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.)

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..

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.).

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:

riches have rotted

The Greek that is translated as “your riches have rotted” or similar in English is translated in Guhu-Samane as “your riches stink” (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..

elders of the church

The Greek that is typically translated as “the elders of the church” in English is translated as “the old men who believe” in Sayula Popoluca, “those who care for the assembly of Christ” in Rincón Zapotec, “those in authority among the brothers” in Central Mazahua, and “the supervisors of the creed” in Guhu-Samane (source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.).

See also elder.

majestic

The Hebrew that is translated as “majestic” in most English translations is translated in Guhu-Samane as “the quality of the bull-roarer call.” Ernest Richert explains: “In searching for a suitable equivalent for ‘majestic’ it was learned that the bull-roarer had the important function not only of announcing poro ceremonies [poro is the traditional religion], but also the arrival of a great or important person. Of a notable man it is said that his name had the quality of the bull-roarer call. Thus the passage is translated: ‘O Lord, our Lord in all the great earth your name has the quality of the bull-roarer call’.”

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

there you will see him

The Greek that is translated as “there you will see him” in English is translated in Guhu-Samane as “there you will see his substance.”

“There you will see him” caused “puzzlement: Will see him, but in spirit form, or corporeal? (A valid question for people of this culture to whom the spirits of departed ones frequently appear.) [But] ‘there you will see his substance’ is now clearly and unambiguously understood to mean Christ would be seen corporeally.”

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