The Greek that is translated as “cross” in English is often referred to a description of the shape (in Chinese, for instance it is translated as 十字架 shízìjià — “10-character-frame” because the character for “10” has the shape of a cross), elsewhere it refers to the function, e.g. a coined term, made up of two Sanskrit words, meaning “killing-pole” (Marathi NT revision of 1964), “wood to-stretch-out-with” (Toraja-Sa’dan), or “nailing pole” (Zarma). A combination of the two seems to be used in Balinese, which employs a word for the crossbeams in a house, derived from a verb that can refer both to a beam that stretches from side to side under a roof, and to a person stretched out for torture (source for this and above: Reling / Swellengrebel). Similarly, in Lamba it is translated “with umutaliko — ‘a pole with a cross-piece, on which maize was normally tied’ from the verb ‘talika’ which, strangely enough, is used of ‘holding down a man with arms and legs stretched out, someone gripping each limb.'” (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff.)
“In Mongolian, the term that is used is togonoltchi mott, which is found in the top of a tent. The people on the steppes live in round felt-yurts and the round opening on the top of the tent serves as a window. The crosswood in that opening is called togonoltchi mott. ‘Crucified’ is translated ‘nailed on the crosswood.’ This term is very simple, but deep and interesting too. Light comes to men through the Cross. What a privilege to be able to proclaim such a message.” (Source: A. W. Marthinson in The Bible Translator 1954, p. 74ff.)
In Mairasi it is translated as iwo nasin ae: “chest measurement wood.” “This term refers to the process of making a coffin when a person dies. The man making the coffin takes a piece of bamboo and measures the body from head to heel. He then breaks the stick off at the appropriate point. For the width he measures the shoulders and then ties the two sticks together in the shape of a cross. As he works, he continually measures to make sure the coffin is the correct size. At the gravesite, the coffin is lowered. Then the gravecloth, palm leaves, and finally the chest measurement stick are laid on top of the coffin before the dirt is piled on. This term is full of meaning, because it is in the shape of a cross, and each person will have one. The meaning is vividly associated with death.” (Source: Enggavoter, 2004)
In Lisu it is translated as ꓡꓯꓼ ꓐꓳ ꓔꓶꓸ DU — lä bo tɯ du: “a place to stretch the arms across.” (Source: Arrington 2020, p. 215)
See also crucify.
The Greek that is translated as something like “(Martha) was distracted by all the preparations” is translated as “all kinds of work to do had gone to Martha’s heart” (Tzeltal), “Martha was wearing-herself-out how/the-way her feeding them” (Tboli), “because much work fell to Martha, her agitation flew/flared-up” (Marathi), “Martha’s mind was stirred up with excess of service” (Zarma), “she danced to and fro in serving” (Uab Meto), “much work overwhelmed Martha” (Sranan Tongo) (source for all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), or “her face kept on getting turned” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).
The Greek that is translated as “knock (on a door)” in English is translated as “call” (Zanaki, Yanesha’) “speak” (Tzeltal), or “clap” (Zarma).
This is sometimes due to the fact that doors are not being used in the respective cultures (as, for instance, in Yanesha’) or, as Nida (p. 45f.) explains, other cultural differences:
“One cannot say to the Zanaki people along the winding shores of sprawling Lake Victoria, ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock’ (Revelation 3:20). This would mean that Christ was declaring Himself to be a thief, for in Zanaki land thieves generally make it a practice to knock on the door of a hut which they hope to burglarize; and if they hear any movement or noise inside, they dash off into the dark. An honest man will come to a house and call the name of the person inside, and in this way identify himself by his voice. Accordingly, in the Zanaki translation it is necessary to say, ‘Behold I stand at the door and call.’ This wording might be slightly strange to us, but the meaning is the same. In each case Christ is asking people to open the door. He is no thief and He will not force an entrance; He knocks — and in Zanaki “He calls.” If anything the Zanaki expression is a little more personal than our own.”
Sources: Nida 1952 (Zanaki); Duff Tripp, p. 310 (Yanesha’); Reiling / Swellengrebel (Tzeltal, Zarma).
See also complete verse (Rev. 3:20).
The Greek that is translated as “(you) foolish people” or “(you) foolish ones” is (back-) translated in a number of ways:
- Ekari: “thought not (having) people”
- Kituba, Sinhala, Marathi, Javanese: “people without sense/understanding/intelligence”
- San Blas Kuna: “people having a dark liver” (“incapable of intelligent, thoughtful behavior”) (See Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”)
- Batak Toba: “those short-of-mind” (“mostly referring to stupidity or ignorance in general”)
- Zarma: a word indicating a person who refuses to use the intelligence he has
- Nyanja, Yao: expressions implying intractability and willful opposition to common interests or commonly accepted ideas (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
- Mairasi: “(you are) beeswax” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
See also insane / fool.
The Greek that is translated as “acknowledge” or “confess” in English is rendered as “say openly … that they have believed” (Tzeltal), “approves” (Nyanja), “declares/mentions (my) name” (Kekchí, Sranan Tongo), “talks (my) good name” (Northern Grebo), “testifies to (me)” (Zarma, Pohnpeian), “takes (my) side” (Shona, translation of 1966), or “speaks for (me)” (Ekari).
The Greek that is often translated as “slow of heart” in English is translated as “the heart is hard” in Zarma, “very heavy in heart” in Uab Meto, “blocked-hearted” in Indonesian, “lazy to think” in Tae’, “having a heart that delays” in Shona (translation of 1963), or “failing-heart-people” in Adamawa Fulfulde.
Some languages have distinctive terms for congenital and non-congenital blindness. The Greek that is translated here as “blind” in English is translated with the term for the non-congenital blindness in Yatzachi Zapotec.
Other terms for “blind” include “(having) eyes dark/night” in Ekari or “having no eyes” in Zarma.
Sources: Reiling / Swellengrebel and Nida 1964, p. 200.
The Hebrew or Greek which are translated into English as “sackcloth” are rendered into Chamula Tzotzil as “sad-heart clothes.” (Source: Robert Bascom)
Pohnpeian and Chuukese translate it as “clothing-of sadness,” Eastern Highland Otomi uses “clothing that hurts,” Central Mazahua “that which is scratchy,” and Tae’ and Zarma “rags.” (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing what a sackcloth looked like in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)
See also you have loosed my sackcloth.