardt — in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 154ff.):
“There are other words that the learned translators of the West have in vain tried to render into rich tongues as French or Latin. They found obscure expressions for the common ‘word’ or ‘speech’ (…) It would seem that these words would present insurmountable difficulties for the translator in primitive languages. Missionaries of the Loyalty Islands could not find the word to translate ‘Word,’ nor have they imagined that there could be a corresponding term in the native language. They simply introduced the Greek word into the vocabulary, pronouncing it in the native fashion, ‘In the beginning the Logos’. These people are intelligent; and do not appreciate pronouncing words which make no sense whatsoever. However, when a Caledonian speaks French, he translates his thoughts as they seem to him the most adequate. He can easily express himself relative to the man who has conceived good things, has said them, or done them. He simply describes such a person as, ‘The word of this man is good’. Thought, speech, and action are all included in the New Caledonian term no. In speaking of an adulterous man one may say, ‘He has done an evil word’. One may speak of a chief who does not think, order, or act correctly as, ‘His word is not good’. The expression ‘the Word of God’ is limited in our speech to meaning of the divine Scriptures, but in New Caledonian it includes the thoughts and acts of God, ‘God said and it was done’. The New Caledonian has no difficulty in seeing the Word becoming action, becoming flesh, the word becoming a physical reality. Our deceased colleague Laffay once said: ‘I prefer to read John in the Ajië rather than in French’.
The recent English New Testament translation by David Bentley Hart (2017), that uses the transliteration Logos for the Greek Λόγος, says this about its translation (p. 549p.): “In certain special instances it is quite impossible for a translator to reduce [Λόγος] to a single word in English, or in any other tongue (though one standard Chinese version of the Bible renders logos in the prologue of John’s Gospel as 道 (tao), which is about as near as any translation could come to capturing the scope and depth of the word’s religious, philosophical, and metaphoric associations in those verses, while also carrying the additional meaning of “speech” or “discourse”).”
Below you can find some background of this remarkable Chinese translation (click or tap here to read more):
Dao 道, which developed into a central concept of classical Chinese philosophy, originally carried the meaning of “path” and “(main) road.” From there it developed into “leading” and “teaching” as well as “say” and “speak.”
As early as the 7th century BC, however, dao appears with the meaning “method.” With this and the derived meaning of “the (right) way” and “moral principle,” dao became one of the central concepts of the Confucian writings.
In Daoist writings (especially in the Daodejing), dao goes far beyond the Confucian meaning to take on creative qualities.
With this new compendium of meaning, the term became suitable for numerous foreign religions to represent central points of their doctrine, including Buddhism (as a translation for bodhi — “enlightenment”), Judaism (similar to the Confucians as the “right [Jewish] way”), and Islam (likewise the “right [Muslim] way”).
The Jesuits, who had intensively dealt with Confucianism from the 16th century on, also took over dao as the “correct (Catholic) way,” and the so-called Figurists, a group of Jesuits in the 18th century who saw the Messianic figure of Jesus Christ outlined in Chinese history, went so far as to point to the existence of John’s Logos in the dao of Daodejing.
In later Catholic Bible translations, dao was rarely used as a translation for Logos; instead, the Latin Verbum (from the Latin Vulgate) was transliterated, or yan 言 — “language”, “meaning” — was used, usually with the prefix sheng 圣 — “holy” (also used by the Russian Orthodox Church).
Protestant translations, however, began to use dao as a translation for Logos in the 1830s and have largely retained this practice to this day.
Some voices went so far as to describe Logos and dao as a point of contact between Christianity and the Chinese religions. By its gradual shaping in Greek and Jewish philosophy, Logos had become an appropriate “word vessel.” Similarly, dao’s final formation in Daodejing had also assumed the necessary capacity to serve as a translation for Logos.
The origins of dao and Logos have some clear differences, not the least being the personal relationship of Logos as the Son of God with God the Father. But it is remarkable that using dao as the translation of Logos emulates John’s likely intention with the use of Logos: the central concept of the philosophical and religious ideas of the target culture was used to translate the central concept of Christian theology.
This was not possible in the case of European cultures, which for the most part have offered only translations such as Word or Verbum, terms without any prior philosophical or religious meaning. Only advanced civilizations like China — or ancient Greece — were able to accomplish that. (Summarized version of: Zetzsche, Jost. Aspekte der chinesischen Bibelübersetzung. R. Malek (ed.) Fallbeispiel China. Beiträge zur Religion, Theologie und Kirche im chinesischen Kontext. Nettetal: Steyler Verlag, 1996.)
Peng Kuo-Wei adds this perspective (in Noss / Houser, p. 885): “The Chinese term chosen for logos is not hua (‘word’ or ‘utterance’) but dao from which the term ‘Taoism’ is derived and which can denote a general principle, a way (concrete or abstract), or reason. Thus, Chinese readers can understand that the dao of God is not just words spoken by God, but it constitutes the guiding salvific principle underlying the whole biblical account, including his action in history and teaching and action of Jesus whom he sent. Jesus is the dao of God because his ministry, death and resurrection comprises the fulfillment and realization of God’s theological and ethical principles for humanity.”
The Greek text that describes the city of the New Jerusalem in terms of jewels and other precious materials is translated in the German New Testament translation of Klaus Berger and Christiane Nord (publ. 2005) by using color references: “The city wall is made of jasper, and the city itself of gold that is as pure as glass. The foundations of the city wall are of great beauty, for they are built out of precious stones in many different colours. The first foundation-stone is jasper, the second blue sapphire, the third red agate, the fourth light green emerald, the fifth reddish brown onyx, the sixth yellowish red carnelian, the seventh yellow-gold quartz, the eighth beryl as green as the sea, the ninth shining yellow topaz, the tenth chalcedony, shimmering green-golden, the eleventh deep red jacinth, the twelfth purple amethyst. The twelve gates are twelve pearls, each gate is made from a single pearl. The main street of the city is of gold as shining as glass.” (for the German version see below.)
Chistiane Nord (in Open Theology 2016; 2: p. 566ff.) explains: “One of the purposes of this passage is certainly a referential-descriptive one. John sees the city in a vision and describes it to his readers. The referential function of this rather technical description works quite well for most readers, and certainly best for those with a specialist knowledge of precious and semi-precious stones. But apart from the referential purpose, the author may have had the intention to express his admiration for the city he has seen. Asked about their associations when reading or listening to the text, most people answer that they are thinking of the enormous value represented by the gold and the stones.
“This, again, is a rather modern perspective. We might wonder why a follower of Jesus, who showed so much contempt for ‘the world’ and its riches himself, would precisely describe his vision of God’s ‘new creation’ as something so rich in material terms. Precisely the great variety of different stones would seem to suggest that perhaps the author’s focus might have been rather on the colours than on the value. On the grounds of the assumption that his addressees knew the colours of all the stones he is describing, he need not mention them explicitly. But if modern translators want their target audience to share the author’s admiration of the beauty and colourfulness of his vision, they would have to make explicit what is implicit in the text. (…) Here it becomes clear that the text has also an expressive-evaluative or emotive function apart from the referential one. But even the expressive purpose may not be the most important one. The vision of the New Jerusalem is presented at the end of last book of the Christian Bible, following the horrors of the apocalypse, and it seems to be the absolute culmination of the Christian message. We may assume, therefore, that there is also an appellative purpose underlying the text, since the New Jerusalem presents the ideal of God’s new creation, for which a large number of martyrs through history were prepared to give their lives. An appellative intention cannot be carried out by a technical description -– for this purpose, we definitely need to know the colours. Therefore, our translation makes explicit the colours. Some critics found that this procedure reduces the poetic effect of the passage. However, the use of adjective compounds to describe the different shades of the stones (e.g., gelbrot, “yellow-red”, or meergrün, “ocean-green”, glasrein, “glass-pure”) is intended to compensate for any loss in poeticity.”
The text in German: Die Stadtmauer ist aus Jaspis erbaut, die Stadt selbst aus glasreinem Gold. Die Fundamente der Stadtmauer sind von großer Schönheit, denn sie bestehen aus verschiedenfarbenen Edelsteinen. Das erste Fundament ist aus grünlichem Jaspis, das zweite aus blauem Saphir, das dritte aus rotem Chalzedon, das vierte aus hellgrünem Smaragd, das fünfte aus rotbraunem Sardonyx, das sechste aus gelbrotem Carneol, das siebte aus goldgelbem Chrysolit, das achte aus meergrünem Beryll, das neunte aus gelbglänzendem Topas, das zehnte aus goldgrün schimmerndem Chrysopras, das elfte aus dunkelrotem Hyazinth, das zwölfte aus purpurnem Amethyst. Die zwölf Tortürme sind zwölf Perlen, jeder Torturm besteht aus einer einzigen Perle, und die Hauptstraße der Stadt ist aus glasreinem Gold.
Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.
And it was, at the priests’ going out from the Holy-Place,
that the cloud filled the House of Yhwh,
and the priests were not able to stand to attend because of the cloud,
for the Glory of Yhwh had filled the House of Yhwh.
Source: Everett Fox 1995
Es geschah, als die Priester aus dem Heiligtum ausgefahren waren:
die Wolke füllte Sein Haus,
nicht vermochten die Priester zu stehn um zu amten, wegen der Wolke,
denn Seine Erscheinung füllte Sein Haus.
Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976
Et c’est à la sortie des desservants du sanctuaire,
la nuée remplit la maison de IHVH-Adonaï.
Les desservants ne peuvent se tenir pour officier en face de la nuée,
oui, la gloire de IHVH-Adonaï remplit la maison de IHVH-Adonaï.
Source: Chouraqui 1985
The Hebrew ’ishshah for “woman” and ’ish for “man” is a clear play on words. In English the terms “man” and “woman” naturally simulate that play on words (Moffatt emphasizes this in his 1926 translation by saying “This shall be called Wo-man, for from man was she taken.”)
In the German translations of Luther (all versions) and Menge (1926), this word play is emulated by creating the new term “Männin” which would be the grammatical feminine form of “Mann” (“man”).
Bei dem hebräischen ’ishshah für "Frau" und ’ish für "Mann" handelt es sich um ein Wortspiel. Im Englischen simulieren die gebräuchlichen Begriffe "man" (Mann) und "woman" (Frau) dieses Wortspiel (in der 1926 veröffentlichten Übersetzung von Moffatt wird das folgendermaßen herausgehoben: “This shall be called Wo-man, for from man was she taken.”)
In deutschen Übersetzungen von Luther (alle Versionen) und Menge (1926) wird dieses Wortspiel mit dem eigens dafür geschaffenen Neologismus "Männin" (für "Frau") nachgebildet.
Translator: Jost Zetzsche
The German Good News Bible (Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch) (1st edition: 1968, 2nd edition: 1982, 3rd edition: 1997) says this about the translation of the Greek expressions that in English are often translated as “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” respectively:
“An example for how a term evolved is the rendering of ‘heavenly kingdom’ or ‘kingdom of God.’ A verbatim translation will be misunderstood by most readers today: as if it talks about a kingdom that is located in heaven, when in reality it refers in the Bible to God being the ruler, to that area in which that rule has been realized and everything that human beings can expect because of that. Dependent on the context, the term is therefore translated differently in this present version: When it focuses on the presence of God’s kingdom it is rendered as ‘God establishes his rule’ (‘Gott richtet seine Herrschaft auf’), when the focus is on the future it is translated as ‘Once God finalizes his creation (or ‘work’) . . . ‘ (‘Wenn Gott sein Werk vollendet . . .’), and when the focus is on that finished creation it is ‘God’s new world’ (‘Gottes neue Welt’).” (p. 299)
The respective translation choice in that German translation:
- kingdom (of God / heaven) (presence of God’s rule)
- kingdom (of God / heaven) (God’s finalized creation in the future)
- kingdom (of God / heaven) (God’s new world)
Daud Soesilo writes this about the translation of those terms in the Malay translation:
In the New Testament [of the Revised Malay Translation (Alkitab Berita Baik, 1996)] “the Kingdom of God/Heaven” does not refer primarily to a region, or place, or to a political or national territory.
The meaning of “kingdom” is fundamentally that of “sovereignty” or “rule.” Since the primary idea is that of kingship, kingly rule, or sovereignty of God, rather than of the sphere or realm in which his rule operates, the sense of this term should be expressed in translation as “kingly rule,” “reign,” or “sovereignty,” rather than by the literal “kingdom.” The most common literal translation of the term “Kingdom of God” in Malay is “Kerajaan Allah.” “Kerajaan Syurga” is used for its variant “Kingdom of Heaven.” However, careful linguistic analysis of the meaning and usage of the term “kerajaan” “kingdom” shows that when it is unmarked it carries the following components:
- a territory
- in which a king rules
- his people
Thus the expressions “Kerajaan Allah” and “Kerajaan Syurga” have primarily a territorial sense, rather than expressing the idea of “kingly rule.” This means, then, that we should consider replacing the literal renderings “Kerajaan Allah/Syurga” with expressions that are better able to give the New Testament meaning of “he basileia tau theou,” as expressed in the following components:
- God’s kingly rule, including his activity in bringing about his rule in this world
- the people God rules over, in particular those who accept his rule in their lives,
- the situation in which God rules completely, which is the consummation of God’s activity of bringing about God’s rule. (This is the situation which the German Common Language Bible “Die Gute Nachricht” translates as “God’s New World.” From one point of view, however, this use of the expression is the one that relates most closely to the “territory” sense mentioned above.)
The Malay translation team has tried to render the expression “he basileia tou theou” faithfully and meaningfully according to the main focus in each context in which it occurs. However, to help readers who are looking for the formal features of the term, we have added footnotes that give a literal rendering. (Source: Daud Soesilo in The Bible Translator 2001, p. 239ff.)
(See also Barclay Newman in: The Bible Translator 1974, p. 401ff.)
Likewise in the Gurung translation the term was also, depending on context, rendered in four different ways:
- God’s power at work in the world,
- the personal response to God, in obedience and receiving blessing,
- God’s future open ruling of the world,
- the ultimate blessings of God’s rule in heaven.
(Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff. — here you can also find a comprehensive list of examples where which translation was applied.)
Following is a list of (back-) translations from other languages:
- Tzeltal: “persons like these will reach God’s government” (as in Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16: “the Kingdom of God belongs to those”) or “the jurisdiction of God” (in the sense of where God has the authority)
- Western Kanjobal: “receive God as king”
- Copainalá Zoque: “like God to rule over”
- San Miguel El Grande Mixtec: “agree to God reigning over”
- Kekchí: “power (or authority) of God”
- Laka: “God’s commanding”
- Javanese: “the rule of God”
- Huave: “where God rules”
- Huastec: “God as ruler”
- San Blas Kuna: “God’s government”
- Navajo: “what God has charge of”
- Sayula Popoluca: “to have God rule over”
- Tzotzil: “to have God as chief”
- Highland Puebla Nahuatl: “the leadership of God”
- Wayuu: “where God is chief” (this and examples above in Bratcher / Nida)
- Fuyug “God’s clan”
- Mono: “sana lala’aha nang” – “area of chiefly rule”
- Martu Wangka: “The Father looks after his own relatives” (source for this and the two preceding: Carl Gross)
- Caribbean Javanese: Kratoné Allah (“God’s seat (of a king)”)
- Sranan Tongo: Tiri fur Gado (“the Ruling of God”) or Kownukondre fur Gado (“King’s land of God”)
- Eastern Maroon Creole: A Nyun Tii fu Massa Gadu / Saramaccan: Di Njunjun Tii u Gadu (both: “the New ruling of God”) (source for this and 2 above: Jabini 2015)
Umiray Dumaget Agta: “protectorate of God” (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
In Mairasi, a language “where people would rather say something in a new way than in an old way,” there are a number of translations, including “Great Above One’s (=God) rule,” “His power,” “His control,” or “His place of authority/power.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)
See also your kingdom come.
Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.
Then Eliyyahu said to him:
Pray stay here,
for Yhwh has sent me to the Jordan.
But he said:
By the life of Yhwh and by your own life, if I should leave you. . . !
Thus the two of them walked on.
Now fifty men of the Sons of the Prophets went
and stood opposite, at a distance,
while the two of them stood by the Jordan.
And Eliyyahu took his mantle, folded it up, and struck the waters,
and they split in half, to here and to there,
and the two of them crossed over on dry-ground.
It was when they crossed that Eliyyahu said to Elisha:
Make-request: what may I do for you before I am taken from beside you?
Pray let a twofold measure of your spirit be upon me!
You have made a difficult request.
If you see me being taken from you, it will be thus for you,
but if not, it will not be.
And it was, as they were walking, walking along and speaking
that here, a chariot of fire and horses of fire:
they parted the two of them,
and Eliyyahu went up in the storm to the heavens.
Source: Everett Fox 2014
Elijahu sprach zu ihm:
Verweile doch hier,
denn Er hat mich an den Jordan gesandt.
Er aber sprach:
Sowahr Er lebt, sowahr deine Seele lebt:
verlasse ich dich je, …!
So gingen sie beide.
Mitgegangen aber waren von den Jungkündern fünfzig Mann,
die blieben gegenüber stehn, von fern,
als die beiden am Jordan standen.
Elijahu nahm seinen Mantel,
er ballte ihn
und schlug das Wasser,
das spaltete sich hierhin und hierhin,
auf dem Sandgrund schritten die beiden hindurch.
Es geschah nun, als sie hindurchgeschritten waren,
zu Elischa sprach Elijahu:
was soll ich dir tun,
ehe ich von dir hinweggenommen werde?
Geschähe doch, daß mir würde von deinem Geistbraus das Erstlings-Doppelteil!
Schweres hast du erwünscht!
darfst du mitansehn,
wie ich von dir hinweggenommen werde,
wirds dir so geschehn,
sonst aber: wirds nicht geschehn.
während sie weitergingen, gingen und redeten,
da, Feuergefährt und Feuerrosse,
sie trennten die beiden.
Elijahu stieg im Sturm zum Himmel.
Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976
Élyahou lui dit: « Siège donc là, oui, IHVH-Adonaï m’envoie au Iardèn. »
Il dit: « Vive IHVH-Adonaï, vive ton être, je ne t’abandonnerai pas. »
Ils vont, les deux.
Cinquante hommes, des fils des inspirés, vont et se tiennent en face, de loin.
Les deux se tiennent sur le Iardèn.
Élyahou prend sa cape, l’entortille, frappe les eaux.
Elles se divisent, là et là. Ils passent, les deux, à sec.
Et c’est à leur passage, Élyahou dit à Èlisha‘:
« Demande ce que je ferai pour toi, avant que je sois pris loin de toi. »
Èlisha‘ dit: « Que deux bouches de ton souffle soient donc en moi ! »
Il dit: « Tu es dur en demandes.
Si tu me vois pris loin de toi, pour toi, ce sera oui. Sinon, ce sera non. »
Et c’est eux, ils vont, vont et parlent.
Et voici, un char de feu, des chevaux de feu, séparent les deux.
Élyahou monte, dans la tempête, aux ciels.
Source: Chouraqui 1985
The Greek that is translated with some rendering of “in private” in English versions is translated in most German versions with the idiom unter vier Augen (“under four eyes”) which means “privately” or “confidentially.” (See also the Hebrew equivalent in 2Sam 3:27.)
The Hebrew olah (עֹלָה) originally means “that which goes up (in smoke).” English Bibles often translates it as “burnt-offering” or “whole burnt-offering,” focusing on the aspect of the complete burning of the offering.
The Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate Bibles translate it as holokautōma / holocautōsis (ὁλοκαύτωμα / ὁλοκαύτωσις) and holocaustum, respectively, meaning “wholly burnt.” While a form of this term is widely used in many Romance languages (Spanish: holocaustos, French: holocaustes, Italian: olocausti, Portuguese: holocaustos) and originally also in the Catholic tradition of English Bible translations, it is largely not used in English anymore today (the preface of the revised edition of the Catholic New American Bible of 2011: “There have been changes in vocabulary; for example, the term ‘holocaust’ is now normally reserved for the sacrilegious attempt to destroy the Jewish people by the Third Reich.”)
The English translation of Everett Fox uses offering-up (similarly, the German translation by Buber-Rosenzweig has Darhöhung and the French translation by Chouraqui montée).
See also offering (qorban).
The Hebrew qorbān (קָרְבָּן) originally means “that which is brought near.” Most English Bibles translate it as “offering.” The Hebraic English translation of Everett Fox uses near-offering and likewise the German translation by Buber-Rosenzweig has (the neologism)Darnahung.
See also burnt-offering.
The Greek that is translated as “eye of a needle” in English (and in many Romance and Germanic languages) is rendered variously in different languages:
- “foot of a needle” (Mitla Zapotec)
- “hole in the foot of the needle” (Guerrero Amuzgo)
- “hole of a needle” (Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, French (also: “eye of a needle”), Japanese, Muna)
- “nostril of a needle” (Piro)
- “mouth of a needle” (Hakha Chin)
- “ear of a needle” (Tedim Chin, German, Tsou, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian)
- “nose of a needle” (Lahu)
- “channel of a needle” (Rawang) (source for this all above: Bratcher / Nida and crowdsourced responses on Twitter)
- “loop of the needle” (Tae’) (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
The Greek that is translated as “justified by faith” or similar in English is translated in the German translation of Martin Luther (first edition 1522, last revised edition 2017) as gerecht wird (…) allein durch den Glauben: “justified by faith alone” (highlight added).
Luther expained his decision to add allein (“alone”) on pure linguistic grounds rather than as an attempt to emphasize justification by faith:
“I knew very well that the word solum [Latin = alone, only, solely] is not in the Greek or Latin text of Romans 3:28. (…) It’s a fact that these four letters ‘sola’ are not there (…) [But] it belongs there if the translation into German is to be clear and lucid. I wanted to speak German, not Latin or Greek, since it was German I had undertaken to speak in the translation. But it’s the nature of our German language that in speaking of two things, one of which is affirmed and the other denied, we use the word ‘solum’ (allein) along with the word ‘nicht’ (not) or ‘kein’ (no).”
Original text in German
“So habe ich hier in Röm. 3,28 sehr wohl gewußt, daß im lateinischen und griechischen Text das Wort »solum« nicht stehet (…) Wahr ists, diese vier Buchstaben ‘sola’ stehen nicht drinnen. (…) Die Absicht des Textes [ist] gleichwohl »sola« und wo mans klar und deutlich verdeutschen will, so gehöret es hinein. Denn ich habe deutsch, nicht lateinisch noch griechisch reden wollen, da ich mir beim Übersetzen deutsch zu reden vorgenommen hatte. Das ist aber die Art unserer deutschen Sprache: wenn sie von zwei Dingen redet, deren man eines bejaht und das andere verneint, so gebraucht man das Wort ‘solum’ = ‘allein’ (nur) neben dem Wort ‘nicht’ oder ‘kein’.” (source)
Other German Bible translations, including the Zürcher Bibel (which was first published just a few years after Luther’s initial publication) show that the linguistic argument alone is not sufficient. It translates in its current edition: Gerecht wird ein Mensch durch den Glauben — “A person is justified by faith.” The only other German translation that uses allein is Hoffnung für alle (publ. 1983), the German pendant of the English Living Bible.
Der griechische Text, der direkt übersetzt etwa "aus Glauben gerechtfertigt" bedeutet, wurde von der deutschen Übersetzung von Martin Luther (Erstausgabe 1522, letzte überarbeitete Ausgabe 2017) als "gerecht wird (...) allein durch den Glauben" übersetzt (Hervorhebung nicht im Originaltext).
Luther erklärte seine Entscheidung für die Hinzufügung von allein aus rein sprachlichen Erwägungen und nicht als eine Betonung der Gerechtwerdung durch Glaube:
Original text in German: "So habe ich hier in Röm. 3,28 sehr wohl gewußt, daß im lateinischen und griechischen Text das Wort »solum« nicht stehet (...) Wahr ists, diese vier Buchstaben 'sola' stehen nicht drinnen. (...) Die Absicht des Textes [ist] gleichwohl »sola« und wo mans klar und deutlich verdeutschen will, so gehöret es hinein. Denn ich habe deutsch, nicht lateinisch noch griechisch reden wollen, da ich mir beim Übersetzen deutsch zu reden vorgenommen hatte. Das ist aber die Art unserer deutschen Sprache: wenn sie von zwei Dingen redet, deren man eines bejaht und das andere verneint, so gebraucht man das Wort 'solum' = 'allein' (nur) neben dem Wort 'nicht' oder 'kein'." (Quelle)
Andere deutsche Bibelübersetzungen, einschließlich der Zürcher Bibel (die wenige Jahre nach Luthers Übersetzung veröffentlicht wurde) zeigen, dass das linguistische Argument alleine nicht ausreicht. Hier wird in der aktuellen Ausgabe: Gerecht wird ein Mensch durch den Glauben übersetzt. Die einzige andere deutsche Übersetzung, die allein verwendet, ist die Hoffnung für alle (veröffentl. 1983).