forgive, forgiveness

The concept of “forgiveness” is expressed in varied ways through translations. Following is a list of (back-) translations from some languages:

  • Tswa, North Alaskan Inupiatun, Panao Huánuco Quechua: “forget about”
  • Navajo: “give back” (based on the idea that sin produces an indebtedness, which only the one who has been sinned against can restore)
  • Huichol, Shipibo-Conibo, Eastern Highland Otomi, Uduk, Tepo Krumen: “erase,” “wipe out,” “blot out”
  • Highland Totonac, Huautla Mazatec: “lose,” “make lacking”
  • Tzeltal: “lose another’s sin out of one’s heart”
  • Lahu, Burmese: “be released,” “be freed”
  • Ayacucho Quechua: “level off”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “cast away”
  • Chol: “pass by”
  • Wayuu: “make pass”
  • Kpelle: “turn one’s back on”
  • Chicahuaxtla Triqui: “cover over” (a figure of speech which is also employed in Hebrew, but which in many languages is not acceptable, because it implies “hiding” or “concealment”)
  • Tabasco Chontal, Huichol: “take away sins”
  • Toraja-Sa’dan, Javanese: “do away with sins”
  • San Blas Kuna: “erase the evil heart” (this and all above: Bratcher / Nida, except Tepo Krumen: Peter Thalmann in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 25f.)
  • Eggon: “withdraw the hand”
  • Mískito: “take a man’s fault out of your heart” (source of this and the one above: Kilgour, p. 80)
  • Western Parbate Kham: “unstring someone” (“hold a grudge” — “have someone strung up in your heart”) (source: Watters, p. 171)
  • Hawai’i Creole English: “let someone go” (source: Jost Zetzsche)
  • Cebuano: “go beyond” (based on saylo)
  • Iloko: “none” or “no more” (based on awan) (source for this and above: G. Henry Waterman in The Bible Translator 1960, p. 24ff. )
  • Tzotzil: ch’aybilxa: “it has been lost” (source: Aeilts, p. 118)
  • Suki: biaek eisaemauwa: “make heart soft” (Source L. and E. Twyman in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 91ff. )
  • Warao: “not being concerned with him clean your obonja.” Obonja is a term that “includes the concepts of consciousness, will, attitude, attention and a few other miscellaneous notions” (source: Henry Osborn in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 74ff. See other occurrences of Obojona in the Warao New Testament.)
  • Martu Wangka: “throw out badness” (source: Carl Gross)
  • Mairasi: “dismantle wrongs” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Nyulnyul: “have good heart” (source )
  • Koonzime: “remove the bad deed-counters” (“The Koonzime lay out the deeds symbolically — usually strips of banana leaf — and rehearse their grievances with the person addressed.”) (Source: Keith and Mary Beavon in Notes on Translation 3/1996, p. 16)
  • Ngbaka: ele: “forgive and forget” (Margaret Hill [in Holzhausen & Ridere 2010, p. 8f.] recalls that originally there were two different words used in Ngbaka, one for God (ɛlɛ) and one for people (mbɔkɔ — excuse something) since it was felt that people might well forgive but, unlike God, can’t forget. See also this lectionary in The Christian Century .
  • Amahuaca: “erase” / “smooth over” (“It was an expression the people used for smoothing over dirt when marks or drawings had been made in it. It meant wiping off dust in which marks had been made, or wiping off writing on the blackboard. To wipe off the slate, to erase, to take completely away — it has a very wide meaning and applies very well to God’s wiping away sins, removing them from the record, taking them away.”) (Source: Robert Russel, quoted in Walls / Bennett 1959, p. 193)
  • Gonja / Dangme: “lend / loan” (in the words of one Dangme scholar: “When you sin and you are forgiven, you forget that you have been forgiven, and continue to sin. But when you see the forgiveness as a debt/loan which you will pay for, you do not continue to sin, else you have more debts to pay” — quoted in Jonathan E.T. Kuwornu-Adjaottor in Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies 17/2 2010, p. 67ff. )
  • Kwere: kulekelela, meaning literally “to allow for.” Derived from the root leka which means “to leave.” In other words, forgiveness is leaving behind the offense in relationship to the person. It is also used in contexts of setting someone free. (Source: Megan Barton)

See also this devotion on YouVersion .

complete verse (Matthew 6:12)

Following are a number of back-translations of Matthew 6:12:

  • Uma: “Forgive our wrongs, like we also forgive the wrongs of our companions,” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Forgive our sins as we also forgive those who sin against us.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Forgive us our sins like our forgiving the one who sins against us.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Forgive our (excl.) sins, because we (excl.) also have forgiven those who sinned against us (excl.).” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Forgive, too, our sins, the same as we do as we forgive those who sin against us.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “And forgive our sins, like we also forgive those who do bad to us.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Chichewa (interconfessional translation, 1999): “Forgive us our sins, even as we ourselves forgive those who wrong us.” (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 157)
  • Martu Wangka: “When another person does wrong to me, I should not in return do wrong to them — I should go and talk about being reconciled together. When I talk like that, to that person, then following that, I am asking you, you throw out my badness.” (Source: Carl Gross)
  • Gonja “And lend/loan us our sins as we also have lent/loaned those who offended us.” (Source: Alexander Akaninga / Jonathan E.T. Kuwornu-Adjaottor / Amutanga Akaninga in Journal of Mother-Tongue Biblical Hermeneutics and Theology (MOTBIT) 6/3 2024, p. 35ff. )

See also forgiveness.