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.

idol / idols

The Hebrew, Greek and Latin that is translated as “idol(s)” in English is translated in Central Subanen as ledawan or “images.” (Source: Robert Brichoux in OPTAT 1988/2, p. 80ff. )

In German, typically the term Götze is used. Originally this was used as a term of endearment for Gott (“God” — see here ), later for “icon” and “image, likeness.” Luther started to use it in the 16th century in the meaning of “false god, idol.”

Other terms that are used in German include Götzenbild(er) (“image[s] of idols”) or Bildnis (“image” — Protestant) / Kultbild (“cultish image” — Catholic) (used for instance in Exodus 20:4 and Deuteronomy 5:8). The latest revision of the Catholic Einheitsübersetzung (publ. 2016) also uses the neologism Nichtse (“nothings”) in 1 Chron. 16:26 and Psalm 96:5. (Source: Zetzsche)

See also worthless idols.

complete verse (1 Corinthians 8:7)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Corinthians 8:7:

  • Uma: “But even though it is like that, not all Kristen people’s hearts are clear like that. There are some who worshipped idols before they became Kristen people, and even to this time if they see food that has been offered to idols, they say in their heart: ‘That is an offering to an idol!’ So, if they eat that food, in their heart they feel like they have sinned, for their heart is still uncertain.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “But there are (some) of our (incl.) fellow trusters in Isa Almasi who don’t know yet that the idols don’t have any power. Because they were formerly used to those idols, therefore if they now eat food that was given to the idols they think-mistakenly that they are still included in worshiping those idols. Then they are troubled in their thinking; they think-mistakenly (that) they sinned already if they happen to eat food (that was) given to the idols.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “However, there are some of our fellow believers who do not realize that false gods have no power over them, and it’s very difficult for them to abandon the beliefs which were left behind for them about these false gods. And if they eat food which has been offered, the thing that sticks in their mind is that they have joined in the worship of a false god. And because of this, their breath becomes bad (they feel guilty) because they suppose mistakenly that they have sinned because they have eaten meat which has been offered to a false god.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “But there are companions of ours who believe whose understanding of this is not yet correct, because they were accustomed to worshipping idols, so when they eat what has been offered to idols, they still consider that they are joining-in-worshipping them. The result is, they feel dirty, because they still think that what they are doing is not right.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “But it’s not all believers who understand this. For there are some who mistakenly-think that these pretend gods are true/real for that’s what they were born into (lit. awakened to). And because they were very used to worshipping these things in the past, that’s why up till now, if they join in a feast at the worship house of the pretend ones, in their mind/inner-being, they are again worshipping a god which has reality. Therefore, because their minds have not yet comprehended that there is no reality to these pretend ones, they will be dragged into trespassing on what their mind/inner-being forbids them to do.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “But not all our brothers understand well about this matter. These people have customarily worshipped the idols. Therefore now in that their faith is not strong, in their thoughts when they eat meat which was killed to sacrifice to idols, they think they are committing a sin.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on 1 Corinthians 8:7

From here to the end of the chapter, as the paragraph division in the UBS Greek text suggests, Paul turns to another aspect of the same question, that of the “weaker brethren.” These are the less mature Christians for whom idols still have some real existence.

This before knowledge is implied. The meaning is “not everyone has this mature kind of knowledge of which we have been speaking.”

Both the text and the meaning of the words translated some … to idols are uncertain. The UBS Greek text is literally “but some in the custom until now of the idol as meat-offered-to idols eat.” Instead of “custom” many manuscripts have “conscience,” which is a similar word in Greek. But this text is almost certainly influenced by the fact that conscience occurs later in the verse. “Custom” is the most likely word here. It is clear that an idol refers to idols in general, not to a particular idol. Some translations spell out in greater detail what is meant by being … accustomed to idols, either “idolatry” (Revised English Bible), or (perhaps too generally) “the old ideas” (Die Bibel im heutigen Deutsch). The danger of the translation “idolatry” is that it might wrongly suggest that these Christians were still taking part in the worship of idols. A possible translation is, then, “Some people have been so used in the past to worshiping idols, that to this day….” “To this day” refers, not directly to eating meat sacrificed to idols, but to being used to a former way of thinking about idols.

The sentence their conscience, being weak, is defiled may be translated “because their conscience is weak, they feel that they are defiled….”

Paul uses the word conscience frequently in this letter; see also 8.10, 12; 10.25, 27; 2 Cor 1.12; 4.2; 5.11. Its earlier meaning was “consciousness.” It is especially used of a bad conscience, that its, the consciousness of having done something wrong. In this verse the meaning conscience and “consciousness” are combined, as Good News Bible‘s addition of the words “they feel” shows. Many languages must express the idea of conscience with a phrase. In such cases one may say, for example, “their ability to discern between right and wrong is weak, and they feel…” or “they have difficulty deciding between what is right and wrong, and they feel….”

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 .