The Greek that is typically translated as “eternity,” “forever,” or “forever and ever” in English are translated in Mairasi as “mashed out infinitely.” Lloyd Peckham explains: “Bark cloth required pounding. It got longer and wider as it got pounded. Similarly, life gets pounded or mashed to lengthen it into infinity. Tubers also get mashed into the standard way of serving the staple food, like the fufu of Uganda, or like poi of Hawaii. It spreads out into infinity.”
The Greek that is translated in English as “eternal life” is translated in various ways:
- Berik: “good living forever” (source: Kroneman 2004, p. 536)
- Asháninka: “keep on living”
- Aguaruna: “will always live”
- Yanesha’: “immortal state forever”
- Inupiaq: “endless life”
- Colorado: “live forever with God”
- Lalana Chinantec: “heart will be alive forever,” (source for this and five above: M. Larson / B. Moore in Notes on Translation February 1970, p. 1-125)
- Tagalog: buhay na walang hanggan: “life which has no boundary”
- Iloko: biagna nga agnanayon: “continuing life” (source for this and one above: G. Henry Waterman in The Bible Translator 1960, p. 24ff.)
- Kele: loiko: “survival: enduring through crisis, catastrophe and death” (source: William Ford in The Bible Translator 1957, p. 203ff.).
- Mairasi as “life fruit” (source: Enggavoter 2004).
Lloyd Peckham explains the Mairasi translation: “In secret stories, not knowable to women nor children, there was a magical fruit of life. If referred to vaguely, without specifying the specific ‘fruit,’ it can be an expression for eternity.”
Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). 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 (excluding the addressee).
Source: Velma Pickett and Florence Cowan in Notes on Translation January 1962, p. 1ff.
Following are a number of back-translations of 1 John 1:2:
- Uma: “The one who gives life, he appeared in this world, and we (excl.) saw [emphatic] him. That’s why we (excl.) make-clear [i.e., explain] to you who he is, and testify that he is the one who gives good life forever. From the first he already was with God the Father, and he appeared to us (excl.).” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
- Yakan: “He was shown/revealed in the shape/form of a human/mankind. We (excl.) really saw him therefore we (excl.) witness telling you about the one who gives life which has no end. In the beginning he was there with his Father God, and he was shown/revealed to us (excl.).” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
- Western Bukidnon Manobo: “When this source of life came down here to the earth, we (excl.) saw Him, and because of that we will tell you what we have seen. We will explain to you about the One titled Life Without End. He was the companion of our Father God before, and then He was revealed to us (excl.) here on the earth.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
- Tagbanwa: “Yes indeed, he who is the source of life, he was made evident to us (excl.). We(excl.) really saw him. That’s why we (excl.) now testify about him, and we (excl.) are now teaching you concerning him who is alive without ending. From long ago, he was already there in the presence of God the Father, and now/today, he has been made evident to us (excl.).” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
- Tenango Otomi: “This one who gives the new life caused it to be known who he was. And we saw him and now we give our witness that we saw him. Now we tell you that this one who gives the new life has no beginning and has no ending to his life. He was living there where his Father is, but he came here so that we saw him.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)
- Yatzachi Zapotec: “He revealed himself to us and we saw him and we say that he lives eternally. And we proclaim to you (plural) that he is with our (in) father God and how he revealed himself to us.”
- Eastern Highland Otomi: “And he the Word who gives the new life showed himself to us in that he became a person. And we saw that he really became a person. So that’s what we are telling you now, that he is the one who was living, and lives now, and will never end. He was living with his Father and later came into the world and showed himself to us.”
- Tzotzil: “He showed himself that he is the giver of life. We saw him. Therefore we tell you (plural) what he is like the giver of everlasting life, who was there with our (inclusive) Father God. Afterwards he came and showed himself before us.”
- Garifuna: “The one who gives life has been shown to us…” (Source for this and three above: John Beekman in Notes on Translation 12, November 1964, p. 1ff.)