complete verse (John 1:2)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:2:

  • Tenango Otomi: ” Before the world was made, he already was the companion of God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Since the beginning the Word and God were certainly one.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “There at the creation of all things he already was before a companion of God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)

complete verse (John 1:4)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:4:

  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And this Word of God, he also is the source of life which is forever. And this life is like light because it illuminates the darkness in the minds of all mankind.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Uma: “He is the source of life,
    and He is the light that enlightens the hearts of mankind.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “This one who is called Word, his life is far-from-ordinary, it being the source of life of all people. And this one is the like-a-light/most-important-light so that people will be enlightened.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “He is that one who gives the new life. He is that one who opens the hearts of (= who gives understanding to) the people so that they know what is true. He who gives the new life is like a light that opens the hearts of the people.” (Source: Tenago Otomi Back Translation)

complete verse (John 1:13)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:13:

  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “They are his children, not because they were born physically, and not because a man lusted after a woman, and not because a man wanted to have children. God made them his children.”
  • Tenango Otomi: To become children of God doesn’t mean that they live anew like the children of people are born, or that some person wanted it thus. It is that God alone caused them to be his children.”
  • Huichol: “Their origin is not the ordinary human birth, nor is it a matter of attraction between their parents in the usual human way, nor is it a matter of a man wanting to form a posterity. . . . ” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The way by which they became children of God was not the way of bearing children here on the earth, because they were not at that time born by means of the procreation of an earthly father, but rather their father is God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “It’s not that they got to be children of God because they were given birth to by God like human giving-birth or because of the nature/ways or will of a married-couple, but on the contrary they became-children/were-adopted through the will of God.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

complete verse (John 1:14)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:14:

  • Aguaruna: “That word, when he arrived here, was born a human being, and in this way he lived with us. That completely good person was a speaker of the truth. And also we came to know his greatness because his Father, God, had said to his only Son, ‘You are great.'”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “The Person who is the Word was born human and he was with us. He loved mankind very much and he taught mankind all the true words of God. We saw him and we realized that he is the Person of greatest worth because he is the only Son of our Father God.”
  • Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac: “And the One who is called Word, he became a Person, and he lived in our midst. And we saw how he had power. That power is that of the only Son of Father God. He is very kind and merciful and all which he says it is true.”
  • Tenango Otomi: “He who makes known what God is like became a person. He lived here where we live. We saw that he is the greatest. He is the greatest because he is God’s only Son. He spoke only what is true and loves the people without limit.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And the one called the Word of God became human and joined himself to us. He is very gracious and his words are very true. We saw his great high rank which is the high rank of the only child of God. And as for that high rank of his, it was given to him by his Father God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “So-then, the Word appeared/was-born here in the world having a human body and living among mankind. All love and truth was there with him. We (excl) were-able to see his power and his brightness, and this his power and brightness were fitting for him for he is the only Son of God.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Uma: “That Word, he became man[kind], and he lived among us (incl.). We (excl.) saw his power. That power of his he received from his Father, for He is the Only Child. [It is] from him that we know God and his grace [lit., white insides; see grace] to us.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “The Word, he became a person and stayed-with us (ex). He was consistently-compassionate and what he said was all true. We (ex) saw his godhood which was the godhood of the only Child of God who came-from his Father.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)

complete verse (John 1:16)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:16:

  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “And since he has much love, for that reason we all receive many favors which he does for us.”
  • Ojitlán Chinantec: “His heart is good to the fullest. Therefore he makes his heart good to us day after day.”
  • Aguaruna: “He is truly goodness, and so he does good to us also.”
  • Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac: “He has done for us many kindnesses since he is very kind and merciful.”
  • Tojolabal: “He has everything, and he has given us many favors.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Yakan: “Because there with the Word is all the love, we (incl) all also profit/have a share in his love and help. His love and help is added to us (incl) all the time/increasingly.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And since he is very gracious, the good thing which he blesses all of us with never stop.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Uma: “There is no end to his love, and from his love he blesses us all, there is no end to the blessing we receive from him.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)

complete verse (John 1:17)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:17:

  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “Moses taught the ancestors of us Israelites the law of God, but Jesus Christ came to teach that God loves mankind, and he teaches us all the true words of God.”
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “The law about the things of God, the one who gave it was Moses. But the love which was to us and the truth came into being because of Jesus Christ.”
  • Umiray Dumaget Agta: “Even though Moses was caused to speak the rules of God, Jesus Christ was the one appointed to show mercy and to declare the truth.”
  • Guerrero Amuzgo: “. . . but Jesus Christ is the source of all favor and of the words that are true.”
  • Chol: “Jesus Christ came and gave us the goodness of his heart and truth.”
  • Tenango Otomi: “By means of Moses the law of God is known. But by means of Jesus Christ the love of God and the true word are known.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And by means of Moses, God brought down to earth the laws. But by means of Jesus, God brought down to earth his love/grace for us and the true doctrine.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Uma: “From the prophet Musa we received the Law of the Lord God. But [it is] from Yesus Kristus that we really know God, and his grace to us.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because God gave his laws to Moises which he was commanding us, but that grace/mercy of his and truth concerning himself, he caused us to comprehend through Jesu-Cristo.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

northeaster

The Greek that is translated as “But soon a violent wind, called the northeaster (or: Euroclydon), rushed down from Crete” or similar in English is translated in a lot of different ways:

  • Upper Guinea Crioulo: “A great storm rose up on the side of the island that came against them.” (“The point wasn’t the name of the wind [nor’easter]. All of these nautical terms can be difficult for people who aren’t seafaring. The point wasn’t so much which cardinal direction the wind was coming from. The point was that the wind was coming from a direction that made it impossible for them to go in the direction they wanted to go. This is further explained in the following verse.”) (Source: David Frank)
  • Caluyanun: “Not long-afterward, the wind from the aminhan/northeast got-strong, which was from the land-area of the island of Crete.” (“’Aminhan’ is the common direction of the wind during half the year.”) (Source: Kermit Titrud)
  • Northern Emberá: “But soon a bad wind called the Euroclidon blew forcefully from the right hand.” (“When we have to specify north and south we use left hand and right hand, respectively. But in Acts 27:14, the Northeaster wind comes from the right, hitting the right side of the ship as they headed west.”) (Source: Chaz Mortensen)
  • Amele: “But shortly a strong wind called Jawalti blowing from the direction of the sun coming up to the left came up.” (“East is cam tobec isec ‘the direction the sun comes up’ and west is cam tonec/nec isec ‘the direction the sun goes/comes down.’ ‘Jawalti’ is a local name for the wind that blows down from the north coast of Madang. ‘Sea corner’ is the Amele term for ‘harbour‘”) (Source: John Roberts)
  • Mairasi: “But after not a very long time at all already a very big wind blew from behind us. In Greek that wind is called ‘Eurokulon’ from over there in the north and east. It blew down from that island itself.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Kankanaey: “But it wasn’t long, a swift wind arrived from the upper-part of Creta.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And it wasn’t a long time from then, we were typhooned. A very strong wind arrived which was called Abagat. The wind came from the direction of the land.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But before we had been sailing for long, suddenly/unexpectedly the wind changed again to an off-shore wind of tremendous strength. Euraclidon was what the people from there called that wind.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Uma: “But in fact not long after that, a big wind came from the land, a wind called Sea Storm.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But not long after, a very strong wind blew from the coast.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)

See also cardinal directions / left and right and cardinal directions (north, south, east, west).

cardinal directions

The cardinal directions “east” and “west” are easy to translate into Mano (Mann) here since the language uses “where the sun comes up” and “where the sun goes down.” For “north” the translator had “facing toward the sun rising to the left,” and for “south” she had “facing toward the sun rising to the right.” So the listener had to think hard before knowing what direction was in view when translating “to the north and south, to the east and west.” So the verse was very long. It was shortened by saying simply “all directions.” Likewise, Yakan has “from the four corners of the earth” (source: Yakan back-translation) or Western Bukidnon Manobo “from the four directions here on the earth” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo back-translation).

Kankanaey is “from the coming-out and the going-away of the sun and the north and the south” (source: Kankanaey back-translation), Northern Emberá “from where the sun comes up, from where it falls, from the looking [left] hand, from the real [right] hand” (source: Charles Mortensen), Amele “from the direction of the sun going up, from the direction of the sun going down, from the north and from the south” (source: John Roberts), Ejamat “look up to see the side where the sun comes from, and the side where it sets, and look on your right side, and on your left” (source: David Frank in this blog post).

In Lamba, only umutulesuŵa, “where the sun rises” and imbonsi, “where the sun sets” were available as cardinal directions that were not tied to the local area of language speakers (“north” is kumausi — “to the Aushi country” — and “south” kumalenje — “to the Lenje country”). So “north” and “south” were introduced as loanwords, nofu and saufu respectively. The whole phrase is “kunofu nakusaufu nakumutulesuŵa nakumbonsi.” (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff.)

See also cardinal directions / left and right.

complete verse (John 3:16)

Following are a number of back-translation of John 3:16:

  • Tezoatlán Mixtec: “For since God loves very much the people of this world, therefore he gave his only son to arrive in this world, and whoever trusts in him, they will never die. Instead they will be able to live forever.” (’Chi̱ sa̱ꞌá ña̱ kúꞌu̱ nda̱ꞌo ini Ndios sa̱ꞌá ña̱yuu ndéi iin níí kúú ñayuú, sa̱ꞌá ño̱ó ni̱ xi̱ꞌo na iin tóꞌón dini̱ de̱ꞌe na ni̱ ka̱sáa̱ na̱ ñayuú yóꞌo, dá kía̱n ndi ndáa mií vá ña̱yuu ná kandeé ini ñaá, ni iin kuu̱ ta̱ꞌón o̱ ku̱ú na̱. Diꞌa koni na̱ kataki chíchí ná.)
  • Ayutla Mixtec: “Because since God loves so much the people of this world, therefore he sent me, his only son to this world. So whoever trusts in me, they will never die before God, instead they will receive life that never ends.” (’Kua̱chi̱ ndii kundani̱ yaꞌa̱ Ndiosí ne̱ yivi̱ꞌ i̱i̱n yivi̱ꞌ, sa̱kanꞌ na ni̱ ti̱ꞌviꞌ a̱ yuꞌu̱, ña̱ nduuꞌ siꞌe̱ a̱ ña̱ i̱i̱n nda̱a̱ꞌ tilu̱ꞌ, i̱i̱n yivi̱ꞌ yoꞌoꞌ. Te̱ yo̱o̱ ka̱ i̱ni̱ xini yuꞌu̱ ndii, kö̱o̱ꞌ kivi̱ꞌ ku̱vi̱ ni̱a̱ nuu̱ꞌ Ndiosí, süu̱ꞌ ja̱a̱nꞌ ndii na̱ti̱i̱n ni̱a̱ kivi̱ꞌ ñu̱u̱ ña̱ kö̱o̱ꞌ kivi̱ꞌ ndiꞌiꞌ.)
  • Uma: “Like this God loves all people in the world, with the result that he gave his Only Child, so that whoever believes in that his Child, they will not receive punishment/condemnation, but they will receive good life forever.” (Hewa toi-mi Alata’ala mpoka’ahi’ hawe’ea tauna hi dunia’, alaa-na napewai’ Ana’-na to Hadudua, bona hema–hema to mepangala’ hi Ana’-na toe, uma-ra mporata huku’, tapi’ mporata-ra katuwua’ to lompe’ duu’ kahae–hae-na.)
  • Kankanaey: “Since God’s love for people in this world is great, he sent his only Child so that whoever believes in him, he would not be separated from God to be punished, but rather there would be in him life that has no end.” (Gapo ta peteg di layad Diyos sin ipogaw isnan lobong, inbaa na din bogbogtong ay Anak na ta say mo sino di mamati en sisya, adi kaisian en Diyos ta madosa, mo adi et wada en sisya di biyag ay iwed patingga na.)
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “God very much loves the people who live here on earth. Therefore he sent his only son to be killed in order that every one who believes in him will not be lost, rather he will have the new life forever.” (Nguetho ɛ̨mmɛ di huɛ̨gahʉ Oją gue dí ‘bʉhmbʉ ua ja ra ximhäi. Janangue’a bi ‘dajʉ rá ‘dats’ʉnt’ʉ ngue ma yąntehʉ, n’damhma hin da nu ran ʉnbi maząi to’o gätho di däp rá mbʉi a, pɛgue din t’un ra ‘da’yote maząi.)
  • Tagbanwa: “For God really values very much all people here under the heavens. Therefore he gave his one-and-only Son, so that as for whoever will believe-in/obey and trust-in/rely-on him, he won’t get to go there to suffering/hardship, but on the contrary he will be given life without ending.” (Ka talagang pagrarasan nga banar it Ampuꞌang Diyus i muꞌsang taw situt sinirungat langit. Aypaꞌ ibinggay yay Anak ya nga paeꞌesa-esa, isaꞌun in siyuy mamayaꞌ baw sumarig it kanya, ega kaꞌaduꞌun it kakuriꞌan, in daꞌga mabgayan kanyat kaꞌgenan nga egay kaskedan.)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “All mankind is very big in the breath of God and because of this, even his only son he did not hold back, but rather he sent him here so that all who believe in him, their souls will not be punished, but rather they will be given life without end.” (Utew mahal ziyà te g̵ehinawa te Megbevayà is tivuuk he menusiyà, ne tenged kayi minsan sikan is budtung he Anak din wazè din menug̵uni, kekenà, impehendini zin su wey is langun he edtuu kandin, kenà mesiluti is gimukud dan, kekenà, meveg̵ayi sikandan te untung he wazà pidtemanan.)
  • Miahuatlán Zapotec: “Because God greatly loves people of the world, because of it, God sent his only son to earth so that all men who believe in God’s son, those men will not be lost to the evil thing. On the contrary, they will have life forever.” (Tac Diox axta arid nazin’ mèn no nque’ lezo’ Diox ñèe Diox mèn loo izlyo’. Por cona, mtel’ Diox angoluxte xgan’ Diox loo izlyo’ par gàca le’ ryete mèn co’ yila’s loo xgan’ Diox, ne’quexù’de Diox mèna par co’ xà’ Diox mèna loo Diox yiloa. Ndxe’leque’, yòo ban no mèna Diox thidtene yiloa.) (Source for this and above: John Williams in the Seeing Scripture Anew blog.)
  • Yakan: “God really loved mankind, therefore he gave/handed over his only Son to be killed so that all who trust in his Son will not be separated from God but will live forever there in the presence of God.” (Kinalasahan teꞌed weꞌ Tuhanin manusiyaꞌin, hangkan sinōngan weꞌ ne Anakne dambuwaꞌ-buwaꞌin pinapatey, supaya kēmon masandel si Anaknen gaꞌi pasapeꞌ amban Tuhan saguwaꞌ ellum siye salama-lama laꞌi si panaꞌanan Tuhanin.) (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Daniel Shaw reflects on the complex translation of this verse into Samo. Click here to see the story.

    As I learned in Sunday school, John 3:16 is what the Bible is all about — the Gospel in a nutshell. But how was I to communicate this verse without these key words? Like any other language, Samo is not deficient. I knew Nida and Taber’s famous dictum, ‘If it can be said in one language, it can be said in another.’ I quickly realized I had to get beyond the horizontal and surface plane. This was not just about how to translate John 3:16. That would have been simply a matter of applying translation principles to a particular language problem — a transposition of human ideas. Rather, I wanted to help them deal with the theological issue of who God is: God’s power, God’s relationship with human beings, and the far-reaching implications of that relationship for dealing with is¬sues of life, death, and eternal life. I needed to get beyond the immediate text to the whole of Scripture and allow the Samo to stand in awe at this incredible God who included them in his plan for humanity. What could this mean for them individually and as a group of former cannibals living in the dense rain forest on the Island of New Guinea?

    As a translator I knew how to solve the lexical and semantic problems. As an anthropologist I knew the importance of considering both the cultural setting of those who first received John’s Gospel, as well as the need to understand the Samo culture. I knew the value of analyzing collocational ranges. I appreciated the value of text /communication styles and how these are used for effective presentation of a mes¬sage. I also knew the Samo were aware of a ‘guy in the sky’ who was always ready to zap them when they did wrong (mothers would caution playing children not to make too much noise lest they attract his attention). But this was not the concept of God characterized in John 3:16 by the apostle.
    Eventually I discovered the concept of the ayo, of the oldest among a group of brothers who lived in a longhouse. This was a benevolent, caring man who was never in charge but always in control — a traffic director for the entire household. They spoke of him as ‘the authority person.’ When combined with an all-inclusive possessive pronoun this term eventually became the term we used for God — oye ayo, ‘our authority person.’ (See God.) When extended to all the people who ‘sleep in all the places of the earth’ (a way to communicate ‘the world’ — see world) the Samo began to appreciate God in a whole new way, in relationship to themselves and to their enemies.

    The relationship between the ayo and those in a longhouse reflected a strong, caring concern for everyone in the household — ‘love.’ For the Samo, a very practical, down to earth people surviving in a hostile environment, belief was a matter of experience. How do they know something is true? They see it, hear it, feel it! In short, they experience truth. This has profound implications far beyond trying to translate John 3:16. It relates to the broader context of all of John chapter 3, including Nicodemus’s awe of Christ and Israel’s experience with the brass serpent in the desert, particular experiences tied to the history of a specific people in a particular time and place. More broadly, it is about how humans experience God.

    As a Bible translator I was, in fact, communicating through this verse in its place within a text, an entire semantic constellation tied to the very purpose of Scripture. Suddenly the Samo found themselves in the flow of human involvement with a caring God who knew them and wanted to have an intimate, family-type rela¬tionship with them — not merely sit in judgment and zap them without warning. As a result of understanding John 3:16, the Samo also found themselves in relationship with people beyond their recognized circle of alliance, with the whole of humanity beyond their borders, including people they normally considered enemies (see thief (parable of the wise householder)). That the ‘one in control’ of their feared enemies, the Bedamoni, also had authority over them was not only revelatory, it was transforming. This new understanding — experienced through relationship — had eternal implications for a ‘life that would not end’ and gave insight to a spirit world populated by evil beings, but also included the pool of ancestors who constantly reentered the world to energize a newborn baby and move through the cycle of life once again to join the ancestors and assist the living in their struggle. These new and far-reaching theological in¬sights relating to the Samo also challenged my understanding of the text, forced me to reevaluate my own assumptions, and made me appreciate more deeply the Samo from whom I learned so much about God. (Source: Shaw / Van Engen 2003, p. 177f.)

complete verse (John 1:1)

Following are a number of back-translations of John 1:1:

  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “The Word was living when there was still nothing at all. And that Word lived in the same place God did. And that Word was God himself.”
  • Yatzachi Zapotec: “When the world began, the person who is the Word was already present. He was with God and the person who is the Word was God.”
  • Chol: “In the beginning of the world there already was the Word. This Word already was with God. This Word was (and still is) God.” (Source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Long ago before anything was created, the one who is titled the Word of God already was. This Word of God, he already was with God and he is God.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Before the world and heavens/sky was laid-down/spread-out (i.e. existed), there was already Jesus who is called Word/Speech of God. This one referred to as Word, he was already there in the presence of God. Not just in the presence of God but on the contrary, this Word who is Jesus, he indeed is the one who is this God.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “The Son of God makes it known how God is. When the world was made, already he was living. He was in fellowship with God. He also is God.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)