flesh (human nature)

The Greek that is often translated as “flesh” in English (when referring to the lower human nature) can, according to Nidq (1947, p. 153) “very rarely be literally translated into another language. ‘My meat’ or ‘my muscle’ does not make sense in most languages.” He then gives a catalog of almost 30 questions to determine a correct translation for that term.

Accordingly, the translations are very varied:

See also spirit / flesh.

brother (fellow Christian)

The Greek that is translated in English as “brother” (in the sense of a fellow Christian) is translated with a specifically coined word in Kachin: “There are two terms for brother in Kachin. One is used to refer to a Christian brother. This term combines ‘older and younger brother.’ The other term is used specifically for addressing siblings. When one uses this term, one must specify if the older or younger person is involved. A parallel system exists for ‘sister’ as well. In [these verses], the term for ‘a Christian brother’ is used.” (Source: Gam Seng Shae)

In Martu Wangka it is translated as “relative” (this is also the term that is used for “follower”.) (Source: Carl Gross)

See also brothers.

complete verse (1 Corinthians 3:1)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 3:1:

  • Uma: “Relatives, while I was with you, I could not speak to you like I speak to people who have received the Holy Spirit. I spoke to you like [I speak to] people who still follow the evil desires of their hearts. For at that time your faith in Kristus was not-yet clear, you were like babies in your faith.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “My brothers, when I was there with you formerly, I could not teach to you deep teaching as I teach to people who have the Spirit of God. I taught/preached to you like to people who follow their own desires. Your trust in Isa Almasi was not yet strong; you were like children recently born.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Brethren, when I was still with you, I could not teach you the deep teachings like I teach people who are guided by the Holy Spirit, because it’s as if you were still children in your believing in Christ and you are people who are controlled by your desires.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “My brothers, while I was staying with you, I was not able to teach you like I teach those whose faith is mature whom the Holy Spirit is leading, but rather I counted you as babies in faith because your minds/thoughts are still human (connotes sinful/limited humanity).” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “My siblings in believing, when I was still there with you, in my teaching it was not possible for me to regard you as people who follow/obey the leading of the Espiritu Santo, but rather as people who just indulge the desires of their own bodies. Even though you are united/tied-together with Cristo, as for your nature/ways, they are just like the ways of a child, not the ways of mature believing/obeying.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Listen my brothers, when I was where you live, I did not tell you the words which I tell the believers who already walk with the Holy Spirit. Rather, I told you the words which are not hard for you to know. Because you live like children who for only a short time have known about the word of Christ.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Christ, Messiah

The Greek Christos (Χρηστός) is typically transliterated when it appears together with Iésous (Ἰησοῦς) (Jesus). In English the transliteration is the Anglicized “Christ,” whereas in many other languages it is based on the Greek or Latin as “Kristus,” “Cristo,” or similar.

When used as a descriptive term in the New Testament — as it’s typically done in the gospels (with the possible exceptions of for instance John 1:17 and 17:3) — Christos is seen as the Greek translation of the Hebrew mashiaḥ (המשיח‎) (“anointed”). Accordingly, a transliteration of mashiaḥ is used, either as “Messiah” or based on the Greek or Latin as a form of “Messias.”

This transliteration is also used in the two instances where the Greek term Μεσσίας (Messias) is used in John 1:41 and 4:25.

In some languages and some translations, the term “Messiah” is supplemented with an explanation. Such as in the German Gute Nachricht with “the Messiah, the promised savior” (Wir haben den Messias gefunden, den versprochenen Retter) or in Muna with “Messiah, the Saving King” (Mesias, Omputo Fosalamatino) (source: René van den Berg).

In predominantly Muslim areas or for Bible translations for a Muslim target group, Christos is usually transliterated from the Arabic al-Masih (ٱلْمَسِيحِ) — “Messiah.” In most cases, this practice corresponds with languages that also use a form of the Arabic Isa (عيسى) for Jesus (see Jesus). There are some exceptions, though, including modern translations in Arabic which use Yasua (يَسُوعَ) (coming from the Aramaic Yēšūa’) alongside a transliteration of al-Masih, Hausa which uses Yesu but Almahisu, and some Fula languages (Adamawa Fulfulde, Nigerian Fulfulde, and Central-Eastern Niger Fulfulde) which also use a form of Iésous (Yeesu) but Almasiihu (or Almasiifu) for Christos.

Other solutions that are used by a number of languages include these:

  • Dobel: “the important one that God had appointed to come” (source: Jock Hughes)
  • Mairasi: “King of not dying for life all mashed out infinitely” (for “mashed out,” see salvation; source: Lloyd Peckham)
  • Bacama: Ma Pwa a Ngɨltən: “the one God has chosen” (source: David Frank in this blog post)
  • Binumarien: Anutuna: originally a term that was used for a man that was blessed by elders for a task by the laying on of hands (source: Desmond Oatridges, Holzhausen 1991, p. 49f.)
  • Uab Meto: Neno Anan: “Son of heaven” P. Middelkoop explains: “The idea of heavenly power bestowed on a Timorese king is rendered in the title Neno Anan. It is based on the historical fact that chiefs in general came from overseas and they who come thence are believed to have come down from heaven, from the land beyond the sea, that means the sphere of God and the ghosts of the dead. The symbolical act of anointing has been made subservient to the revelation of an eternal truth and when the term Neno Anan is used as a translation thereof, it also is made subservient to a new revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The very fact that Jesus came from heaven makes this translation hit the mark.” (source. P. Middelkoop in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 183ff.)