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.

flesh (human nature)

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.

Accordingly, the translations are very varied:

The Toraja-Sa’dan translation uses a variety of terms for the translation of the same Greek term (click or tap here to see the rest of this insight)

  • A form of kale tolinona or “corporeal” is for instance used in Romans 9:5 or Colossians 1:22 (and also in Genesis 6:3 and Exodus 30:32)
  • A form of mentolinona or “the human” is for instance used in Matthew 16:17 or John 1:14
  • Phrases that include pa’kalean or “bodiliness” (also: “human shape”) are for instance used in Romans 6:6 or 1 Peter 2:11 (as well as in Isa 52:14, Isa 53:2, and Lamentations 4:7

(Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 207ff. )

See also spirit / flesh, old self, and flesh (John 1:14).

blameless (anegklétos)

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.”

See also blameless (amemptos).

glorify God

The Greek that is translated as “glorify God” in English is rendered as “to wake God up” in Guerrero Amuzgo.

Other translations are “say that God is very great” (Central Tarahumara), “how good God is, they said” (Tzotzil), “to speak about God as good” (Tzeltal), “to give God a great name” (Highland Puebla Nahuatl), “to give God highness” (Kipsigis), “to take God out high” (in the sense of “to exalt”) (Huautla Mazatec), “to make great, to exalt” (Toraja-Sa’dan, Javanese), “to lift up God’s brightness” (Kpelle), “to show God to be great” (Central Pame), “to make God shine” (Wayuu), “to make God’s name big” (Huastec), “to make God important” (Isthmus Zapotec) (source for this and above: Bratcher / Nida), or “say to God: You are of good heart” (Huichol) (source: Nida 1964, p. 228).

In Waama this is translated as “make God’s name big.” (For the translation into Waama, five categories of verb doxazo and the noun doxa were found that were all translated differently, see glorify (reveal God’s or Jesus’ glory to people)).

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)

conversion, convert, turn back

The Greek that is often rendered in English as “to be converted” or “to turn around” is (back-) translated in a number of ways:

  • North Alaskan Inupiatun: “change completely”
  • Purepecha: “turn around”
  • Highland Totonac: “have one’s life changed”
  • Huautla Mazatec: “make pass over bounds within”
  • San Blas Kuna: “turn the heart toward God”
  • Chol: “the heart turns itself back”
  • Highland Puebla Nahuatl: “self-heart change”
  • Pamona: “turn away from, unlearn something”
  • Tepeuxila Cuicatec: “turn around from the breast”
  • Luvale: “return”
  • Balinese: “put on a new behavior” (compare “repentance“: “to put on a new mind”)
  • Tzeltal: “cause one’s heart to return to God” (compare “repentance”: “to cause one’s heart to return because of one’s sin”)
  • Pedi: “retrace one’s step” (compare “repentance”: “to become untwisted”)
  • Uab Meto: “return” (compare “repentance”: “to turn the heart upside down”)
  • Northwestern Dinka: “turn oneself” (compare “repentance”: “to turn the heart”) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Central Mazahua: “change the heart” (compare “repentance”: “turn back the heart”) (source: Nida 1952, p. 40)
  • Western Kanjobal: “molt” (like a butterfly) (source: Nida 1952, p. 136)
  • Latvian: atgriezties (verb) / atgriešanās (noun) (“turn around / return”) which is also the same term being used for “repentance” (source: Katie Roth)
  • Isthmus Mixe: “look away from the teaching of one’s ancestors and follow the teachings of God”
  • Highland Popoluca: “leave one’s old beliefs to believe in Jesus” (source for thsi and above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)

deny oneself

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:

miracle, miraculous power

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).

See also wonder.

adjure (by God), implore (by God)

The Greek that is translated into English as “(I) implore (or: adjure) (you) by God” is translated as “tell you before God” (Copainalá Zoque), “ask in front of God” (Huautla Mazatec) “ask you by God” (Eastern Highland Otomi), “ask you in God’s presence” (Southern Subanen), “I swear, calling on the name of God, requesting you” (Toraja-Sa’dan), “I want your oath by God” (Indonesian), “will assure me by using a curse on yourself calling on the name of God” (Pamona), and “ask you; God has seen it” (Tzotzil).