The Greek that is often translated as “flesh” in English (when referring to the lower human nature) can, according to Nida (1947, p. 153) “very rarely be literally translated into another language. ‘My meat’ or ‘my muscle’ does not make sense in most languages.” He then gives a catalog of almost 30 questions to determine a correct translation for that term.
The Greek that is translated as “blameless” or “guiltless” or similar in English is translated in Huautla Mazatec as ni̱jme jìn kjoa̱ xi chꞌao tjín koansjaitꞌain or “do not find any ugly / bad matter for them.” Jean Paul Gotopo Maldonado who is participating in the work on a new translation explains: “In Huautla Mazatec there is no term to indicate the irreproachable character of a person, therefore this concept is described with a phrase.”
The Greek term that is translated as a form of “save” in English is translated in Shipibo-Conibo with a phrase that means literally “make to live,” which combines the meaning of “to rescue” and “to deliver from danger,” but also the concept of “to heal” or “restore to health.”
In San Blas Kuna it is rendered as “help the heart,” in Laka, it is “take by the hand” in the meaning of “rescue” or “deliver,” in Huautla Mazatec the back-translation of the employed term is “lift out on behalf of,” in Anuak, it is “have life because of,” in Central Mazahua “be healed in the heart,” in Baoulé “save one’s head” (meaning to rescue a person in the fullest sense), in Guerrero Amuzgo “come out well,” in Northwestern Dinka “be helped as to his breath” (or “life”) (source: Bratcher / Nida), and in Nyongarbarrang-ngandabat or “hold life” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).
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:
Bauzi: “good on top person” (source: David Briley in Kroneman (2004), p. 502)
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.”
In Shipibo-Conibo it is translated as “to brag about God” (“This may strike some at first as being an unspiritual approach, but it surely is Pauline, for Paul used the word ‘to brag’ when he declared his confidence in Jesus Christ and in the salvation of the world which God wrought through His Son.”) (Source: Nida 1952, p. 162)
The Greek that is translated with “deny himself” or “deny oneself” is according to Bratcher / Nida “without doubt one of the most difficult expressions in all of Mark to translate adequately.” These are many of the (back-) translations:
The Greek and Hebrew that are often translated as “miracles” or “miraculous powers” into English are translated as “thing which no one has ever seen before” (San Blas Kuna), “thing marveled at” (Tepeuxila Cuicatec), “breathtaking thing” (Ngäbere), “long-necked thing” (referring to the onlookers who stretch their necks to see) (Huautla Mazatec), “sign done by God’s power” (Mossi), “supernatural power” (Javanese), “thing that has heaven-strength” (Highland Totonac) (source for all above: Bratcher / Nida), “amazing thing” (Muna) (source: René van den Berg), “sign no one else could do” (Tenango Otomi) (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125), or “impossible thing” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).
The phrase that is translated as “there is no fear in love” in English has been translated in Huautla Mazatec as “he who really loves forgets to be afraid.” “The concepts of love and fear must be expressed by verbs, not nouns, and hence an actor must be expressed. Furthermore, the relationship indicated by the English ‘in’ must be radically altered, for though in can express the relationship of objects to each other in Huautla Mazatec, it does not show the relationship of events, as it does in English.” (Source: Nida 1964, p. 196).
Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)
The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).
For this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form (excluding the addressee). SIL International (1999) notes that it’s only possible that an exclusive form, only referring to Paul himself, might be intended.
Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.
Mal uses 4 forms of the first-person plural pronoun: inclusive dual “we” (includes the person that the speaker addresses), exclusive dual “we” (includes the speaker plus another person but excludes the person that the speaker addresses), inclusive plural “we” (includes all persons that the speaker addresses), exclusive plural “we” (includes the speaker plus at least two other persons but excludes the other persons person that the speaker addresses).
In this verse the Mal translation is using the inclusive plural form, including all addressees.
Source: David Filbeck in The Bible Translator 1994, p. 401ff.
Following are a number of back-translations of Acts 28:31:
Uma: “Without any fear/uneasiness, he announced to them that Yesus was Lord and the Redeemer King, and he taught them the way to become God’s people in his Kingdom. And there were none who bothered him.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “He proclaimed about God’s ruling and he taught/preached about Isa Almasi, the Lord. He had no fear-whatever to teach/preach and nobody restrained/forbade him.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “He caused them to understand how the kinging of God would be and he taught them who our Lord Jesus Christ is. He did not hide his teaching and neither did anyone tell him to stop.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “He was bold to preach and teach concerning the ruling of God and the Lord Jesu Cristo, and no one forbid him. That’s that.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “He taught them well concerning the kingdom of God, and all the teaching concerning the Lord Jesu-Cristo. And there was no-one at all who forbade him.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
Lalana Chinantec: “Just exactly as he wanted, he preached how God is the boss of people’s hearts. He taught the word of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was no one who prevented Paul from preaching the Word.” (Source: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)