hypocrite

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The Greek and Hebrew terms that are translated as “hypocrite” in English typically have a counterpart in most languages. According to Bratcher / Nida (1961, p. 225), they can be categorized into the following categories:

  • those which employ some concept of “two” or “double”
  • those which make use of some expression of “mouth” or “speaking”
  • those which are based upon some special cultural feature
  • those which employ a non-metaphorical phrase

Following is a list of (back-) translations from some languages:

The English version of Sarah Ruden (2021) uses “play-actor.” She explains (p. li): “A hupokrites is fundamentally an actor. The word has deep negativity in the Gospels on two counts: professional actors were not respectable people in the ancient world, and traditional Judaism did not countenance any kind of playacting. I write ‘play-actor’ throughout.”

See also hypocrisy.

sorceress, witch

The translation of the Hebrew that is translated as “witch,” “sorceress” or alike in English is discussed in the attached paper by Robert Priest. He stipulates that in many languages, particularly in the African context, there are two categories of people that could be described with that term.

The first category would include people who offer “magico-religious” services to clients with a variety of goals, including healing, success, protection and others. Often-used anthropological English terms for these individuals include “shaman,” “diviner,” or “traditional healer.”

The other group includes people who are “thought to be the evil reasons for misfortune in the lives of others.”

He cites Hausa*, Lingala*, Mongo (Lomongo), Sango, Luba-Lulua (Tschiluba) as languages that use a term from the first category and the follosing languages with terms from the second category: Bambara, Southern Bobo Madaré (Bobo Madare), Nyanja (Chewa), Kanyok (Kanioka), Kamba (Kikamba), Kongo (Kikongo), Kikuyu, Gusii (Kisii), Songse (Kisonge), Kituba, Ngbaka, Plateau Malagasy, Swahili, Tetela, Tumbuka, Yoruba.

* In these languages, different versions use terms from either category.

See Bible Translation, Theology, and Witches by Robert J. Priest