lay hands on

The Greek that is translated as “lay hands on (someone)” in English is translated in Tae’ with “‘He-pressed-down,’ a verb that in former times was used with the specific meaning of ‘to press down one’s hand on a person’s head,’ in order to fortify his soul after a dangerous experience, but in Christian usage came to refer to the gesture made when blessing a person.”

chaste behavior, pure, pure conduct

The Greek in 1 Peter 3:2 that is translated in English as “pure conduct” (or “chaste behavior”) is translated in Balanta-Kentohe as “good walk.” (Source: Rob Koops)

The standalone term that is translated as “pure” is translated in Mezquital Otomi as “that which cleanses one’s thoughts,” and in Alekano as “making our insides white.” (Source: Ellis Deibler in Notes on Translation July, 1967, p. 5ff.).

See also snow (color).


The Hebrew and Greek that is typically translated as “sin” in English has a wide variety of translations.

The Greek ἁμαρτάνω (hamartanō) carries the original verbatim meaning of “miss the mark.” Likewise, many translations contain the “connotation of moral responsibility.” Loma has (for certain types of sin) “leaving the road” (which “implies a definite standard, the transgression of which is sin”) or Navajo uses “that which is off to the side.” (Source: Bratcher / Nida). In Toraja-Sa’dan the translation is kasalan, which originally meant “transgression of a religious or moral rule” and has shifted its meaning in the context of the Bible to “transgression of God’s commandments.” (Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 21 ff.).

In Shipibo-Conibo the term is hocha. Nida (1952, p. 149) tells the story of its choosing:

“In some instances a native expression for sin includes many connotations, and its full meaning must be completely understood before one ever attempts to use it. This was true, for example, of the term hocha first proposed by Shipibo-Conibo natives as an equivalent for ‘sin.’ The term seemed quite all right until one day the translator heard a girl say after having broken a little pottery jar that she was guilty of ‘hocha.’ Breaking such a little jar scarcely seemed to be sin. However, the Shipibos insisted that hocha was really sin, and they explained more fully the meaning of the word. It could be used of breaking a jar, but only if the jar belonged to someone else. Hocha was nothing more nor less than destroying the possessions of another, but the meaning did not stop with purely material possessions. In their belief God owns the world and all that is in it. Anyone who destroys the work and plan of God is guilty of hocha. Hence the murderer is of all men most guilty of hocha, for he has destroyed God’s most important possession in the world, namely, man. Any destructive and malevolent spirit is hocha, for it is antagonistic and harmful to God’s creation. Rather than being a feeble word for some accidental event, this word for sin turned out to be exceedingly rich in meaning and laid a foundation for the full presentation of the redemptive act of God.”

In Kaingang, the translation is “break God’s word” and in Sandawe the original meaning of the Greek term (see above) is perfectly reflected with “miss the mark.” (Source: Ursula Wiesemann in Holzhausen / Riderer 2010, p. 36ff., 43)

In Warao it is translated as “bad 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.). See other occurrences of Obojona in the Warao New Testament.

See also sinner.

complete verse (1 Timothy 5:22)

Following are a number of back-translations of 1 Timothy 5:22:

  • Uma: “Don’t quickly appoint people to be religion leaders, lest [people] end up being-angry-at/taking-it-out-on you later on if/when they commit sins. Examine first their character, and then put your hands on their pate to appoint them to be a religion leader. Be careful that your own behavior is holy.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Don’t you (sing.) hastily choose a person to become a leader there among you (pl.) the ones who trust in Isa Almasi but observe first his customs. Because if for example the person chosen by you (sing.) sins, including you are implicated in his sin. Be careful/watch out, don’t sin in your deeds and in your thinking/mind.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “It is necessary that you are not in a hurry to choose someone to lead the believers. For if he sins, you are the one who will be blamed. It is necessary that you be blameless in this.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “If there is also one you (sing.) choose to serve Cristo, don’t (sing.) be in a hurry to appoint him. Because if he has a sin while meanwhile you (sing.) appoint him, you (sing.) will of-course be included in his sin. Be-careful/Do-a-good-job therefore in what you (sing.) do so that you (sing.) will distance-yourself from everything that is evil.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Be careful not to put your hands too readily on anyone’s head and pray for him to istall him to-exercize-a-responsibility/job. Rather think well whether he is fit for this responsibility/job. Be careful always that you don’t get involved/implicated in the sins of others. Make sure that you hold fast to being far from sin.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “If you need to appoint someone to lead at the church, do not want to be in a hurry to do so. Wait and first see how that person walks. What if you appoint a person and it is known that he has sin? Do not want that the people will say that you approve of the sin the person has done whom you appoint. You yourself must never commit sin.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)