Isaiah

The name that is transliterated as “Isaiah” in English is translated in Finnish Sign Language with the signs signifying “save + prophet” (referring to Genesis 2:21). (Source: Tarja Sandholm)


“Isaiah” in Finnish Sign Language (source )

In French Sign Language it is translated with a sign that depicts coals that touch Isaiah’s lips (referring to Isaiah 6:6 and 6:7):


“Isaiah” in French Sign Language (source: La Bible en langue des signes française )

Following is a Russian Orthodox icon of Isaiah from the 18th century (found in the Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia). The text in the scrollis from Isaiah 2:2: “In the last days […] shall be established.”

 
Orthodox Icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

cherub

Some key biblical terms that were directly transliterated from the Hebrew have ended up with unforeseen meanings in the lexicons of various recipient languages.

Take, for example, the English word “cherub,” from Hebrew “kĕrȗb.” Whereas the original Hebrew term meant something like “angelic being that is represented as part human, part animal” (…), the English word now means something like “a person, especially a child, with an innocent or chubby face.” Semantic shift has been conditioned in English by the Renaissance artistic tradition that portrayed cherubim in the guise of cute little Greek cupids. This development was of course impossible to foresee at the time when the first English translations borrowed this Hebrew word into the English Bible tradition, following the pattern of borrowing set by the Greek and Latin translations of the Old Testament.

In Russian, the semantic shift of this transliteration was somewhat different: the -îm ending of “kĕrūbîm,” originally signifying plurality in Hebrew, has been reanalyzed as merely the final part of the lexical item, so that the term херувим (kheruvim) in Russian is a singular count noun, not a plural one. (A similar degrammaticalization is seen in English writers who render the Hebrew plural kĕrūbîm as “cherubims.”) Apparently, this degrammaticalization of the Hebrew ending is what led the Russian Synodal translator of Genesis 3:24 to mistakenly render the Hebrew as saying that the Lord God placed a kheruvim (accusative masculine singular in Russian) to the east of the garden of Eden, instead of indicating a plural number of such beings. (Source: Vitaly Voinov in The Bible Translator 2012, p. 17ff.)

In Ngäbere the Hebrew that is translated in English as “cherub” is translated as “heavenly guard” (source: J. Loewen 1980, p. 107), in Nyamwezi as v’amalaika v’akelubi or “Cherubim-Angel” to add clarity, in Vidunda as “winged creature” (source for this and before: Pioneer Bible Translators, project-specific translation notes in Paratext), and in Bura-Pabir as “good spirit with wings” (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin).

In Northern Pashto it is either translated as “heavenly creature” (Afghan Pashto Bible, publ. 2023) or “winged creature” (Holy Bible in Pakistani [Yousafzai] Pashto, publ. 2020) (source: Andy Warren-Rothlin).

In French Sign Language it is translated with a sign that combines “angel” and “spinning sword” (referring to Genesis 3:24):


“Cherub” in French Sign Language (source: La Bible en langue des signes française )

See also seraph and ark of the covenant.

Sabbath

The Hebrew and Greek that is translated as “Sabbath” in English is rendered as “day we rest” in Tzotzil, in Mairasi as “Jew’s Rest Day,” in Quiotepec Chinantec as “day when people of Israel rested,” in Shilluk as “day of God,” in Obolo as Usen Mbuban or “Holy Day,” and in Mandarin Chinese as ānxírì (安息日) or “rest day” (literally: “peace – rest – day”).

(Sources: Tzotzil: Marion Cowan in Notes on Translation with Drill, p. 169ff; Mairasi: Enggavoter 2004; Quiotepec Chinantec: B. Moore / G. Turner in Notes on Translation 1967, p. 1ff.; Shilluk: Nida 1964, p. 237; Obolo: Enene Enene; Chinese: Jost Zetzsche)

In the old Khmer version as well as in the first new translation this term was rendered as “day of rest” (Thngai Chhup Somrak / ​ថ្ងៃ​ឈប់​សំរាក). Considered inadequate to convey its religious meaning (not only about cessation of work, but also in honor of Yahweh as the Creator), the committee for the Today’s Khmer Version (publ. 2005) decided to keep the Hebrew word and use its transliterated form Thgnai Sabath (​ថ្ងៃ​សប្ប័ទ). “The Buddhist word Thngai Seil ‘day of merits’ used by some Catholics was once under consideration but was rejected because it did not receive unanimous support.” (Source: Joseph Hong in The Bible Translator 1996, p. 233ff.)

In Spanish, the translation is either día de reposo (“day of rest”) or sábado (usually: “Saturday,” derived from the Greek and Hebrew original. Nida (1947, p. 239f.) explains that problem for Spanish and other languages in its sphere of influence: “In translation ‘Sabbath’ into various aboriginal languages of Latin America, a considerable number of translators have used the Spanish sábado, ‘Saturday,’ because it is derived from the Hebrew sabbath and seems to correspond to English usage as well. The difficulty is that sábado means only ‘Saturday’ for most people. There is no religious significance about this word as the is with ‘Sabbath’ in English. Accordingly the [readers] cannot understand the significance of the persecution of Jesus because he worked on ‘Saturday.’ It has been found quite advantageous to use the translation ‘day of rest,’ for this accurately translated the Hebrew meaning of the term and resolves the problem in connection with the prohibitions placed upon some types of activities.”

In French Sign Language it is translated with a sign that depicts closing of the blinds of a store:


“Sabbath” in French Sign Language (source: La Bible en langue des signes française )

Jerusalem

The name that is transliterated as “Jerusalem” in English is signed in French Sign Language with a sign that depicts worshiping at the Western Wall in Jerusalem:


“Jerusalem” in French Sign Language (source: La Bible en langue des signes française )

While a similar sign is also used in British Sign Language, another, more neutral sign that combines the sign “J” and the signs for “place” is used as well. (Source: Anna Smith)


“Jerusalem” in British Sign Language (source: Christian BSL, used with permission)

Pharisee

The Greek that is a transliteration of the Hebrew Pərūšīm and is typically transliterated into English as “Pharisee” is transliterated in Mandarin Chinese as Fǎlìsài (法利賽 / 法利赛) (Protestant) or Fǎlìsāi (法利塞) (Catholic). In Chinese, transliterations can typically be done with a great number of different and identical-sounding characters. Often the meaning of the characters are not relevant, unless they are chosen carefully as in these cases. The Protestant Fǎlìsài can mean something like “Competition for the profit of the law” and the Catholic Fǎlìsāi “Stuffed by/with the profit of the law.” (Source: Zetzsche 1996, p. 51)

In Finnish Sign Language it is translated with the sign signifying “prayer shawl”. (Source: Tarja Sandholm)


“Pharisee” in Finnish Sign Language (source )

In British Sign Language it is translated with a sign that depicts “pointing out the law.” (Source: Anna Smith)


“Pharisee” in British Sign Language (source: Christian BSL, used with permission)

In French Sign Language it is translated with a sign that depicts the box of the phylacteries attached to the forehead:


“Pharisees” in French Sign Language (source: La Bible en langue des signes française )

Scot McKnight (in The Second Testament, publ. 2023) translates it into English as Observant. He explains (p. 302): “Pharisee has become a public, universal pejorative term for a hypocrite. Pharisees were observant of the interpretation of the Covenant Code called the ‘tradition of the elders.’ They conformed their behaviors to the interpretation. Among the various groups of Jews at the time of Jesus, they were perhaps closest to Jesus in their overall concern to make a radical commitment to the will of God (as they understood it).”

See also Nicodemus.