vain (worship)

The Greek that is translated into English as “vain” or “in vain” in English is (back-) translated in various ways:

  • Cashibo-Cacataibo: “say I am important, but they do not believe it”
  • Kekchí: “has no meaning when they praise me”
  • Toraja-Sa’dan, Pamona: “uselessly”
  • Copainalá Zoque: “uselessly they remember”
  • Farefare: “their religion is their mouth”
  • Southern Subanen: “their worship has no meaning”
  • Tzotzil: “they say they love me, but this means nothing”
  • Southern Bobo Madaré: “they worship me but they do not mean what they say”
  • Central Mazahua: “it is of no value that they honor me”
  • San Blas Kuna: “their thinking is not in their hearts” (source for this and above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Mairasi: “tribute of theirs for me [which] will-be-on-their-own” (source: Enggavoter 2004)
  • Guhu-Samane: “with the front teeth of their mouths they worship me” (“‘In vain’ caused puzzlement [because] why should their efforts to worship God produce no results, try as they may? [But the idiom] ‘with the front teeth of their mouths they worship me’ comes from the picture of one who is making a pretense at eating food, hence their deceit is apparent.’ Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff.)

Passover

The Greek and Hebrew that is typically translated in English as “Passover” is translated more descriptively by various languages:

  • Ojitlán Chinantec: “the feast of the passing by of God’s angel”
  • Lalana Chinantec “the day would come which is called Passover, when the Israel people remember how they went out of the land of Egypt.
  • Huehuetla Tepehua: “the celebration when they ate their sheep”
  • Umiray Dumaget Agta: “the celebration of the day of their being brought out of bondage”
    (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.)
  • Obolo: ijọk Iraraka: “Festival of Passing” (source: Enene Enene)
  • Guhu-Samane: “special day of sparing” (source: Ernest Richert in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff.)
  • Yakan: “The festival of the Isra’il tribe which they call For-Remembering”

complete verse (James 1:12)

This verse is translated in Guhu-Samane as “The man who is unmovable in a test is in a happy condition. For those who love God are the ones into whose armbands he promised to insert the victory flower of life. So then, after the test is over that man will have the victory flower inserted.”

Source: Ernest Richert in The Bible Translator, 1965, p. 81ff.

Handman (2015, p. 115) comments on this: “This suggests that Richert created an underlying message that put the verse in logical, sequential order. God promised man ‘the crown of life’ before anyone actually received it. Therefore, the promise appears before the description of receiving the gift. The underlying message likely mirrored the following organization:

A man who perseveres under a trial is a good man. God promised this crown of life to those who love him. When he passes the test, then he will receive the crown of life.

“‘Crown of life’ in the Greek and most English versions becomes ‘flower of life (slipped through an armband)’ in Richert’s translation, a reference to a flower put in a man’s armband as a sign of prestige or victory. Richert was concerned to use the right words and expressions, in the right order, to make the biblical text as comprehensible as possible.'”

See also crown of life.

wineskins

The Greek that is translated as “wineskins” in most English translations is translated in Guhu-Samane as “gourds.”

“Wineskins” caused “puzzlement [because] why would one put wine or any liquid into the skin of an animal since the skins just rot quickly? [But] it is conceded that a person wishing to store a liquid (wine or other) would not choose an old, but a new gourd. The people here are familiar with wine in the Eucharist and can readily conceive of how wine (literally ‘strong water’) could burst an old gourd and as such the argument is not lost.”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..

taste death

The Greek that is translated as “taste death” in English is translated in Guhu-Samane as “die” because “the term suggests cannibalism to Papua New Guinea natives.”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..

spirit / flesh

The Greek terms that are translated “spirit” and “flesh” are a fundamental contrast, but one which is variously expressed in different languages. Often, however, “spirit” is equivalent to “heart” (Eastern Highland Otomi, Loma, Guerrero Amuzgo, Highland Puebla Nahuatl), and “flesh” may be rendered as “body” (Guerrero Amuzgo, Highland Puebla Nahuatl, Tzeltal) or “you yourself” (Central Tarahumara).

The following translations are illustrative of the contrastive expressions: “your hearts are ready but your bodies are weak” (Highland Puebla Nahuatl), “your heart is strong but you yourselves are not strong” (Central Tarahumara), “your heart has strength, but your body does not have strength” (Tzeltal), “your heart desires to do good, but your heart is weak,” in which “heart” must be used in both clauses since it not only stands for the center of the personality, but is also the symbol of typical human nature (Loma). (Source for this and all above Bratcher / Nida)

In Guhu-Samane an idiomatic expression with “your desire is there, but sleep has slain your body” is used. (Source: Ernest Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff.)

first commandment

The Greek that is translated as “first commandment” in English is translated in Guhu-Samane as “the head of the rest of the commandments… .” This solves a potential confusion for Guhu-Samane speakers whether the commandment is “the first in point of time, or of importance. [This way] it speaks obviously of the primacy of the commandment.”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..

warming oneself at the fire

The Greek that is translated as “warming himself at the fire” in most English translations is translated in Guhu-Samane with the idiom “he fire-cured (himself).”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..

there you will see him

The Greek that is translated as “there you will see him” in English is translated in Guhu-Samane as “there you will see his substance.”

“There you will see him” caused “puzzlement: Will see him, but in spirit form, or corporeal? (A valid question for people of this culture to whom the spirits of departed ones frequently appear.) [But] ‘there you will see his substance’ is now clearly and unambiguously understood to mean Christ would be seen corporeally.”

Source: Ernest L. Richert in Notes on Translation December 1963: p. 4-7; reprinted in The Bible Translator 1965, p. 198ff..