vain (worship)

The Greek that is translated into English as “vain” or “in vain” in English is (back-) translated in various ways:

  • Cashibo-Cacataibo: “say I am important, but they do not believe it”
  • Kekchí: “has no meaning when they praise me”
  • Toraja-Sa’dan, Pamona: “uselessly”
  • Copainalá Zoque: “uselessly they remember”
  • Farefare: “their religion is their mouth”
  • Southern Subanen: “their worship has no meaning”
  • Tzotzil: “they say they love me, but this means nothing”
  • Southern Bobo Madaré: “they worship me but they do not mean what they say”
  • Central Mazahua: “it is of no value that they honor me”
  • San Blas Kuna: “their thinking is not in their hearts” (source for this and above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Mairasi: “tribute of theirs for me [which] will-be-on-their-own” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Guhu-Samane: “with the front teeth of their mouths they worship me” (“‘In vain’ caused puzzlement [because] why should their efforts to worship God produce no results, try as they may? [But the idiom] ‘with the front teeth of their mouths they worship me’ comes from the picture of one who is making a pretense at eating food, hence their deceit is apparent.’ Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff.)

complete verse (James 1:12)

This verse is translated in Guhu-Samane as “The man who is unmovable in a test is in a happy condition. For those who love God are the ones into whose armbands he promised to insert the victory flower of life. So then, after the test is over that man will have the victory flower inserted.”

Source: Ernest Richert in The Bible Translator, 1965, p. 81ff.

Handman (2015, p. 115) comments on this: “This suggests that Richert created an underlying message that put the verse in logical, sequential order. God promised man ‘the crown of life’ before anyone actually received it. Therefore, the promise appears before the description of receiving the gift. The underlying message likely mirrored the following organization:

A man who perseveres under a trial is a good man. God promised this crown of life to those who love him. When he passes the test, then he will receive the crown of life.

“‘Crown of life’ in the Greek and most English versions becomes ‘flower of life (slipped through an armband)’ in Richert’s translation, a reference to a flower put in a man’s armband as a sign of prestige or victory. Richert was concerned to use the right words and expressions, in the right order, to make the biblical text as comprehensible as possible.'”

See also crown of life.

justification, justify

The Greek that is translated as “justify” in English is translated into Tzotzil in two different ways. One of those is with Lec xij’ilatotic yu’un Dios ta sventa ti ta xc’ot ta o’ntonal ta xch’unel ti Jesucristoe (“we are seen well by God because of our faith in Jesus Christ”) (source: Aeilts, p. 118) and the other is “God sees as righteous” (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.).

Other (back-) translations include:

wineskins

The Greek that is translated as “wineskins” in most English translations is translated in Guhu-Samane as “gourds.”

“Wineskins” caused “puzzlement [because] why would one put wine or any liquid into the skin of an animal since the skins just rot quickly? [But] it is conceded that a person wishing to store a liquid (wine or other) would not choose an old, but a new gourd. The people here are familiar with wine in the Eucharist and can readily conceive of how wine (literally ‘strong water’) could burst an old gourd and as such the argument is not lost.”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..

Passover

The Greek and Hebrew that is typically translated in English as “Passover” is translated more descriptively by various languages:

  • Ojitlán Chinantec: “the feast of the passing by of God’s angel”
  • Lalana Chinantec “the day would come which is called Passover, when the Israel people remember how they went out of the land of Egypt.
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “the celebration when they ate their sheep”
  • Umiray Dumaget Agta: “the celebration of the day of their being brought out of bondage”
    (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Obolo: ijọk Iraraka: “Festival of Passing” (source: Enene Enene)
  • Guhu-Samane: “special day of sparing” (source: Ernest Richert in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff.)
  • Yakan: “The festival of the Isra’il tribe which they call For-Remembering” (source: Yakan back-translation)

mercy

(To view the different translations of this term in a simplified graphical form on a new page, click or tap here.)

The Greek terms that are typically translated as “mercy” (or “compassion”) in English are translated in various ways. Bratcher / Nida classify them in (1) those based on the quality of heart, or other psychological center, (2) those which introduce the concept of weeping or extreme sorrow, (3) those which involve willingness to look upon and recognize the condition of others, or (4) those which involve a variety of intense feelings.

Here are some (back-) translations:

taste death

The Greek that is translated as “taste death” in English is translated in Guhu-Samane as “die” because “the term suggests cannibalism to Papua New Guinea natives.”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..

complete verse (James 1:15)

Following are some back-translations of James 1:15:

  • Guhu-Samane: “Then it overwhelms the man and the sin becomes reality, and in return the man encounters death.”
  • Tzotzil: “If we let the coveting of our hearts grab its strength, thus we will seek our sin; if sin has grabbed its strength, we will be lost because of it.”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “If we obey our evil hearts, we are doing evil; and if we continue doing evil the day will come when God will desert us.”
  • Sayula Popoluca: “”When that evil he wants stays in him, it gives room for sin to grow in him, and that sin when it grows big, then it kills him.”

(Source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.)

submit to God

The Greek that is translated as “submit to God” in English is translated as “let God be in charge of your hearts” in Tzotzil, “calm down before God” in Guhu-Samane, “obey God” in Mezquital Otomi, “give oneself over to God” in Sayula Popoluca, and “stick close to God” in Alekano (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.).

first commandment

The Greek that is translated as “first commandment” in English is translated in Guhu-Samane as “the head of the rest of the commandments… .” This solves a potential confusion for Guhu-Samane speakers whether the commandment is “the first in point of time, or of importance. [This way] it speaks obviously of the primacy of the commandment.”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..