The Greek that is typically translated as “living being” in English is translated in Warao as “(made Adam) with obojona.” Obojona is 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. )
The Hebrew, Greek, and Latin that is translated as “soul” in English is translated in Chol with a term that refers to the invisible aspects of human beings (source: Robert Bascom).
The Mandarin Chineselínghún (靈魂 / 灵魂), literally “spirit-soul,” is often used for “soul” (along with xīn [心] or “heart”). This is a term that was adopted from Buddhist sources into early Catholic writings and later also by Protestant translators. (Source: Zetzsche 1996, p. 32, see also Clara Ho-yan Chan in this article )
Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 15:45:
Uma: “Like is written in the Holy Book: God made the first man, named Adam, and he gave him life. But Kristus can be named the last Adam. He is the one that gives us good live forever.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
Yakan: “For it is written in the holy-book, it says, ‘Grandfather Adam, the first person created by God, he was given life by God and his body was fit to live here in the world.’ But there is also one called the last Adam and this is Isa Almasi. He is the one who gives life everlasting.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
Western Bukidnon Manobo: “For there is a written word of God which says, ‘That first man Adam, God gave his body breath so that it might live here on the earth.’ But as for Christ, by contrast, that one who is given the title of the last Adam, he is the one who will give life without end so that we might live in Heaven.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
Kankanaey: “This jives likewise also with what God caused-to-be-written which says, ‘The first person who was Adan, he was given life,’ but there is also the one called Last Adan who is Cristo, and he is the one who gives life that has no end.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
Tagbanwa: “For it is written in the writing that that first person, Adan, was created and given life/breath. But superior to this is Cristo, who is called, the last Adan. For his body was replaced by a fit-for-heaven body and he became the giver of fit-for-heaven life which is without ending.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
Tenango Otomi: “It says in the Holy Book: ‘Adam, the first person to live, was made by God and God caused that he had life..’ it says. But Christ lives afterward and he was not just a human, he was able to give new life to people.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
The word Thus shows that Paul is now comparing his previous statements with the scriptural evidence for them.
It is written may be expressed as “it is written in the Scriptures.” See comments on 1.19.
The words first and Adam are not in the Old Testament text; Paul is inserting a little explanation in order to make a closer parallel to the last part of the sentence. The clause The first man Adam became a living being may also be translated as “God created the first man, Adam, as a living being.”
Became represents a rather general word in Greek. Good News Bible‘s “created” is possibly too technical. In any case, Paul is not stating that Christ was created by God the Father, and so “created” should not be used in the last clause.
The last Adam is identified with Christ, as in verses 21-22.
A life-giving spirit does not mean one spirit among others, or even in the case of Good News Bible‘s “life-giving Spirit,” the Holy Spirit. The difficulties of translation may be solved or avoided by an unusually literal translation: “the first human being, Adam, was made (into) a living being; but the last Adam a life-giving spirit.”
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 .