eternal life

The Greek that is translated in English as “eternal life” is translated in various ways:

Lloyd Peckham explains the Mairasi translation: “In secret stories, not knowable to women nor children, there was a magical fruit of life. If referred to vaguely, without specifying the specific ‘fruit,’ it can be an expression for eternity.”

See also eternity / forever and salvation.

Peace be with you

The Greek that is typically translated as “Peace be with you” in English is translated in Ojitlán Chinantec as “Have peaceful happy hearts,” in Huehuetla Tepehua as “Don’t be sad in your hearts,” in Aguaruna as “Be content,” in Shipibo-Conibo as “Think very good,” in Isthmus Mixe as “Don’t worry,” and in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac as “May it go well with you.”

(Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

See also complete verse (Luke 24:36).

you shall not commit adultery

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated in English as “you shall not commit adultery” is translated in Toraja-Sa’dan with an established figure of speech: Da’ mupasandak salu lako rampanan kapa’ or “you shall not fathom the river of marriage” (i.e “approach the marriage relationship of another.”) (Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 21 ff. ).

It is translated as “practice illicit relationship with women” in Tzeltal, as “go in with other people’s wives” in Isthmus Zapotec, as “live with some one who isn’t your wife” in Huehuetla Tepehua, and as “sleep with a strange partner” in Central Tarahumara. (Source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)

See also adultery

raised from the dead

The Greek that is translated as “was raised from the dead” is translated as “rose from the dead” (Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac), “came up again from where he was buried” (Huehuetla Tepehua) or “returned from among the dead” (Ojitlán Chinantec). (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

In Highland Totonac it is translated with “revivify,” since a literal translation could simply mean altering the position of a dead body” (source: Hermann Aschmann in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 171ff. ).

See also Lord.

mystery

The Greek that is translated as “mystery” in English is translated as “wisdom which was hidden” in Mezquital Otomi, as “that was not possible to be understood before” in Huehuetla Tepehua, and as “which was not known in time past” in Central Tarahumara. (Source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)

praise (God)

The Greek and Hebrew that is translated as “praise (God)” in English is translated in a nuymber of ways:

In Dan a figurative expression for praising God is used: “push God’s horse.” “In the distant past people closely followed the horses ridden by chiefs, so ‘pushing’ them.” (Source: Don Slager)

overcome the world

The Greek that is translated as “(I have) overcome (or:defeated) the world” in English is translated as “I am the victor over those of this world” in Aguaruna and “I have taken away the power of the world” in Huehuetla Tepehua. (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)

desires of the flesh

The Greek that is often translated as “desires of the flesh” in English is translated in Ixcatlán Mazatec as “human desires” (source: Robert Bascom), in Mezquital Otomi as “the desires of our old life,” in Tzeltal as “doing what your bodies want,” and in Huehuetla Tepehua as “doing the things that your thoughts like (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.).

In Enlhet it is translated as “wantings of the innermost.” “Innermost” or valhoc is a term that is frequently used in Enlhet to describe a large variety of emotions or states of mind (for other examples see here). (Source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff. )

See also flesh (human nature).

heartless

The Greek that is translated as “heartless” in English is translated as “don’t love their fellows” in Chicahuaxtla Triqui, as “don’t delight in people” in Hopi, and as “didn’t love like people should” in Huehuetla Tepehua. (Source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)

practice hospitality

The Greek that is translated as “practice hospitality” or similar in English is translated as “treat strangers kindly” in Yatzachi Zapotec, as “be brotherly to those who want to stay a while in your houses” in Huehuetla Tepehua, as “open up your houses that those who come on the road should enter” in Chicahuaxtla Triqui, as “show the goodness of your heart to as many as arrive at your houses” in Tzeltal, and as “give rest to people” in Mezquital Otomi. (Source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)

See also hospitality.

devil

The Greek that is translated in English as “devil” is sometimes translated with indigenous specific names, such as “the avaricious one” in Tetelcingo Nahuatl or “the malicious deity” in Toraja-Sa’dan. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Yoruba it is translated as èṣù. “Èṣù is thought of as bringing evil, but also as giving protection. The birth of a child may be attributed to him, as the names given to some babies show, Èṣùbiyi (Èṣù brought this forth), and Èṣùtoyin (Èṣù is worthy of praise).” (Source: John Hargreaves in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 39ff. )

In Muna, it is translated as Kafeompu’ando seetani: “Master of the evil-spirits” (source: René van den Berg) and in Mairasi as owe er epar nan: “headman of malevolent spirits” (source: Enggavoter 2004), in Huehuetla Tepehua as “chief of demons,” and in Ojitlán Chinantec as “head of the worldlings” (source for the last two: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125).

In Chinese móguǐ (魔鬼), literally “magical ghost,” is used. This is a term that was adopted from Buddhist sources into early Catholic writings and later also by Protestant translators. (Source: Zetzsche 1996, p. 32)

In Lak and Shughni it is translated with terms of feminine gender. Vitaly Voinov tells this story (click or tap here to see the rest of this insight):

“In the Lak language of Dagestan, the names ‘Iblis’ and ‘sheytan’ (referring to Satan and his minions, respectively) in this language were borrowed from the Arabic Islamic tradition, but they entered Lak as feminine nouns, not masculine nouns. This means that they grammatically function like nouns referring to females in Lak; in other words, Laks are likely to think of Iblis as a woman, not a man, because of the obligatory grammatical patterning of Lak noun classes. Thus, when the team explained (in Russian) what the Lak translation of Jesus’ wilderness temptation narrative at the beginning of Matthew 4 said, it sounded something like the following: ‘After this, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Iblis… .The temptress came to Jesus, and she said to Him…’

“Since this information (that the devil is a female spirit) is part of the very name used for Satan in Lak, nothing can really be done about this in the translation. The Lak translator did not think that the feminine gender of Iblis should cause any serious misunderstandings among readers, so we agreed to leave it in the translation. Prior to this, I had never heard about languages in which the devil is pictured as a woman, but recently I was told by a speaker of the Shughni language that in their language Sheytan is also feminine. This puts an interesting spin on things. The devil is of course a spirit, neither male nor female in a biologically-meaningful sense. But Bible translators are by nature very risk-aversive and, where possible, want to avoid any translation that might feed misleading information to readers. So what can a translator do about this? In many cases, such as the present one, one has to just accept the existing language structure and go on.”