bed, mat

The Greek terms that are translated “mat” or “bed” or similar in English are translated in Ebira as odooro or “stretcher.” Hans-Jürgen Scholz (in Holzhausen 1991, p. 42f.) explains the long odyssey of finding the right term: The regular term for “bed” (ode) didn’t work since this only referred to the traditional raised mud floor used for sleeping which was unmovable and could not be used in the story. The term iveedi was used for a movable bed with a metal frame also did not work since it exclusively referred to modern beds imported from Japan which of course could also not be used in the context of the story. The word for “mat” (uvene) was also impossible to use since traditional mats are fragile and and could not possible be used to lower someone down from the roof. Finally the term odooro for “stretcher” was used.

Still the first version that used that term and said “roll up your stretcher and leave” still had to be changed one more time since stretchers are traditionally made of old rags and only used once. Therefore in the final text it had to be emphasized that the odooro had to be just cleared out of the house as a courtesy by the healed paralytic rather than to be kept for further use.

The Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) uses Bahr, also “stretcher.” (source: Zetzsche)

put his arms around him and kissed him

The Greek that is translated as “put his arms around him and kissed him” or similar in English is translated in the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) as is em um de Hals gfalle un hot en abgekisst or “he flung his arms around his neck and smothered him with kisses.” (Source: Zetzsche)

tenants (of a vineyard) / winegrower

The Greek that is translated as “tenants (of a vineyard)” or similar in English is translated in the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) as Winzer and in Luxembourghish as Wënzer, both “winemaker (vintner).” The area were Pfälzisch and Luxembourghish are spoken are traditional wine making areas and this is the commonly used term.

The same term is also used in John 15:1 for (English) “winegrower.” (Source: Zetzsche)

see the tomb

The Greek that is translated as “see the tomb” or similar in English is translated in the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) colloquially as ans Grab hiegange und wollde nooch em Rechde gugge or “went to the tomb to check whether everything is OK.” (Source: Zetzsche)

amazed, astonished, marvel

The Greek that is translated as “astonished” or “amazed” or “marvel” in English is translated in Pwo Karen as “stand up very tall.” (In John 5:20, source: David Clark)

Elsewhere it is translated as “confusing the inside of the head” (Mende), “shiver in the liver” (Uduk, Laka), “to lose one’s heart” (Mískito, Tzotzil), “to shake” (Southern Bobo Madaré), “to be with mouth open” (Panao Huánuco Quechua) (source: Bratcher / Nida), “to stand with your mouth open” (Citak) (source: Stringer 2007, p. 120), “ceasing to think with the heart” (Bulu), or “surprise in the heart” (Yamba) (source for this and one above: W. Reyburn in The Bible Translator 1959, p. 1ff. ).

In Mark 5:20 and elsewhere where the astonishment is a response to listening to Jesus, the translation is “listened quietly” in Central Tarahumara, “they forgot listening” (because they were so absorbed in what they heard that they forgot everything else) in San Miguel El Grande Mixtec, “it was considered very strange by them” in Tzeltal (source: Bratcher / Nida), “in glad amazement” (to distinguish it from other kinds of amazement) (Quetzaltepec Mixe) (source: Robert Bascom), or “breath evaporated” (Mairasi) (source: Enngavoter 2004).

In Western Dani astonishment is emphasized with direct speech. In Mark 1:22, for instance, it says: “Wi!” yinuk, pi wareegwaarak — “They were all amazed, saying ‘Oh'” (source: Lourens De Vries in The Bible Translator 1992, p. 333ff. )

In Low German it is translated as grote Oken maken or “make big eyes” (sometime followed by: un kreegn dat Stillswiegen: “and became silent”) (translation by Johannes Jessen, publ. 1933, republ. 2006).

In the Kölsch translation (publ. 2017) it is translated as brummte de Lück de Kopp or “the heads of the people buzzed,” Bauklötz jestaunt, lit. “marvel toy blocks,” and vür Staune de Muhl nit mieh zojekräch or “so full of marvel that they couldn’t close their mouths again.”

In the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) it is often translated as baff vor staune or “speechless because of their marvel.” (source: Zetzsche)(Source: Jost Zetzsche)

See also amazed and astonished.

magi, wise men

The Greek magoi originally referred to Persian Zoroastrian “priests who were experts in astrology and in the interpretation of dreams. But the word may also be used in a derogatory sense of ‘magician’ or ‘charlatan,’ a meaning which it has in its only other New Testament occurrences outside Matthew’s nativity narrative (Acts 13:6,8). Matthew most likely has Babylonian astrologers in mind.” (Source: Newman / Stine; see also this interview .)

While most English translations either transliterate this as “magi” or translate it as “wise men,” most German versions (with the exceptions of Luther and Menge [publ. 1909]) use Sterndeuter, an old-fashioned term for astrologer. The Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) uses Sternegugger, also an old-fashioned term for astrologer with the verbatim meaning of “star watchers.”

In Luxembourgish, it is translated as weis Astronomen or “wise astronomers.” (Source: Zetzsche)

In Kwakum it is translated as “guardians of religious rites who look up at the starts to see the things to come” or “guardians of religions rites.” (Source: Stacey Hare in this post )

See also complete verse (Matthew 2:1).


The now commonly-used German idiom die Augen gehen über (literally “the eyes overflow”), which today primarily means “amazed” (in the sense of “making big eyes”) was made popular in 1522 in the German New Testament translation by Martin Luther.

For other idioms or terms in German that were coined by Bible translation, see here.

In Burmese, the widely-used translation by Judson adds an honorific particle to every verb that describes an action of Jesus, so here he “cries royally.” (source: S.V. Vincent in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 196f. )

In the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) it is idiomatically translated as (Do sin Jesus) die Träne kumme, literally “Jesus’ tears came.” (source: Zetzsche)

make an end of all flesh

The Hebrew that is translated as “make an end of all flesh” or similar in English is translated in the Pfälzisch translation by Walter Sauer (publ. 2012) as mit de ganze Menschheit Schluss mache or “put an end to all humanity.” (source: Zetzsche)