conscience

The Greek that is rendered in English as “conscience” is translated into Aari as “our thoughts speak to us,” in Nuer it is “the knowledge of their heart” (source: Jan Sterk), in Cheke Holo “to know what is straight and what is wrong” (source: Carl Gross), in Chokwe “law of the heart” (source D.B. Long in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 135ff. ), in Toraja-Sa’dan penaa ma’pakilala or “the admonishing within” (source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 21 ff. ), in Yatzachi Zapotec as “head-hearts,” in Tzeltal as “hearts” (source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.), in Enlhet as “innermost,” in Northern Emberá as “thinking” (source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1975, p. 201ff. ), and in Elhomwe as “what reminds the heart” or “whole heart” (“since the idea of conscience is something that reminds the heart”) (source: project-specific translation notes in Paratext).

In Warao it is translated with obojona, a term that “includes the concepts of consciousness, will, attitude, attention and a few other miscellaneous notions” (source: Henry Osborn in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 74ff. ). See other occurrences of Obojona in the Warao New Testament.

See also conscience seared and perfect conscience / clear conscience, clear conscience towards God and all people, and brothers, up to this day I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God.

complete verse (1 Corinthians 10:29)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 10:29:

  • Uma: “What I am saying is, we’d better not eat it because we consider the other’s heart. As for our own heart, it’s nothing / it doesn’t matter if we eat it. Yet certainly someone will say: ‘Why can my desire be limited/blocked by another person?” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But for example if there is someone who says that that viand was given to the idols, don’t eat it because of the person who told you. For example if he sees you eating it, he is troubled in his mind, he thinks that you are sinning. Perhaps some of you say, ‘Why shouldn’t I eat just because of a person who is easily troubled in his thinking.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “However, if there is a believer who says, ‘This viand has been sacrificed to an idol,’ then don’t you eat that viand because he might be reluctant to eat it and he will become upset (literally, his breath will become painful) if you eat that. Certainly someone will ask, you will say, ‘If it’s allowable that I do anything, why I must avoid an activity that people who really don’t understand properly think is bad?” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But in-the-event there is someone eating-with (you) there who says to you (sing.), ‘This food was offered in the temple,’ don’t eat it because of him, because in his mind it’s a sin. Because what perhaps will be the use if you (sing.) insist-on (lit. force) your (sing.) freedom to eat and your (sing.) companion thinks it’s a sin?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Yes indeed, think well about the mind/inner-being of others, not just your own. For even if your mind/thinking is not agitated if you eat it, what’s the gain/use if the mind/thinking of your companion is agitated?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Although you know that all the meat is the same, yet do not eat the meat which other people think is not right to eat. Now, I suppose that there are some who will say to me: ‘Why is it that I should abstain from what I eat on account of what another person thinks?” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:29

The relation between these sentences and the context is uncertain. The simplest solution is that of Revised Standard Version and Barclay, which is to put these sentences in parentheses, thus allowing verse 29b to follow on naturally from verse 27. The difficulty is that Paul returns to the theme of verses 28-29a in verses 31-32. Other modern translations begin a new paragraph at verse 29b. The main theme in this passage is Christian freedom, which Paul discusses more thoroughly in chapter 9. In verses 28-29a, though, Paul is willing to allow a certain limitation in the use of Christian freedom.

Commentators discuss whether some one and the man who informed you refer to the same individual as the person designated by his conscience in 29a. Most probably they do, but some one is quite general and should not be made specific in translation.

Some manuscripts have the Greek word meaning “offered to idols” (Good News Bible), which Paul more commonly used and which has a bad meaning. However, the UBS Greek text has a neutral or positive word that means “offered to sacred beings” (see introduction to 8.1-13), and which major modern translations render “offered in sacrifice.” Paul uses the word that a pagan would naturally choose. If the context is not sufficiently clear, it may be necessary in some languages to be explicit and say “offered to idols as a sacrifice.”

The man who informed you and for conscience’ sake are closely connected in the Greek. It is possible without loss of meaning to translate “do not eat it, not because of your conscience, but because of the conscience of the other person who told you about the meat.” The word translated offered in sacrifice must refer to the killing of animals for sacrifice.

I mean his conscience, not yours may also be expanded to “I am speaking about his conscience, not yours.” Parola Del Signore: La Bibbia in Lingua Corrente restructures 28b and 29a as follows: “then for motive of conscience do not eat it because of the one who informed you; naturally I am speaking of his conscience, not yours.”

Note that do not eat it occurs at the beginning of verse 28b in the Greek, as in Good News Bible. It should be positioned wherever good style demands in the translator’s language.

For suggests a logical connection with something that proceeds, probably Paul’s main line of thought expressed in verse 27. However, Parola Del Signore: La Bibbia in Lingua Corrente, Revised English Bible, and Translator’s New Testament agree with Good News Bible that Paul is here quoting an objector. The weakness of this argument, though, is that Paul does not reply directly to the objection; nor does this interpretation make sense of the introductory For in the Greek. For this reason many translations, including Revised Standard Version, Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch, New American Bible, New International Version, and New Jerusalem Bible, understand Paul to be speaking in his own name. This makes better sense, but translators must connect verse 29b with 27, not 29a. Revised Standard Version has done this.

Héring gives a good translation of 29b, although he connects it with verse 29a: “What is the use of my freedom being judged by someone else’s conscience?” One could also say “Why should someone else’s conscience limit my freedom to do something?”

Liberty: see 9.1, 19.

The end of this sentence is literally “by another conscience.” But in many languages, as in English, it is unnatural to speak of the conscience as if it were independent of the person to whom it belongs. So it is better to say something like Good News Bible‘s “by another person’s conscience” or “by what another person feels is right or wrong.”

As elsewhere, a rhetorical question is often equivalent to a strong statement, in this case a negative one. One may say “For my liberty should not be determined by another person’s conscience.”

Quoted with permission from Ellingworth, Paul and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, 2nd edition. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1985/1994. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .