confess (sin)

The Greek that is typically translated as “confess” in English in the context of these verses is translated in a variety of ways. Here are some (back-) translations:

  • Highland Puebla Nahuatl, Tzeltal: “to say openly”
  • San Blas Kuna: “to accuse oneself of his own evil”
  • Kankanaey: “telling the truth about their sins”
  • Huastec: “to take aim at one’s sin” (“an idiom which is derived from the action of a hunter taking aim at a bird or animal”) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • Tabasco Chontal: “saying ‘It is true, I’ve done evil'” (source: Larson 1998, p. 204)
  • Central Pame: “pulling out the heart” (“so that it may be clearly seen — not just by men, but by God”) (source: Nida 1952, p. 155)
  • Shipibo-Conibo: “to say, It is true we have sinned” (source: Nida 1964, p. 228)
  • Obolo: itutumu ijo isibi: “speaking out sin” (source: Enene Enene).

love (for God)

Nida (1952, p. 125ff.) reports on different translation of the Greek and Hebrew terms that are translated as “love” when referring to loving God:

“The Toro So Dogon people on the edge of the Sahara in French West Africa speak of ‘love for God’ as ‘to put God in our hearts.’ This does not mean that God can be contained wholly within the heart of a man, but the Eternal does live within the hearts of men by His Holy Spirit, and it is only love which prompts the soul to ‘put God in the heart.’

“The Mitla Zapotec Indians, nestled in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, describe ‘love’ in almost opposite words. Instead of putting God into one’s own heart, they say, ‘my heart goes away with God.’ Both the Toro So Dogon and the Zapotecs are right. There is a sense in which God dwells within us, and there is also a sense in which our hearts are no longer our own. They belong to Him, and the object of affection is not here on earth, but as pilgrims with no certain abiding place we long for that fuller fellowship of heaven itself.

“The Uduks seem to take a rather superficial view of love, for they speak of it as ‘good to the eye.’ But we must not judge spiritual insight or capacity purely on the basis of idioms. Furthermore, there is a sense in which this idiom is quite correct. In fact the Greek term agapé, which is used primarily with the meaning of love of God and of the Christian community, means essentially ‘to appreciate the worth and value of something.’ It is not primarily the love which arises from association and comradeship (this is philé), but it defines that aspect of love which prompted God to love us when there was no essential worth or value in us, except as we could be remade in the image of His Son. Furthermore, it is the love which must prompt us to see in men and women, still unclaimed for Jesus Christ, that which God can do by the working of His Spirit. This is the love which rises higher than personal interests and goes deeper than sentimental attachment. This is the basis of the communion of the saints.

“Love may sometimes be described in strong, powerful terms. The Miskitos of the swampy coasts of eastern Nicaragua and Honduras say that ‘love’ is ‘pain of the heart.’ There are joys which become so intense that they seem to hurt, and there is love which so dominates the soul that its closest emotion seems to be pain. The Tzotzils, living in the cloud-swept mountains of Chiapas in southern Mexico, describe love in almost the same way as the Miskitos. They say it is ‘to hurt in the heart.’ (…)

“The Q’anjob’al Indians of northern Guatemala have gone even a step further. They describe love as ‘my soul dies.’ Love is such that, without experiencing the joy of union with the object of our love, there is a real sense in which ‘the soul dies.’ A man who loves God according to the Conob idiom would say ‘my soul dies for God.’ This not only describes the powerful emotion felt by the one who loves, but it should imply a related truth—namely, that in true love there is no room for self. The man who loves God must die to self. True love is of all emotions the most unselfish, for it does not look out for self but for others. False love seeks to possess; true love seeks to be possessed. False love leads to cancerous jealousy; true love leads to a life-giving ministry.” (Source: Nida 1952)

In Mairasi, the term that is used for love for God, by God and for people is the same: “desire one’s face.” (source: Enggavoter 2004)

In Ogea the word for “love” is “die for someone.” (Source: Sandi Colburn in Holzhausen 1991, p. 22)

anchor (figurative)

The Greek that is translated into English as “anchor (of the soul)” in English is, due to non-existing nautical language, rendered as xuk’chotontib (“that which becomes unmovable”) in Chol (source: Steven 1979, p. 75), as “iron crab” in Bawm Chin (source; David Clark), as “foundation” in Tsou (source: Peng Kuo-Wei), in Mossi as “a strong and steadfast picketting-peg” (source: Nida 1952, p. 46) and in Enlhet as “that holds up like a rope” (source: See Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff).

In Kouya the translation is “the foundation which keeps a house secure.” Eddie Arthur tells this story: “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.”

with you/whom I am well pleased

The Greek that is translated as “with you (or: whom) I am well pleased” in English is often translated in other languages with figurative expressions, including “you are the heart of my eye” (Huastec), “you arrive at my gall” (with the gall being the seat of the emotions and intelligence) (Mossi), “I see you very well” (Tzotzil), “you make me very happy” (Sayula Popoluca), “my bowels are sweet with you” (Shilluk) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida), “you pull at my heart” (Central Pame), “my thoughts are arranged” (Mashco Piro), “my heart rests in you” (Wè Southern) (source for this and two above: Nida 1952, p. 127).

saint

The Greek that is translated as “saint” in English is rendered into Highland Puebla Nahuatl as “those with clean hearts,” into Northwestern Dinka as “those with white hearts,” and into Western Kanjobal as “people of prayer.” (Source: Nida 1952, p. 146)

In Ixcatlán Mazatec it is translated as “followers of Jesus” (source: Robert Bascom), in Tzeltal as whom God possesses,” in Highland Totonac as “children of God,” and in Yatzachi Zapotec as “clean-hearted people” (source for this ans two above: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.).

the way of peace they have not known

The Greek that is translated as “the way of peace they have not known” or similar in English is translated into Chol as “they have not known the road of the quiet heart.”

Source: Nida, p. 40

pride

The Greek that is translated as “pride” in English is translated as “they continually boast” (Amganad Ifugao), “they lift themselves up” (Tzeltal), “they answer haughtily” (Yucateco) (source: Bratcher / Nida), “an unbent neck” (like llamas) (Kaqchikel) (source: Nida 1952, p. 151), or “those that praise themselves, saying: We are better” (Shipibo-Conibo) (source: Nida 1964, p. 237).

redeemer

The Hebrew that is translated as “redeemer” in English is translated the following way in these languages:

In Luba-Katanga it is Mukuji, a traditional term for “Kinsman Redeemer.” “In Luba-Katanga the first word used was derived from the background of slavery. This first word. however, proved inadequate. Mr. Clarke [who worked on the first Luba-Katanga Bible] tells in his own words how he found the perfect term: ‘There came a lad weeping, with body cruelly lacerated, saying to me, ‘See how cruel my master is to me!’ and I said, I will redeem you’. With piteous tears, he cried, ‘You are not able to redeem me. A great price only can be paid for my redemption’. ‘What shall I pay?’ I asked, ‘I can give calico and a gun if need be — I shall certainly redeem you,’ but once more came the cry, ‘You are not able to redeem me, for you are no relation of mine. If you would help me, go to my father and mother, and bring them here with the ransom for my redemption. Only my parents or one of my relatives can redeem me. You may buy me, but I would be your slave’. So, after years of waiting, we found the word Mukuji, which brought to us the significance of the ’Kinsman-Redeemer’.” (Source: Wilfred Bradnock in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 49ff.)

In Tai Dam the translation is “Lord-come-seek-buy.” “This is the Lord who came and sought us, and then bought us for Himself. Just “to buy a person” might imply acquiring a personal slave. But one comes seeking in order to buy is one who is earnestly looking for the straying sheep who is lost in the mountainside in his own sinful wandering away form the Shepherd of his soul.” (Source: Nida 1952, p. 139.)

See also redeem / redemption and next-of-kin / kinsman-redeemer / close relative.

compassion, moved with compassion

The Greek that is translated with “moved with compassion (or: pity)” in English is translated as “to see someone with sorrow” in Piro, “to suffer with someone” in Huastec, or “one’s mind to be as it were out of one” in Balinese (source: Bratcher / Nida).

The term “compassion” is translated as “cries in the soul” in Shilluk (source: Nida, 1952, p. 132), “has a good stomach” (=”sympathetic”) in Aari (source: Loren Bliese), “has a big liver” in Una (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 471), or “crying in one’s stomach” in Q’anjob’al (source: Newberry and Kittie Cox in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 91ff.). In Mairasi it is translated with an emphasized term that is used for “love”: “desiring one’s face so much” (source: Enggavoter 2004).

See also Seat of the Mind for traditional views of “ways of knowing, thinking, and feeling.”

send away empty-handed

The Greek that is typically translated as “send (him) away empty-handed” in English is translated in Punu with the existing idiom “send (him) away holding his hands.”

Source: Nida 1952, p. 54

savior

The Greek that is translated with “savior” in English in translated in Laka as “one who takes us by the hand.” (Source: Nida 1952, p. 140)