father, grandfather

The Hebrew phrase that is translated in English as “of Abraham, your father” is translated into Bukusu as “Abraham your grandfather.” In many languages this is a more correct way of expressing the relation between Abraham and Jacob.

See also son vs. grandson.

secrets of wisdom

The Hebrew that is translated in English versions as “secrets of wisdom” is translated into Sena (Chisena) as pagona nzeru: “where wisdom sleeps,” a natural expression for the origins of wisdom.


The Hebrew term that is translated in English translations as “Judges” (as the title of the biblical book) of “judges” (in Judg 2:16 and 2:17) is translated into Bukusu as “leaders” (in the case of the title of the book ‘The book of Leaders’). In light of this, there is no real need to explain that these persons were not judges of a court of law, but leaders.


The Hebrew that is rendered in English translations as “double-minded” or “vain thoughts” is translated into Yao (ChiYao) as ŵandu ŵa unakunaku: “people of double-double.”

See also double-minded.

grace to you

The Greek that is rendered in English versions with “grace to you” is translated into Naro with cgóm̀, “a word that expresses pity, but also love and care for people. It is the best solution in the Naro culture.” (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)

See also grace.

our life for yours

The Hebrew that is rendered in English versions as “our life for yours!” (meaning “if you let us live, we’ll let you live”) is translated into Bukusu as “our lives are on you, and your life is on us.”

soul (breath / life)

The Hebrew phrase in 1 Kings 17:21 that is translated in English as “this child’s soul” or “this child’s life” is translated into Turkana as eyari (“breath”) which is the same term used in 1 Kings 17:17 (in English: “there was no breath left in him”).


The Greek that is translated into English versions as “throne” is translated into Naro as ntcõó-q’oo: “he will rule.” The figure of the “throne” cannot be translated in the egalitarian Naro culture, so the idea had to be expressed more explicitly. (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)

In other languages it is translated as “stool/seat of the king” (Marathi), “seat of commanding/chieftainship” (Highland Totonac, Kituba), “seat of the Supreme one (lit. of-him-who-has-the umbrella)” (Toraja-Sa’dan — the umbrella being a well-known symbol of power in various parts of South and South-East Asia), “glorious place to sit” (Ekari) (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), “where God sits and rules” (Estado de México Otomi), “where God reigns” (Central Mazahua) (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.), or “bed of kingship” (Kafa) (source: Loren Bliese).

peace offering

The Hebrew that is rendered in English versions as “peace offering” is translated into Pökoot as pöghisyö: “gift of peace/fellowship”. This term has the connotations of fellowship, wholeness, restored relationships, etc. The word pöghisyö is also used as a common greeting (much like Shalom in Hebrew).

duality vs. plurality (Luke 9:54)

Naro has a dual and plural 3rd person pronoun. What is translated in English as “they said” was translated in Naro with the dual pronoun (“ko”), since the text specifically mentions the names of two disciples only.


The Greek that is translated into English as “crucify” is translated into Naro with xgàu which literally means “to stretch” as is done with a skin after slaughtering in order to dry it. The word is also widely accepted in the churches. (Source: Gerrit van Steenbergen)

Similarly, Balinese and Toraja-Sa’dan also translate as “stretch him” (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel) and in Rendille as lakakaaha — “stretched and nailed down” (source: Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 33).

In Ghari it becomes “hammer to the cross” (source: David Clark), in Loma “fasten him to a spread-back-stick” (source: Bratcher / Nida), in Sundanese “hang him on a crossbeam” (source: Reiling / Swellengrebel), in Aguaruna “fasten him to the tree,” in Navajo “nail him to the cross”, in Yatzachi Zapotec “fasten him to the cross” (source for this and two above (source for this and above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125.), and in Apali the different aspects of the crucifixion have to be spelled out: “nail to a tree piece put cross-wise, lift up to stand upright (for the crucified person) to die (and in some contexts: to die and rise again)” (source: Martha Wade).

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing how crucifixion was done in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also cross.