complete verse (2Tim. 2:20-21) / Natügu

“Instead of the unnatural picture of some dishes being for noble use and others for ignoble, [the Natügu translators] used a related picture which is much more meaningful in the culture: ‘In our way, when a big man comes to our house, we give him very nice food, in our honouring him. But when we stay alone, we don’t habitually eat food like that given to him. And this is the talk-picture that we must follow. And we also will be like that good food if we purify ourselves from those bad things. Because it is we who are chosen to help our Lord. So, we are already prepared to do very nice things.'”


The Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek that is translated as “vision” in English is translated in a variety in the following languages:

  • Chol: “as if in a dream” (source: Robert Bascom)
  • Obolo: ilaak ọkpọchieen̄ or “dreaming awake” (source: Enene Enene)
  • Eastern Highland Otomi: “a showing like dreams”
  • Desano: “see in a dream what God will send”
  • Rincón Zapotec: “see what God shows”
  • Mayo: “see things from God as in a dream”
  • Lalana Chinantec: “dream how it is going to be”
  • Chuj: “like dreaming they see”
  • San Mateo del Mar Huave: “understand what they see as if in a dream”
  • Ayutla Mixtec: “see that which will happen” (source for this and seven above: Viola Waterhouse in Notes on Translation August 1966, p. 86ff.)
  • Chichewa: azidzaona zinthu m’masomphenya: “they will see things as if face-to-face” (interconfessional translation, publ. 1999) (Source: Wendland 1998, p. 69)

The Greek in the books of Revelation and Acts is translated as obq-rmwible: “look-dream” in Natügu. Brenda Boerger (in Beerle-Moor / Voinov, p. 162ff.) tells the story of that translation: “In the book of Revelation, the author, John, talks about having visions. Mr. Simon [the native language translator] and I discussed what this meant and he invented the compound verb obq-rmwible ‘look-dream’ to express it. Interestingly, during village testing no one ever had to ask what this neologism meant.”

See also see a vision.


The Hebrew that is typically translated as “banner” in English is translated in Natügu as nc nqngq: “rooster tail.”

Brenda Boerger (in Beerle-Moor / Voinov, p. 164) tells the story of that translation:

“Both bushes and trees use nc ‘tree’ as the first part of their compound forms. The nc nqngq or ‘rooster tail’ is a waist-high bush having long, narrow reddish leaves. While translating a battle text from the Psalms, we needed to find a translation equivalent to ‘banner’ or ‘standard’. Mr. Simon [the native language translator] told me that, previously, a war leader would cut rooster tail branches and put them in the back waistband of his loincloth to identify himself as the nqrlrvea ‘war leader’ during battle. The red color of the leaves made it easy for his warriors to find and follow him during battle. The war leader could also remove the leaves from his waistband and wave them in the air to rally his men to him. Alternatively, he could tie the branches to a stick to be flown as a battle standard. These two latter actions were what gave the secondary meaning of ‘banner’ or ‘standard’. Therefore, we used this concept to translate Psalm 60:4, which reads: Kxetu, nim ngrlrvea ngrgr. Glalzm nc nqngq bagr. ‘Bigman, you are our war leader. Lift up the ‘rooster tail banner’ for us.’

“As it turns out, even though inter-clan warfare is no longer practiced on Santa Cruz, younger people are still able to understand the practice today because the nc nqngq is integrally related to Santa Cruz’s most culturally significant dance, the nelc dance. Those who lead the dance wear nc nqngq branches just like the war leaders did previously. The senior translator’s testing of the passage in several villages confirmed that the meaning is accessible to younger speakers who can derive the accurate meaning from context based on their knowledge of the use of the leafy branches in the nelc dance.

“Turning to another tree metaphor, the sea trumpet or beach cordi is called nc niglq in Natügu. It grows close to the sea and can become quite tall, with thick, spreading branches. It has light orange trumpet-shaped flowers, which are favored by the small, red-colored mzngra bird. This habitat is significant because the feathers of this bird species are used to make either Irdq red feather money coils or nceapu red feather money sticks.

“To Santa Cruz people, a man who has a niglq tree where the mzngra birds are found has a good chance of acquiring wealth. As a result, the tree name is associated with wealth and prestige and has acquired four metonymic meanings in which the name of the tree is substituted for other nouns. The four metonymies are: important person, important person’s house, treasure, and throne. So, someone having this tree near his home is an important person, and he can be said to come and go to the tree, rather than to the house. Further, he has access to treasure since the tree is a means to wealth. And finally, nc niglq can also mean ‘throne’ or ‘seat of power’, in that an important man who has a niglq tree on his property might sit at its base to converse with others, and by association, the place where the important one sits is his throne.”

“In addition to the red feather money coils which were previously used for paying bride price, the red feathers also come in a stick form, called nceapu, where they are glued to a stick about 10-12 inches long. The red feather money stick itself also has the metaphorical meaning of ‘rich, wise man,’ which was used to describe King Solomon in the Natügu scriptures.”


The Hebrew and the Greek that are translated as “covenant” in English are translated in a variety of ways. Here are some (back-) translations:

  • Mossi: “helping promise”
  • Vai: “a thing-time-bind” (i.e. “an arrangement agreed upon for a period of time”)
  • Loma (Liberia): “an agreement”
  • Northwestern Dinka: “agreement which is tied up” (i.e. “secure and binding”)
  • Chol: “a word which is left”
  • Huastec: “a broken-off word” (“based on the concept of ‘breaking off a word’ and leaving it with the person with whom an agreement has been reached”)
  • Tetelcingo Nahuatl: “a death command” (i.e. “a special term for testament”)
  • Piro: “a promised word”
  • Eastern Krahn: “a word between”
  • Yaka: “promise that brings together” (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Q’anjob’al: “put mouths equal” (representing agreement) (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff.)
  • Manikion, Indonesian: “God’s promise” (source: Daud Soesilo)
  • Natügu: nzesz’tikr drtwr: “oneness of mind” (source: Brenda Boerger in Beerle-Moor / Voinov, p. 164)
  • Tagalog: tipan: mutual promising on the part of two persons agreeing to do something (also has a romantic touch and denotes something secretive) (source: G. Henry Waterman in The Bible Translator 1960, p. 24ff.)
  • Guhu-Samane: “The concept [in Mark 14:24 and Matthew 16:28] is not easy, but the ritual freeing of a fruit and nut preserve does afford some reference. Thus, ‘As they were drinking he said to them, ‘On behalf of many this poro provision [poro is the traditional religion] of my blood is released.’ (…) God is here seen as the great benefactor and man the grateful recipient.” (Source: Ernest Richert in The Bible Translator, 1965, p. 81ff.)
Law (2013, p. 95) writes about how the Ancient Greek Septuagint‘s translation of the Hebrew berith was used by the New Testament writers as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments (click or tap here to read more):

“Right from the start we witness the influence of the Septuagint on the earliest expressions of the Christian faith. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of his blood being a kaine diatheke, a ‘new covenant.’ The covenant is elucidated in Hebrews 8:8-12 and other texts, but it was preserved in the words of Jesus with this language in Luke 22:20 when at the Last Supper Jesus said, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Jesus’s blood was to provide the grounds for the ‘new covenant,’ in contrast to the old one his disciples knew from the Jewish scriptures (e.g., Jeremiah 31:31-34). Thus, the earliest Christians accepted the Jewish Scriptures as prophecies about Jesus and in time began to call the collection the ‘Old Testament’ and the writings about Jesus and early Christianity the ‘New Testament,’ since ‘testament’ was another word for ‘covenant.’ The covenant promises of God (berith in Hebrew) were translated in the Septuagint with the word diatheke. In classical Greek diatheke had meant ‘last will, testament,’ but in the Septuagint it is the chosen equivalent for God’s covenant with his people. The author of Hebrews plays on the double meaning, and when Luke records Jesus’ announcement at the Last Supper that his blood was instituting a ‘new covenant,’ or a ‘new testament,’ he is using the language in an explicit contrast with the old covenant, found in the Jewish scriptures. Soon, the writings that would eventually be chosen to make up the texts about the life and teachings of Jesus and the earliest expression of the Christian faith would be called the New Testament. This very distinction between the Old and New Testaments is based on the Septuagint’s language.”