Mary / Martha / Lazarus (relative age), relative age of Mary and Martha and Lazarus

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

In Fuyug, Tae’, Batak Toba, and Chinese, Martha was assumed to be the older of the two sisters because she is mentioned first. (Sources: David Clark [Fuyug] and Reiling / Swellengrebel)

Navajo translates accordingly but for a different reason: “since Martha seemed to take the responsibility of the housework, she was probably the older of the two.” (Source: Wallis 2000, p. 103f.)

In Fuyug Lazarus is assumed to be the oldest sibling on the grounds that he died first. (Source: David Clark)

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.)

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).

virgin

The Greek that is mostly translated as “virgin” in English can be translated as “woman that is untouched” in Batak Toba or “a woman with a whole (i.e. unopened) body” in Uab Meto. In some cases, however, such terms, or descriptive phrases like, “a woman who has not been with a man,” are felt to be too outspoken. Hence, in English versions the rendering has been toned down from “virgin,” via “maiden” (Goodspeed 1923/1935, Rieu 1954), to “girl” (New English Bible 1961/1970), and in Batak Toba from “woman that is untouched” to “girl” (lit. “female child”).

Similar words for “girl,” “unmarried young woman,” suggesting virginity without explicitly stating it, are found in Marathi, Apache, or Kituba. Cultural features naturally influence connotations of possible renderings, for instance, the child marriage customs in some Tboli areas, where the boy and girl are made to sleep together at the initial marriage, but after that do not live together and may not see each other again for years. Hence, the closest attainable equivalent, “female adolescent,” does not imply that a young girl is not living with her husband, and that she never had a child, but leaves uncertain whether she has ever slept with a male person or not. Accordingly, in Luke one has to depend on Luke 1:34 to make clear that Mary and Joseph had not had sexual intercourse. A different problem is encountered in Pampanga, where birhen (an adaptation of Spanish “virgen” — “virgin”), when standing alone, is a name of the “Virgin Mary.” To exclude this meaning the version uses “marriageable birhen,” thus at the same time indicating that Mary was relatively young. (Source: Reiling / Swellengrebel)

In Navajo, the term that is used is “no husband yet” (Source: Wallis, p. 106) and in Gola the expression “trouser girl.” “In the distant past young women who were virgins wore trousers. Those who were not virgins wore dresses. That doesn’t hold true anymore, but the expression is still there in the language.” (Source: Don Slager)

The term in Djimini Senoufo is katogo jo — “village-dance-woman” (women who have been promised but who are still allowed to go to dances with unmarried women). (Source: Übersetzung heute 3/1995)