inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (1Cor. 15:30)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

The inclusive “we” specifically includes the addressee (“you and I and possibly others”), while the exclusive “we” specifically excludes the addressee (“he/she/they and I, but not you”). This grammatical distinction is called “clusivity.” While Semitic languages such as Hebrew or most Indo-European languages such as Greek or English do not make that distinction, translators of languages with that distinction have to make a choice every time they encounter “we” or a form thereof (in English: “we,” “our,” or “us”).

For this verse, translators typically select the exclusive form, only referring to Paul.

In Huautla Mazatec, however, the translators selected the inclusive we, referring to Paul and the readers of the letter.

Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.

complete verse (1 Corinthians 15:30)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 15:30:

  • Uma: “And we (excl.) also, there almost isn’t any cessation of our being threatened by our (excl.) enemies because of our (excl.) carrying the Good News. Yet if the dead really aren’t caused to live again, what’s the use of all of that which we (excl.) suffer?” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “And we (excl.), if we (excl.) don’t believe that the dead will really be made alive again, we (excl.) would not always endure like this in danger.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “As for us (excl.) also, what value is it for us if we (incl.) are not raised from the dead in the future? For why do we (excl.) still endure that which is very dangerous?” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “And as for us (excl.) moreover, would we (excl.) in fact risk our (excl.) lives continually if there were truly no living again of the dead?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “And as for us (excl.), why would we risk our lives hourly if we didn’t have assurance that we would be made to live again in the future?” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “And how come I put myself in danger all the days if the dead do not resurrect?” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)