tohu wa-bohu

The Hebrew assonance tohu wa-bohu is often translated in English as “formless void” or some equivalent, but in some translations and languages attempts have been made to recreate some of its literary flavor:

  • English: wild and waste (Everett Fox 1995); welter and waste (Robert Alter 2004); void and vacant (James Moffatt 1935); complete chaos (NRSVue 2021)
  • German: Irrsal und Wirrsal (Buber / Rosenzweig 1976); wüst und wirr (Einheitsübersetzung, 1980/2016)
  • French: vide et vague (La Bible de Jérusalem, 1975)
  • Ancient Greek: aóratos kaí akataskévastos (ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος) (Septuagint)

See also formless void.

all scripture is inspired by God

The Greek that is translated as “all scripture is inspired by God (or: is God-breathed)” into English is translated into various languages in the following ways:

  • Berom: “All the words that were written in the Leaf of Teaching of Father Sun came away from God thing his” (Mwa neha de bà jɛk e Bwok-basa Dagwi na vey yi na Dagwi pyɛ mɛ)
  • Hausa (Common Language Version): “All the writings of the Word of God are blown from his place” (Duk Rubutacciyar Maganar Allah hurarre ce daga wurinsa)
  • Kera: “All the words that were written in God’s book come straight from God’s mouth” (Kel gə minti gə jeerə-jeere giidə kefter kə Pepeŋa keɗe ha’aŋ, yə bəŋ ku Pepeŋ da)
  • Arabic (True Meaning Arabic edition): “All of this book is a revelation from God” (فهذِهِ الكُتُبُ كُلُّها وَحيٌ مِن اللهِ)
  • Chadian Arabic: “The book is completely the word of God which he sent down (الْكِتَابْ كُلَّ كَيْ هُو كَلَامْ اللّٰهْ النَّزَّلَهْ)
  • Dari (Today’s Dari Version 2008): “The whole holy book is divine revelation” (تمام کتاب مقدس از الهام خداست)
  • French (Parole de Vie 2017): “All the holy books were written with the help of God” (Tous les Livres Saints ont été écrits avec l’aide de Dieu)
  • Lamogai: “All of the talk written in God’s book was given by God’s Spirit.”
  • Northern Emberá: “God (emph.) made all of his word to be written” (Ãcõrẽbʌrʌ jũma Idji Bed̶eara b̶ʌbisia)
  • Hiligaynon: “The whole Written-Item was written by-means-of the power of God” (Kay ang bug-os nga Kasulatan ginbugna sang Dios kag mapuslanon sa pagtudlo sang kamatuoran)
  • Sindhi: “The origin/fount of each writing of the holy word/scripture is God (emph. = alone)”
  • Dobel: “And God’s Message all of it, it was he alone who put it in people’s thoughts, then they wrote it in The Book” (Sa Dukwaida Ssinan Ler si Rakwin re nam ffui, nai naꞌꞌenni yaꞌa nam i tamatu ada faꞌirandi nama datiya i Suratu Yabil)
  • Amele: “All the written good talk God’s Spirit he himself taught/instructed men and they wrote” (Me je jaqec cunug Anutna Kis uqadodoc dana iwaladeceb jaqein)
  • Saxwe Gbe: “Every holy writing came from God”
  • Aja: “It was God’s Spirit that took all things that were written in the books of God’s Word and put them in the minds/consciences of people, and they wrote them” (source for this and all above: discussion on BT email list, contributions used with permissions)
  • Kaqchikel: “All scripture is God’s breath”

On this last translation, the translation into Kaqchikel, Cameron Townsend reports:

“We were struggling with the part of the Scripture that says, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God.’ We tried several different ways of translating this, but the men were never satisfied that it communicated well in Kaqchikel. I consulted the Greek and said, ‘How about translating it ‘all scripture is God-breathed?” ‘No,’ they said, ‘that doesn’t sound right.’ Then I suggested using ‘God’s breath.’ The men liked this and we agreed to use this phrase. But I wasn’t entirely convinced it was as accurate as it should be. Then I began to read other portions of Scripture where I noticed that when God spoke in creation it had the same connotation as God’s breath. And so we left it that way: ‘All scripture is God’s breath.'” (Quoted in Steven 1995, p. 196f.)

Derived from this phrase, the word for “Bible” in Armenian is Asdvadz-a-shoonch (Աստվածաշունչ) or “Breath of God.”

See also examined the scriptures, scripture, and complete verse (2 Timothy 3:16).

translations with a Hebraic voice (Genesis 1:2)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
When the earth was wild and waste,
Darkness over the face of Ocean,
Rushing spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters —

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
Die Erde aber war Irrsal und Wirrsal.
Finsternis über Urwirbels Antlitz.
Braus Gottes schwingend über dem Antlitz der Wasser.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
la terre était tohu-et-bohu,
une ténèbre sur les faces de l’abîme,
mais le souffle d’Elohîms planait sur les faces des eaux.

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.

Peter - rock

The word pun that Jesus makes in Matthew 16:18 in Greek (using similar words for “Peter” and “rock”: πετρος and πετρα) is lost in most languages (such as in English) but is naturally preserved in some languages, such as French (Pierre and pierre), Portuguese (Pedro and pedra), Italian (Pietro and pietra), Latin (Petrus and petram), Corsican (Petru and petra), Modern Greek (Πέτρος and πέτρα), and — to a lesser degree — in Spanish (Pedro and piedra) and in Romanian (Petru and piatră).

Despite the similarity between the words in those languages, readers might not automatically catch the word play, as Carlo Buzzetti (in The Bible Translator 1983, p. 308ff. ) explains for Italian (click here to read more)

“In many languages it is not possible to repeat the same word, because the equivalent of Petros has become a personal name, while the equivalent of petra is a common noun, the gender of which may be different from that of the equivalent of Petros. The Italian linguistic situation seems at first sight to be very similar to the Greek: to translate Petrospetra we can use Pietropietra. But unfortunately this conveys a different meaning to the average Italian reader: first, because Pietro is now not a new nickname, but a common traditional personal name; and second, because pietra is a feminine noun similar in form to Pietro, but carrying no suggestion that the two have the same meaning. Indeed, Pietro, like ‘Peter’ and most personal names, carries no meaning at all for the average reader or speaker.

“The common language translators felt that it was possible to make the identification between Petros and petra explicit, and at the same time exploit the similarity between the two words. We thus translated: tu sei Pietro e su di te, come su una pietra, io costruirò la mia comunità [in the original Common Language Version: Chiesa] (‘you are Peter and on you, as on a rock, I will build my community [originally: ‘Church’]. Our te (‘you’) connected Pietro and pietra. while our come (‘as’) expressed the fact that the connection was based on an image. In this way we suggested the meaning of Pietro.”

Like the Peshitta translation in Syriac Aramaic (Classical Syriac) with the term ܟܹܐܦܵܐ (kēpā), the Neo-Aramaic languages of Assyrian and Chaldean use terms for both “Peter” and “rock” (and “Cephas”) that are identical (ܟܹܐܦܵܐ and كِيپَا, both pronounced kēpā) so the word pun is preserved in those translations as well. (Source: Ken Bunge)

See also Cephas and this lectionary in The Christian Century.

horns

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated in English as “horns (of the altar)” is translated in the French common language editions (1997 and 2019) as angles relevés or “raised angles” and in the Parole de Vie of 2017 as coins relevés or “raised corners.”

In the Arabic TMA translation it is translated as hayth tjllyat Allah (حيث تجلّيات الله) or “where God’s manifestation are.” (Source: Andy Warren-Rothlin)

translations with a Hebraic voice (Exodus 20:2-14)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
I am Yhwh your God,
who brought you out
from the land of Egypt,
from a house of serfs.
You are not to have
any other gods
before my presence.
You are not to make yourself a carved-image
or any figure
that is in the heavens above, that is on the earth beneath, that is in the waters beneath the earth;
you are not to bow down to them,
you are not to serve them,
for I, Yhwh your God,
am a zealous God,
calling-to-account the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, to the third and the fourth (generation)
of those that hate me,
but showing loyalty to the thousandth
of those that love me,
of those that keep my commandments.

You are not to take up
the name of Yhwh your God for emptiness,
for Yhwh will not clear him
that takes up his name for emptiness.

Remember
the Sabbath day, to hallow it.
For six days, you are to serve, and are to make all your work,
but the seventh day
is Sabbath for Yhwh your God:
you are not to make any kind of work,
(not) you, nor your son, nor your daughter,
(not) your servant, nor your maid, nor your beast,
nor your sojourner that is within your gates.
For in six days Yhwh made
the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in it,
and he rested on the seventh day;
therefore Yhwh gave the Sabbath day his blessing, and he hallowed it.

Honor
your father and your mother,
in order that your days may be prolonged
on the soil that Yhwh your God is giving you.

You are not to murder.

You are not to adulter.

You are not to steal.

You are not to testify
against your fellow as a false witness.

You are not to desire
the house of your neighbor,
you are not to desire the wife of your neighbor,
or his servant, or his maid, or his ox, or his donkey,
or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
Ich
bin dein Gott,
der ich dich führte aus dem Land Ägypten, aus dem Haus der Dienstbarkeit.
Nicht sei dir
andere Gottheit
mir ins Angesicht.
Nicht mache dir Schnitzgebild, —
und alle Gestalt,
die im Himmel oben, die auf Erden unten, die im Wasser unter der Erde ist,
neige dich ihnen nicht,
diene ihnen nicht,
denn Ich dein Gott
bin ein eifernder Gottherr,
zuordnend Fehl von Vätern ihnen an Söhnen, am dritten und vierten Glied,
denen die mich hassen,
aber Huld tuend ins tausendste
denen die mich lieben,
denen die meine Gebote wahren.

Trage nicht
Seinen deines Gottes Namen
auf das Wahnhafte,
denn nicht straffrei läßt Er ihn,
der seinen Namen auf das Wahnhafte trägt.

Gedenke
des Tags der Feier, ihn zu heiligen.
Ein Tagsechst diene und mache all deine Arbeit,
aber der siebente Tag
ist Feier Ihm, deinem Gott:
nicht mache allerart Arbeit,
du, dein Sohn, deine Tochter,
dein Dienstknecht, deine Magd, dein Tier,
und dein Gastsasse in deinen Toren.
Denn ein Tagsechst
machte Er
den Himmel und die Erde, das Meer und alles, was in ihnen ist,
am siebenten Tag aber ruhte er,
darum segnete Er den Tag der Feier, er hat ihn geheiligt.

Ehre
deinen Vater und deine Mutter,
damit sich längern deine Tage
auf dem Ackerboden, den Er4 dein Gott dir gibt.

Morde nicht.

Buhle nicht.

Stiehl nicht.

Aussage nicht
gegen deinen Genossen als Lügenzeuge.

Begehre nicht das Haus deines Genossen,
begehre nicht das Weib deines Genossen,
seinen Knecht, seine Magd, seinen Ochsen, seinen Esel,
noch allirgend was deines Genossen ist.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
« Moi-même, IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms qui t’ai fait sortir
de la terre de Misraîm, de la maison des serfs,
il ne sera pas pour toi d’autres Elohîms contre mes faces.
Tu ne feras pour toi ni sculpture ni toute image
de ce qui est dans les ciels en haut, sur la terre en bas,
et dans les eaux sous terre.
Tu ne te prosterneras pas devant elles et ne les serviras pas.
Oui, moi-même, IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms, Él ardent
je sanctionne le tort des pères sur les fils,
jusqu’au troisième et au quatrième cycle pour mes haineux,
Mais je fais chérissement jusqu’au millième à mes amants,
aux gardiens de mes ordres.
Tu ne porteras pas le nom de IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms, en vain:
car, IHVH-Adonaï n’innocente pas qui porte son nom en vain.
Souviens-toi du jour du shabat pour le consacrer.
Tu travailleras six jours: fais tout ton ouvrage.
Le septième jour, shabat pour IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms,
tu ne feras aucun ouvrage, toi, ton fils, ta fille,
ton serviteur, ta servante, ta bête,
ton métèque qui est en tes portes.
Oui, six jours, IHVH-Adonaï a fait les ciels et la terre,
la mer et tout ce qui y est,
puis il s’est reposé le septième jour,
sur quoi IHVH-Adonaï a béni le jour du shabat et il le consacre.
Glorifie ton père et ta mère, pour que se prolongent
tes jours sur la glèbe que IHVH-Adonaï, ton Elohîms, te donne.
Tu n’assassineras pas.
Tu n’adultéreras pas.
Tu ne voleras pas.
Tu ne répondras pas contre ton compagnon en témoin de mensonge.
Tu ne convoiteras pas la maison de ton compagnon,
tu ne convoiteras pas la femme de ton compagnon,
son serviteur, sa servante, son boeuf, son âne,
et tout ce qui est à ton compagnon. »
Et c’est au soir, la caille monte, elle couvre le camp,
et le matin, c’était une couche de rosée autour du camp.
La couche de rosée monte, et voici: sur les faces du désert,
une croûte fine, fine comme givre sur la terre.
Les Benéi Israël voient et disent, chaque homme à son frère:
« Mân hou ? Qu’est-ce ? » Non, ils ne savaient pas ce que c’était.
Moshè leur dit:
« C’est le pain que IHVH-Adonaï vous donne en nourriture. »

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.

translations with a Hebraic voice (1 Samuel 25:22)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
This may God do to “the enemies of” David, and thus may he add,
if I leave from all that belongs to him, by daybreak [even] one pissing against the wall!

Translator’s notes:

“David’s enemies”: Later scribes have added the word “enemies” here, in order to avoid placing a verbal curse on David.
“One pissing against the wall”: Others, euphemistically, “a single male,” but the imagery is doglike. Unlike most modern translations, Tyndale and the King James Version got it right: “aught / one that pisseth by the wall.”

Source: Everett Fox 2014

German:
so tue Gott Dawids Feinden, so füge er hinzu,
laß ich bis zum Morgenlicht von allem, was sein ist, einen Wandpisser übrig!

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
Ainsi fera Elohîms aux ennemis de David et ainsi il ajoutera si je laisse,
de tout ce qui est à lui, avant le matin, un pisseur contre un mur !

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.

translations with a Hebraic voice (Exodus 34:35)

Some translations specifically reproduce the voice of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible.

English:
the Children of Israel would see Moshe’s face,
that the skin of Moshe’s face was radiating;
but then Moshe would put back the veil on his face,
until he came in to speak with him.

Source: Everett Fox 1995

German:
sahen die Söhne Jissraels Mosches Antlitz,
daß die Haut des Antlitzes strahlte;
dann aber legte Mosche den Schleier wieder über sein Antlitz,
bis er kam, mit ihm zu reden.

Source: Buber / Rosenzweig 1976

French:
Les Benéi Israël voient les faces de Moshè:
oui, la peau des faces de Moshè rayonnait.
Moshè retourne le voile sur ses faces,
jusqu’à sa venue pour parler avec lui.

Source: Chouraqui 1985

For other verses or sections translated with a Hebraic voice, see here.