love (abstract noun) (Tezoatlán Mixtec)

In Tezoatlán Mixtec the passage in 1 Cor. 13:4-6 which lists what love is not, reads with a different emphasis because “love” cannot be translated as an abstract noun (see also love (abstract noun) (Lamogai)).

John Williams explains: “[Tezoatlán Mixtec] is like many languages of the world in that it does not have abstract nouns, and so the language requires a translation of love in its verb form. The verb ‘love’ requires a subject, as well as a direct object. Mixtec must state who is loving whom. The translation team at first thought it could be God loving us, but we saw that after saying love is patient, love is kind, the next eight statements say what love is not. So we determined the focus is more on how Christians should love other Christians. Looking at the immediate context of chapter 12 and 14, as well as the context of the rest of the book led us to conclude that 1 Corinthians 13 is not a love poem, but more of a rebuke to the Corinthians, showing how they were not loving one another. This fresh understanding, to me at least, came as a result of Mixtec requiring us to look at the passage through new eyes. If this chapter is read as a rebuke, and since so many verses in the previous chapters have ‘rebuke’ as the focus, when read in Mixtec, the entire book of 1 Corinthians sounds very much like a ‘severe’ letter (see 2 Cor. 2:4).”

This is how the Tezoatlán Mixtec translation reads back-translated into English:

“4 Us loving others is that we inwardly endure what they do, and that we live at peace/kindly with them. Our loving others is not that we envy them, and loving them is not that we boast in front of them, and it is not that we are proud before them, 5 and it is not that we treat them badly, and it is not that we are selfish with them, and it is not that we get angry with them, and it is not that we feel bitterness toward them, 6 and it is not that we are happy when they do wrong, for it is that we instead are happy when they do right.”