ponder

The Greek that is translated as “ponder” in English is translated as “continually think-about” in Tboli, “turn around in the mind” in Batak Toba, “puzzle forth, puzzle back” in Sranan Tongo (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), “constantly setting down her visions” in Mairasi (source: Enggavoter 2004), or “moved them in her heart” (bewegte sie in ihrem Herzen) (German Luther translation).

right mind, sound-minded

The Greek that is rendered as “in his right mind” or “sound-minded” in English is translated as “his mind had returned” (Amganad Ifugao), “his heart was sitting down” (Tojolabal), “his head was healed” (Chicahuaxtla Triqui), “his mind was straightened” (Tzotzil), “with a clear mind again” (Javanese), “come to his senses” (Indonesian) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida), “come to his cleanness/purity” (Marathi), “(his) thoughts having become right” (Ekari), “his intelligence having-become clean again” (Sranan Tongo), “having-mind” (Batak Toba), “settled his mind” (Tae’), “settled/fixed” (Balinese) (source for this and five above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), or “had well-split vision” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).

hate

The Greek that is translated as “who hate us” is translated in some languages through the negation of its opposite, such as “who do not love/like us” (Ekari). Other solutions include “who cannot see us in the eye (i.e. who cannot stand us at any price)” (Sranan Tongo) or “the ones with swelling jugular vein (because of suppressed anger)” (Uab Meto).

See also hate.

council

The Greek that is translated as “council” or “Council” in English is (back-) translated in a variety of ways:

  • Tzeltal: “officials who gather together”
  • Copainalá Zoque: “those who think together”
  • Amaganad Ifugao: “those who take charge of the affairs” (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Ekari: “place for speech-making/discussion”
  • Tae’: “great assembly”
  • Sranan Tongo, Javanese: “(high) tribunal”
  • Marathi: “assembly of their Judgement-court” (source for this and three above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

dragon

For the Greek that is translated as “dragon” in English, the Bawm Chin translation uses a term referring to a mythical serpent (source: David Clark), Sranan Tongo uses the local bigi kaiman or “big Caiman” (source: Jabini 2015, p. 33) and Chinese translation typically use lóng 龙/龍 which brings it in conflict with Chinese culture where lóng 龙 has a highly positive connotation.

Simon Wong explains:

“The translation process often involves finding the lexical equivalent in the receptor language for words or expressions in the source language. If finding the equivalent of concrete objects from ancient times is challenging, identifying the equivalent for mythical (or legendary) figures is nearly unimaginable. In the English-speaking world (or perhaps in most European contexts), what is represented by the English word ‘dragon’ is often portrayed as monsters to be tamed or overcome, but in Chinese culture, lóng 龙 (traditional script: 龍), the commonly accepted Chinese equivalent of ‘dragon’ always represents a cultural mascot of good fortune. It is the highest-ranking animal in the Chinese animal hierarchy; it is even surmised that the pronunciation represents the sound of thunder. Dragons were also identified with the emperors of China in the old days; ordinary people were not allowed to use any portrait of the dragon. It is only a relatively recent expression that the Chinese are called ‘people of the dragon’ and that its portrait is popularized. Many East Asian deities and demigods have dragons as their personal mounts or companions.

“The author of Revelation used the Greek δράκων (which is translated into English as ‘dragon’) to represent the mythical Satanic incarnation coming down from heaven. The most popular Protestant Chinese version (Chinese Union Version published in 1919) renders this Greek word δράκων as lóng 龙. This rendering represents a long tradition that can be traced back to the earliest Protestant translations of the 1820s. Since then, almost all Protestant Chinese versions have followed this tradition of using lóng 龙, a rendering that inevitably creates a cultural crash with Chinese culture. Many new converts are asked to demolish all vases or artefacts portraying this mythical figure, and some people are even asked to have their name changed if the character lóng 龙 is found in their names. While modern Catholic Chinese translations also use the same rendering, the first Catholic Chinese version (unpublished) which included the Book of Revelation (1813, by the French Jesuit Loui Antoine de Poirot) used the term mǎng 蟒 (meaning ‘python’). The python’s fierce nature carries a negative connotation that is far more appropriate and indeed conveys the meaning of the Greek word far more adequately than lóng 龙. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible with the Pentateuch completed in mid-3rd century B.C.), it was said that, when Moses and Pharoah’s priests threw their staffs on the ground, the staffs became δράκων (Exod 7:9, 10, 12). This Greek word was used to translate the Hebrew word ‘tanin‎,’ unmistakenly understood to be ‘serpent.’ Some recent Chinese translations rightly render it as móshé 魔蛇 (‘evil serpent’). As a translation strategy, it could also render δράκων phonetically dùlāgēn 杜拉根 (see Rev 12:3 footnote in the Revised Chinese Union Version).

“The different translation strategies that Protestant and Catholics employ shows the greater Protestant emphasis on the conversion experience. By using lóng 龙 for δράκων, Protestant translators emphasized the separation from the ‘old self’ (old lives), which in this case encompassed an element of Chinese culture that was often idolatrized. Catholic missionaries (especially the Jesuits), on the other hand, had a far more positive appreciation of Chinese culture that enabled them to see no such necessary point of demarcation from the recipient’s cultural context.”

Translation: Chinese

很多时候,翻译者需要为原语言中的词语或表达找出对等译词。寻找与古时实体事物对等的译词已经颇具挑战,要确定神话(或传说)中实体事物的对等词更是难上加难。在英语世界中,或者说在大多数欧洲语言中,与英文dragon类似的形象通常指有待驯服或战胜的悪兽。一般来说,这个英文词在中文里面的对等词是"龙"(拼音lóng),但是在中国文化中,龙是一个代表吉祥的形象。龙在中国文化中是最高等的动物;也有说法指"龙"这字的发音仿似雷声。在中国古代,皇帝都被称为"龙",一般人不能采用龙的肖象。中国人被称为"龙的传人"可能是比较晚期的民间说法,同时使用龙的肖象也普遍起来。东亚地区的许多神明和半神都以龙为坐骑或侍从。

《启示录》作者用希腊文δράκων一词来描述撒但成为肉身,从天上坠落下来(启12:3,4,7,9,13,16,17,13:2,4)。最重要的新教中文圣经译本《和合本》(1919年出版)将这个希腊文词语译作"龙"。事实上,这个译法由来已久,可以追溯到马礼逊(Robert Morrison)在1823年发行的译本,或者馬殊曼和拉瑟(Marshman-Lassar)在1822年完成的译本。几乎所有新教中文圣经译本都沿用了"龙"的译法,这不可避免地与中国文化产生了冲突。有保守的传道人会要求初归信的人丢掉所有以这个神秘形象为图案的花瓶或艺术品,如果他们的名字中有"龙"字,传道人甚至会要求他们改名。第一本包含《启示录》的天主教中文圣经译本由法国耶稣会会士賀清泰神父(Louis Antoine de Poirot)在1813年译成,他采用了"蟒"的译法(并非完整,亦未有出版),然而现代的天主教中文圣经译本仍译作"龙"。"蟒"的凶猛体现出原词带负面形象的涵义。这种译法确实比"龙"合适的多,更加全面地表达出希腊文的意思。《七十士译本》是《希伯来圣经》的希腊文译本,其中的摩西五经于主前三世纪中翻译完成;这个译本叙述摩西与埃及术士争斗的故事时,说他们的杖变成了δράκων(出7:9,10,12)。《七十士译本》用这个希腊文词语来翻译希伯来文tanin,而tanin毫无疑问是指"蛇"。近期有中文译本将希腊文δράκων译作"魔蛇",这是很好的翻译。另外,δράκων也可以音译为"杜拉根"。参《和合本修订版》关于《启示录》12:3的脚注。

基督新教非常强调人的归正经验,弃绝"老我"(旧的生命)是人重生的一个记号。马礼逊(或马殊曼)和后来的所有中文译本将δράκων译作"龙",可能反映这个观念,另外中国文化中的要素经常会被偶像化也是一个考虑。然而,天主教传教士(特别是耶稣会会士)对于中国文化的认识要正面得多,他们认为把"龙"与中国文化语境相隔离是毫无必要的。

Translator: Simon Wong

breathed his last

The Greek that is often translated in English as “he breathed his last” is translated with idioms that include “his life-force broke-off” (Indonesian, Balinese), “his breath stopped (or: was-exhausted” (Ekari, Sranan Tongo), “his breath (and body) parted-with-each-other” (Toraja-Sa’dan).

abyss, bottomless pit

The Greek that is transliterated as “abyss” or translated as “bottomless pit” in English is translated as “unfathomably deep place” or “land below” in Indonesian, “land below” in Batak Toba, or “the deep where the earth opens its mouth” in Sranan Tongo (a term well-known from folk tales).

hearts burning

The Greek that is often translated as “Were not our hearts burning within us?” is translated as “a boiling comes to our hearts inside” in Marathi (an idiom for joy and enthusiasm), “drawn, as it were, our mind” in Balinese, “hurt (i.e. longing) our hearts” in Ekari, or “something was-consuming in our-heart” in Tae’ (an idiom for “we were profoundly moved”). (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In an early version of the Bible in Sranan Tongo, the translation was Ke, hoe switi kouroe wi hatti be fili: “O, how sweet coolness did our hearts feel.” The translator “did this to avoid misunderstanding. In Sranan Tongo, when one says ‘my heart is burning’ he means ‘I am angry.'” (Source: Janini 2015, p. 33)

In Afar the phrase is translated as robti leeh innah nel oobak sugtem hinnaa?: “Wasn’t it as rain coming down on us?” (heat is bad, rain is good in the desert). (Source: Loren Bliese)

delivered, handed down

The Greek that is translated into English as “delivered (to us)” or “handed down (to us)” is rendered as “we had heard them from the mouth of men who…” (Sranan Tongo), “to make known” (Kannada), “to show causing (us) to know” (Thai) or “to cause-to-receive” (Balinese, using a verb that also has the meaning “to bequeath an inheritance”).

distracted by all the preparations

The Greek that is translated as something like “(Martha) was distracted by all the preparations” is translated as “all kinds of work to do had gone to Martha’s heart” (Tzeltal), “Martha was wearing-herself-out how/the-way her feeding them” (Tboli), “because much work fell to Martha, her agitation flew/flared-up” (Marathi), “Martha’s mind was stirred up with excess of service” (Zarma), “she danced to and fro in serving” (Uab Meto), “much work overwhelmed Martha” (Sranan Tongo) (source for all above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), or “her face kept on getting turned” (Mairasi) (source: Enggavoter 2004).

Kingdom (of God / heaven)

The German Good News Bible (Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch) (1st edition: 1968, 2nd edition: 1982, 3rd edition: 1997) says this about the translation of the Greek expressions that in English are often translated as “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” respectively:

An example for how a term evolved is the rendering of ‘heavenly kingdom’ or ‘kingdom of God.’ A verbatim translation will be misunderstood by most readers today: as if it talks about a kingdom that is located in heaven, when in reality it refers in the Bible to God being the ruler, to that area in which that rule has been realized and everything that human beings can expect because of that. Dependent on the context, the term is therefore translated differently in this present version: When it focuses on the presence of God’s kingdom it is rendered as ‘God establishes his rule’ (‘Gott richtet seine Herrschaft auf’), when the focus is on the future it is translated as ‘Once God finalizes his creation (or ‘work’) . . . ‘ (‘Wenn Gott sein Werk vollendet . . .’), and when the focus is on that finished creation it is ‘God’s new world’ (‘Gottes neue Welt’).” (p. 299)

The respective translation choice in that German translation:

Daud Soesilo writes this about the translation of those terms in the Malay translation:

In the New Testament [of the Revised Malay Translation (Alkitab Berita Baik, 1996)] “the Kingdom of God/Heaven” does not refer primarily to a region, or place, or to a political or national territory.
The meaning of “kingdom” is fundamentally that of “sovereignty” or “rule.” Since the primary idea is that of kingship, kingly rule, or sovereignty of God, rather than of the sphere or realm in which his rule operates, the sense of this term should be expressed in translation as “kingly rule,” “reign,” or “sovereignty,” rather than by the literal “kingdom.” The most common literal translation of the term “Kingdom of God” in Malay is “Kerajaan Allah.” “Kerajaan Syurga” is used for its variant “Kingdom of Heaven.” However, careful linguistic analysis of the meaning and usage of the term “kerajaan” “kingdom” shows that when it is unmarked it carries the following components:

  • a territory
  • in which a king rules
  • his people

Thus the expressions “Kerajaan Allah” and “Kerajaan Syurga” have primarily a territorial sense, rather than expressing the idea of “kingly rule.” This means, then, that we should consider replacing the literal renderings “Kerajaan Allah/Syurga” with expressions that are better able to give the New Testament meaning of “he basileia tau theou,” as expressed in the following components:

  • God’s kingly rule, including his activity in bringing about his rule in this world
  • the people God rules over, in particular those who accept his rule in their lives,
  • the situation in which God rules completely, which is the consummation of God’s activity of bringing about God’s rule. (This is the situation which the German Common Language Bible “Die Gute Nachricht” translates as “God’s New World.” From one point of view, however, this use of the expression is the one that relates most closely to the “territory” sense mentioned above.)

The Malay translation team has tried to render the expression “he basileia tou theou” faithfully and meaningfully according to the main focus in each context in which it occurs. However, to help readers who are looking for the formal features of the term, we have added footnotes that give a literal rendering. (Source: Daud Soesilo in The Bible Translator 2001, p. 239ff.)

(See also Barclay Newman in: The Bible Translator 1974, p. 401ff.)

Likewise in the Gurung translation the term was also, depending on context, rendered in four different ways:

  • God’s power at work in the world,
  • the personal response to God, in obedience and receiving blessing,
  • God’s future open ruling of the world,
  • the ultimate blessings of God’s rule in heaven.

(Source: Warren Glover in The Bible Translator 1978, p. 231ff. — here you can also find a comprehensive list of examples where which translation was applied.)

Following is a list of (back-) translations from other languages:

  • Tzeltal: “persons like these will reach God’s government” (as in Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16: “the Kingdom of God belongs to those”) or “the jurisdiction of God” (in the sense of where God has the authority)
  • Western Kanjobal: “receive God as king”
  • Copainalá Zoque: “like God to rule over”
  • San Miguel El Grande Mixtec: “agree to God reigning over”
  • Kekchí: “power (or authority) of God”
  • Laka: “God’s commanding”
  • Javanese: “the rule of God”
  • Huave: “where God rules”
  • Huastec: “God as ruler”
  • San Blas Kuna: “God’s government”
  • Navajo: “what God has charge of”
  • Sayula Popoluca: “to have God rule over”
  • Tzotzil: “to have God as chief”
  • Highland Puebla Nahuatl: “the leadership of God”
  • Wayuu: “where God is chief” (this and examples above in Bratcher / Nida)
  • Fuyug “God’s clan”
  • Mono: “sana lala’aha nang” – “area of chiefly rule”
  • Martu Wangka: “The Father looks after his own relatives” (source for this and the two preceding: Carl Gross)
  • Caribbean Javanese: Kratoné Allah (“God’s seat (of a king)”)
  • Sranan Tongo: Tiri fur Gado (“the Ruling of God”) or Kownukondre fur Gado (“King’s land of God”)
  • Eastern Maroon Creole: A Nyun Tii fu Massa Gadu / Saramaccan: Di Njunjun Tii u Gadu (both: “the New ruling of God”) (source for this and 2 above: Jabini 2015)
  • Umiray Dumaget Agta: “protectorate of God” (source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

In Mairasi, a language “where people would rather say something in a new way than in an old way,” there are a number of translations, including “Great Above One’s (=God) rule,” “His power,” “His control,” or “His place of authority/power.” (Source: Enggavoter 2004)