The Greek that is translated as “is acceptable” or “is welcome” in English is translated as “well received” (Sinhala), “to be considered-good” (Tae’), “to be liked” (Sundanese), “to be cherished” (Chuukese), “to be popular” (Pohnpeian), “to be believed with respect” (Kele), or “to be listened to” (Tboli).
The phrase that is translated as “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” in English versions is rendered in Kahua with a term for belly/chest as the seat of the emotions.
The same phrase is translated into Kuy as “with all your heart-liver”to show the totality of one’s being. (Source: David Clark)
The whole phrase is translated in Tboli as “cause it to start from the very beginning of your stomach your loving God, for he is your place of holding.”
In Poqomchi’ (as in many other Mayan languages), the term “heart” covers both “heart” and “mind.”
(Sources: Bratcher / Nida, Reiling / Swellengrebel, and Bob Bascom [Ixcatlán Mazatec and Poqomchi’])
The Greek that is often translated as “greet no one” in English is translated literally in some languages where greetings take a notoriously long time, but elsewhere the intended meaning is conveyed by translations like “do not delay for salutations” (Sinhala), “do not pause … to give even one person greetings” (Kituba), and in some cases the concept of greeting is abandoned, such as “don’t-waste-time talking to people you meet” (Tboli or “do not loiter … for useless words” (Navajo).
The Greek that is translated as “scribe” in English “were more than mere writers of the law. They were the trained interpreters of the law and expounders of tradition.”
Here are a number of its (back-) translations:
- Yaka: “clerks in God’s house”
- Amganad Ifugao: “men who wrote and taught in the synagogue”
- Navajo: “teaching-writers” (“an attempt to emphasize their dual function”)
- Shipibo-Conibo: “book-wise persons”
- San Blas Kuna: “those who knew the Jews’ ways”
- Loma: “the educated ones”
- San Mateo del Mar Huave: “those knowing holy paper”
- Central Mazahua: “writers of holy words”
- Indonesian: “experts in the Torah”
- Pamona: “men skilled in the ordinances” (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
- Sinhala: “bearer-of-the-law”
- Marathi: “one-learned-in-the-Scriptures”
- Shona (1966): “expert of the law”
- Balinese: “expert of the books of Torah”
- Ekari: “one knowing paper/book”
- Tboli: “one who taught the law God before caused Moses to write” (or “one who taught the law of Moses”) (source for this and 5 above: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
- Mairasi: people who write and explain Great Above One’s (=God’s) prohibitions” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
- Nyanja: “teachers of Laws” (source: Ernst Wendland)
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), or “much work overwhelmed Martha” (Sranan Tongo).
The Greek that is rendered in English as “filled with the Holy Spirit” or “full with the Holy Spirit” is translated in Tboli as “the Holy Spirit shall be with him,” in Shipibo-Conibo as “the Holy Spirit shall permeate him” (using a term said of medicines), in Cuyonon as “he shall be under the control of the Holy Spirit” (esp. Luke 4:1, Acts 7:55, Acts 11:24) in Ngäbere as “the full strength of the Holy Spirit shall stay in him,” in Tae’ (translation of 1933) as “he shall carry the Holy Spirit in his inner being.”
The following story is relayed by Martha Duff Tripp as she led the translation of the New Testament into Yanesha’ (p. 310):
I continue to work with Casper Mountain [an Yanesha’ translator] on translation. As we start the book of Luke, we run into another problem. In Chapter 1, verse 15, the text reads (speaking of John the Baptist), “and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Amueshas [Yanesha’s] have never associated their word for “fill” with anything except pots and baskets. How can a person be “filled”? Even their word for a full stomach is not the word for “fill.” We talk together about what “filled with the Holy Spirit” means (obsessed with or possessed by). The thought comes to me of what the Amueshas [Yanesha’s] say about the shaman. They say that he can “wear” the spirit of the tiger, that they can tell when he is wearing the tiger spirit because he then will act like a tiger. Their word for “wear” is the same word as to “wear or put on a garment.” Can this possibly be the way to say “filled with God’s Spirit”? As I cautiously question Casper about this, his face lights up immediately. “Yes, that is the way we would say it, he is ’wearing’ God’s Holy Spirit.”
The Greek that is translated as “see(n) a vision” in English is sometimes translated generically, such as “to see something” (Sranan Tongo, Tae’), “something is made visible” (Western Apache), or “they knew, what he might have seen” (i.e. they knew that something had been seen but not what) (Shipibo-Conibo). Elsewhere a specification is added, such as “to see a divine sight” (Kannada, Toraja-Sa’dan), “he had seen something supernatural, which had appeared to him” (Tboli).
See also vision.
The Greek that is mostly translated as “virgin” in English can be translated as “woman that is untouched” (a qualification current also for an object that has never been used) in Batak Toba or “a woman with a whole (i.e. unopened) body” in Uab Meto. In some cases, however, such terms, or descriptive phrases like, “a woman who has not been with a man,” are felt to be too outspoken. Hence, in English versions the rendering has been toned down from “virgin,” via “maiden” (Goodspeed 1923/1935, Rieu 1954), to “girl” (New English Bible 1961/1970), and in Batak Toba from “woman that is untouched” to “girl” (lit. “female child”). Similar words for “girl,” “unmarried young woman,” suggesting virginity without explicitly stating it, are found in Marathi, Apache, or Kituba. Cultural features naturally influence connotations of possible renderings, for instance, the child marriage customs in some Tboli areas, where the boy and girl are made to sleep together at the initial marriage, but after that do not live together and may not see each other again for years. Hence, the closest attainable equivalent, “female adolescent,” does not imply that a young girl is not living with her husband, and that she never had a child, but leaves uncertain whether she has ever slept with a male person or not. Accordingly, in Luke one has to depend on Luke 1:34 to make clear that Mary and Joseph had not had sexual intercourse. A different problem is encountered in Pampanga, where “birhen” (an adaptation of Spanish “virgen” — “virgin”), when standing alone, is a name of the “Virgin Mary.” To exclude this meaning the version uses “marriageable birhen,” thus at the same time indicating that Mary was relatively young. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)
In Navajo, the term that is used is “no husband yet” (Source: Wallis, p. 106) and in Gola the expression “trouser girl.” “In the distant past young women who were virgins wore trousers. Those who were not virgins wore dresses. That doesn’t hold true anymore, but the expression is still there in the language.” (Source: Don Slager)
The term in Djimini Senoufo is katogo jo — “village-dance-woman” (women who have been promised but who are still allowed to go to dances with unmarried women). (Source: Übersetzung heute 3/1995)
The Greek that is translated as “engaged” or “betrothed” in English is translated in Pampanga as “having-been-given-approval” and Tagalog as “having-been-brought-before-the authorities” (both implying a couple which has already applied to the local civil registrar or priest for a license to marry). Tboli uses “braceleted” (a figurative expression for the giving of property for the dowry, an act that finalizes the marriage contract) and Uab Meto has “publicly pledged to marry (lit. “reciprocally-bound”)” (a term indicating that an interchange of gifts as a pledge for marriage has taken place).
The Greek that is translated as “(she was) troubled” or “perplexed” into English in this verse is translated as “her breath (was) anxious” into Tboli, “her mind was upset” in Marathi, or “her members shook” in Navajo.
The Hebrew and Greek that are translated as “fear (of God)” (or: “honor,” “worship,” or “respect”) is translated as “to have respect/reverence for” (Southern Subanen, Western Highland Purepecha, Navajo, Javanese, Tboli), “to make great before oneself” (Ngäbere), “fear-devotion” (Kannada — currently used as a description of the life of piety), “those-with-whom he-is-holy” (those who fear God) (Western Apache) (source for this and above: Reiling / Swellengrebel), “obey” (Nyanja) (source: Ernst Wendland), or with a term that communicates awe (rather than fear of an evil source) (Chol) (source: Robert Bascom).
The Greek that is often translated as “the hand of the Lord was with him” in English is often rendered by another metaphorical expression, such as “he was sheltered by the hand of the Lord” (Javanese), “the Lord carried him on the palm of his hand” (Toraja-Sa’dan), or “the eye of God was always on him” (Tboli).