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), Chichewa (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

hypocrite

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.

faithful

The Greek that is rendered as “faithful” in English is (back-) translated in various ways:

See also faith / believe.

saint

The Greek that is translated as “saint” in English is rendered into Highland Puebla Nahuatl as “those with clean hearts,” into Northwestern Dinka as “those with white hearts,” and into Western Kanjobal as “people of prayer.” (Source: Nida 1952, p. 146)

Other translations include:

Amen

If the Hebrew or (the transliterated) Greek “Amen” (as part of a prayer) is not transliterated it can also be translated into expressions such as “that is just the way it is” (Huichol), “that’s it” (Shilluk), “may it be thus” (Tzeltal) (source: Bratcher / Nida), or “Let those things thus be” (Kituba) (source: Donald Deer in The Bible Translator 1973, p. 207ff.).

In Mairasi the translation is aniaut aug or “it’s a tuberful dig.” The preface to Enggavoter 2004 explains: “Truth is like a tuber [sweet potatoes, taro, cassava, yams]. We Mairasi have tubers as our standard food. The leaves are visible above ground. But we planted the plant so that it would produce tubers, but those are beneath the ground. So the vocabulary about ‘truth’ and ‘produce’ or ‘fruit’ is based on words for ‘tubers.’ For example: the word for ‘Amen’ ‘it’s a tuberful dig’ [also used for ‘verily’ or ‘definitely’] has its story like this: We see the leaves of the sweet potato but we do not know: the question is ‘Are there tubers or not?.’ So we dig then we see tubers. Therefore we say that ani ‘dig’ was aut ‘with tubers,’ which is ‘Aniaut!‘ ‘Definitely true!'”

complete verse (Revelation 22:9)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 22:9:

  • Uma: “But he forbade me, he said: ‘Don’t! Don’t worship me. Worship God. Because I am just a servant of God, the same as you (sing.) and the same as your (sing.) fellow prophets and all the people who follow the words which are written in this letter.'” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But he said to me, ‘Don’t prostrate before me, because we (dual) are equally servants of God, like also your brothers, the prophets, and all who believe-obey the words in this book. God is the only one you shall praise.'” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “But he shouted to me, he said, ‘Don’t you worship me, because I and you and your fellow prophets of God and all who obey the words in this book, we are all just the same, servants of God. Only worship God,’ he said.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But he said to me, ‘Don’t! God alone is the one whom you (sing.) are to worship! Because I also am one who serves God just as you (sing.) and your (sing.) companions who are prophets and all who obey what has been written in this book.'” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But what he said to me was, ‘Don’t! Don’t you do like that. He only, God, is the one you are to worship. For as for me, I am also his servant like you, like your siblings in believing who are prophets and all who really obey the things said which are written here in this writing.'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “But the angel said to me: ‘No, do not worship me. Because I also am just a worker for God like you are a worker for God. Just like your brothers who speak God’s word and like the people who believe this word and are pleased to do whatever word is written in this book, all are workers for God. As for you, worship God,’ he said to me.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Kituba: “. . .:’No, don’t worship me! (But) worship God! We (you and I) all and you (singular) and brothers of you that are prophets of God, and people those all who obey the words that are in this book, we all serve one Lord.’” (Source: Donald Deer in The Bible Translator 1973, p. 207ff.)

complete verse (Revelation 22:20)

Following are a number of back-translations of Revelation 22:20:

  • Uma: “Yesus witnesses / bears testimony to all these words, and he says/said: ‘True! I am about to arrive.’ Amin! Come, Lord Yesus!” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “These are the words of the one who witnesses to all that is made known in this book, he says, ‘This is very certain. My coming is really close.’ Na, may it be so. Come, Isa, our (excl.) Lord.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Jesus, the one who confirms all of this, says, ‘It is really true that I am coming soon!’ And I say, ‘Yes, our Lord Jesus, come now!'” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “The one who confirms that all these-things are true, he says, ‘Truly my coming will-be soon.’ May it be so. Come (2nd pers. sg) Lord Jesus.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Jesus who testified to all this really is saying, ‘It’s certain that I will come before long.’ Therefore my response is, ‘My-desire-is that you truly will come now, my Lord Jesus!'” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The one who speaks the words here says: ‘It will be soon when I come,’ he says. It is good that this is so. Come Lord Jesus.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Kituba: “Jesus, person who shows that things those all must fall of truth, he says/is saying that ‘Yes, remains a-little I am coming!’” (Source: Donald Deer in The Bible Translator 1973, p. 207ff.)