the wise and the foolish

The Greek that is translated as “the wise and the foolish” or the “educated and the uneducated” in English is translated in Alekano as “those who have spoken school and those who have not spoken school.” (Source: Larson 1998, p. 86)

sign

The Greek that is typically translated in English as “sign” is translated in Huehuetla Tepehua as “thing to be marveled at” (source Larson 1889, p. 279) and in Mairasi as “big work” (source Enggavoter 2004).

the whole town came out

The Greek that is translated in English as “the whole town came out” or similar is translated in Kui as “everyone went to see him” since it was not possible to use “the whole town” with the extended meaning of “the people (of the town).” (Source: Larson 1998, p. 87)

without him not one thing came into being

The Greek that is translated as “without him not one thing came into being” or similar in English is translated in Huehuetla Tepehua as “if it hadn’t been for him there would not have been the world or anything” and in Tenango Otomi as “of all the things there are, there is not one that he did not make.” (Source: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February, 1970, p. 1-125.)

In Lalana Chinantec, the double-negative is turned into a positive: “All things came into being because that person made all that exists.” (Source: Larson 1998, p. 159)

In Bakairí, Jesus (Logos) had to stay the “focal character” so it’s translated as “He was the maker of all things.” (Source: Callow 1972, 61)

placed all things in his hands

The Greek that is translated in English as “placed all things in his hands” is translated in Asháninka as “allowed him to rule over all.” The meaning of the metaphor in the Greek would have not been clear if translated directly. (Source: Larson 1998, p. 87)

healed (of spirits)

The Greek that is translated as “the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed” or similar is translated in Tepeuxila Cuicatec as “the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed sand the evil spirits left them.” Larson (1998, p. 20) explains: “In Tepeuxila Cuicatec, ‘healed’ can be used only to talk about ‘sickness,’ not to talk about ‘casting out evil spirits.’ to be sure these people were helped as well, an obligatory addition was made.”

relative age of Andrew and Peter (Simon)

Many languages have terms for siblings that define whether one is younger or older in relation to another sibling.

In the case of Peter (Simon) and Andrew, Simon was assumed to be the older of the two brothers in Navajo because he typically is mentioned first (see Wallis 2000, p. 103f.) The same choice was made in Biangai (source: Larson 1998, p. 40).

In Batak Karo, the Greek term for the English term “brother” “is the term for a male having the same father and mother as the reference person, ‘brother.’ The general term for this in Batak Karo is sembuyak, but the language prefers a particular kinship term in relation to the reference person. The Revised Standard Version translates the first part of Matt 4:18 as follows: ‘As he walked by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother.’ The first problem here is how to translate ‘two brothers.’ In Batak Karo, if translated literally it will mean that the speaker and the ‘two brothers’ are all brothers. Therefore the relationship between the ‘two’ has to be stated, that they are related to one another as brothers, which in Karo is dua kaiak si sembuyak (literally ‘two persons who are from the same womb’). The second problem is the relationship between Simon and Andrew: which of them is older? On the basis of Semitic usage, the older is usually mentioned first (see Gen 4:8; 35:23). So Andrew is Simon’s younger brother; and therefore the translation will be Petrus ras agina Andreas (‘Peter and his younger brother, Andrew’).” (Source: M.K. Sembiring in The Bible Translator 1992, p. 217ff.)

The Chilcotin translators tried to circumvent specifying who of the two is older, even though the language also uses age-specific terms for siblings. In Mark 1:16, they have used the generic term ˀelhcheliqi (“brother” without specifying who is older). (Source: Quindel King)

See also James / John (relative age).

beat his breast

The Greek that is translated in English as “beat his breast” or similar is translated in Kasem as “clapped his hands.” To beat one’s breast is considered to be a sign of arrogance and pride. To express regret people clap their hands. (Source: Urs Niggli in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 16)

In Yaweyuha it is expressed more explicitly as “feeling great sorrow, repeatedly beating their chests” (source: Larson 1998, p. 98) and likewise on Chokwe as “beat his breast for sorrow” (“beat one’s breast” is the equivalent of the English “pat oneself on the back”) (source: D. B. Long in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 87ff.).

the Father loves the Son

The Greek that is translated in English as “the father loves the son” is translated in Alekano as “his father was pleased with his son,” since in that language “most kinship terms have an obligatory possessive pronoun suffix (or prefix and suffix). Hence it is impossible to say ‘a father’ or ‘the father’; one must say ‘my father” or ‘your father’ or “some person’s father'” (source: Larson 1998, p. 42). William Thompson (in: The Bible Translator 1950, p. 165ff.) observes the same for Wayuu.

the Father

The Greek that is translated in English as “the Father” is translated in Alekano in the first instance as “my father” (when Jesus speaks) and “our father” (when the disciples speak),” since in that language “most kinship terms have an obligatory possessive pronoun suffix (or prefix and suffix). Hence it is impossible to say ‘a father’ or ‘the father’; one must say ‘my father” or ‘your father’ or ‘some person’s father.'” (Source: Larson 1998, p. 42)

anchor

The Greek that is translated into English as “anchor” in English is, due to non-existing nautical language, rendered as kayo’ barko (“an instrument that keeps the boat from drifting”) in Chol (source: Steven 1979, p. 76), “iron hooks” (“that make the boat stop”) in Isthmus Mixe, “irons called ‘anchors’ with ropes” in Teutila Cuicatec (source for this and above: Ronald D. Olson in Notes on Translation January, 1968, p. 15ff.), “weights, and thus they were able to make the boat stand” in Xicotepec De Juárez Totonac (source: Larson 1998, p. 99), “an iron attached to a rope attached to the boat so that it may not drift away” in Lalana Chinantec (source: John Beekman in Notes on Translation, March 1965, p. 2ff.), “a thing that makes the water vehicle stand still” in Kamwe (source: Roger Mohrlang in here), and “big canoe stopping metal” in Kouya.

Eddie Arthur tells the story of the translation into Kouya: “A slightly more prosaic example comes from Paul’s sea voyages in the Book of Acts. In Acts 27, when Paul’s ship was facing a huge storm, there are several references to throwing out the anchor to save the ship. Now the Kouya live in a tropical rain-forest and have no vessels larger than dug-out canoes used for fishing on rivers. The idea of an anchor was entirely foreign to them. However, it was relatively easy to devise a descriptive term along the lines of ‘boat stopping metal’ that captured the essential nature of the concept. This was fine when we were translating the word anchor in its literal sense. However, in Hebrews 6:19 we read that hope is an anchor for our souls. It would clearly make no sense to use ‘boat stopping metal’ at this point as the concept would simply not have any meaning. So in this verse we said that faith was like the foundation which keeps a house secure. One group working in the Sahel region of West Africa spoke of faith being like a tent peg which keeps a tent firm against the wind. I hope you can see the way in which these two translations capture the essence of the image in the Hebrews verse while being more appropriate to the culture.”

Click or tap here to see a short video clip showing an anchor in biblical times (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also ship / boat, rudder, and anchor (figurative).