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.

My God my God why have you forsaken me?

The Greek that is translated as “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” or similar in English is translated in the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) as Vatter, wills do nix mieh vun mer wesse? or “Father, do you no longer wish to have anything to do with me?” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

amazed, astonished, marvel

The Greek that is translated as “astonished” or “amazed” or “marvel” in English is translated in Pwo Karen as “stand up very tall.” (In John 5:20, source: David Clark)

Elsewhere it is translated as “confusing the inside of the head” (Mende), “shiver in the liver” (Uduk, Laka), “to lose one’s heart” (Mískito, Tzotzil), “to shake” (Southern Bobo Madaré), “to be with mouth open” (Panao Huánuco Quechua) (source: Bratcher / Nida), “to stand with your mouth open” (Citak) (source: Stringer 2007, p. 120), “ceasing to think with the heart” (Bulu), or “surprise in the heart” (Yamba) (source for this and one above: W. Reyburn in The Bible Translator 1959, p. 1ff. ).

In Mark 5:20 and elsewhere where the astonishment is a response to listening to Jesus, the translation is “listened quietly” in Central Tarahumara, “they forgot listening” (because they were so absorbed in what they heard that they forgot everything else) in San Miguel El Grande Mixtec, “it was considered very strange by them” in Tzeltal (source: Bratcher / Nida), “in glad amazement” (to distinguish it from other kinds of amazement) (Quetzaltepec Mixe) (source: Robert Bascom), or “breath evaporated” (Mairasi) (source: Enngavoter 2004).

In Western Dani astonishment is emphasized with direct speech. In Mark 1:22, for instance, it says: “Wi!” yinuk, pi wareegwaarak — “They were all amazed, saying ‘Oh'” (source: Lourens De Vries in The Bible Translator 1992, p. 333ff. )

In Low German it is translated as grote Oken maken or “make big eyes” (sometime followed by: un kreegn dat Stillswiegen: “and became silent”) (translation by Johannes Jessen, publ. 1933, republ. 2006).

In the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) it is translated as brummte de Lück de Kopp or “the heads of the people buzzed,” Bauklötz jestaunt, lit. “marvel toy blocks,” and vür Staune de Muhl nit mieh zojekräch or “so full of marvel that they couldn’t close their mouths again.”

In the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) it is often translated as baff vor staune or “speechless because of their marvel.” (source: Zetzsche)(Source: Jost Zetzsche)

See also amazed and astonished.


The Hebrew and Greek that is translated in English as “hungry” is translated in Noongar as koborl-wirt or “without stomach” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang) and in the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) it is often translated as nix zo Käue han or “have nothing to chew on” (note that zo Käue han or “something to chew on” is also used for “eat” — see Mark 6:37). (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

See also famished.

genealogy in Matthew 1

Genealogies play an important role among many of Indonesian language groups and it’s important to follow the right format to make them recognizable as such. Daniel Arichea explains (in The Bible Translator 1986. p. 232ff. ):

“In translating the genealogies, we need to pay attention to the standard form of genealogical lists in the language of translation. Among the Bataks, it was discovered after some research that the genealogies are recorded in the form of a list of ancestors. Furthermore, this list almost always starts from the ancestor and goes down to the descendants. This seems to be true also for many other Indonesian groups, although there are some variations. For the genealogies to have meaning among the Bataks and other groups of similar cultures, these genealogies must be in a form which is appropriate.

“In Matthew 1:2-16, the biblical form is strange to many Indonesians. (…) The second edition of the Common Language Indonesian New Testament (Alkitab dalam Bahasa Indonesia Masa Kini) discarded the biblical form and came out with a series of ancestral lists. (…) When this was tested, however, many Indonesians did not recognize these lists as genealogical lists, but saw them simply as a list of names. In the light of such reactions, the new edition which is included in the recently published common language Bible has printed these lists as genealogical lists moving downward from the ancestors to the descendants. Thus, verse 2 reads: “From Abraham until David, the names of the ancestors of Jesus are as follows” [which is then followed by a list].”

You can see this in the following screen capture (available right here ):

In the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017), the genealogy is summarized: “From Abraham to David there were fourteen generations. There were another fourteen generations from David until the Jews were deported to Babylon and from Babylon to Jesus there were yet another fourteen generations. This shows that Joseph (Jupp), Mary’s husband, was a descendant of Abraham and David.” (Translation: Jost Zetzsche)

our daily bread

The Greek that is translated as “our daily bread” or similar in most English versions was translated in the Catholic English Douay-Rheims version (publ. 1582) as “our supersubstantial bread.”

In the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) it is translated as wat mer Minsche zum Levve bruche or “what us humans need for sustenance.” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)


The Greek that is translated as “famished” or similar in English is translated in the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) as singe Mage hät geknottert wie ne Hungk or “his stomach growled like a dog.” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

See also hungry.


The Greek that is translated as “awestruck” or similar in English is translated in the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) with the colloquialism Bauklötz jestaunt, lit. “marvel toy blocks.” (Source: Jost Zetzsche)