In choosing a word for the Greek that is typically translated as “gospel” in English, a number of languages construct a phrase meaning “good news,” “joyful report” or “happiness-bringing words.” In some instances such a phrase may be slightly expanded in order to convey the proper meaning, e.g. “new good word” (Tzotzil), or it may involve some special local usage:

  • “good story” (Navajo)
  • “joyful telling” (Tausug)
  • “joyful message” (Toraja-Sa’dan) (source for this and all above: Bratcher / Nida)
  • cohuen ñoñets or “message of God” (Shilluk) (source: Nida 1964, p. 237)
  • “good news” (Yanesha’) (source: Martha Duff in Holzhausen 1991, p. 11)
  • “voice of good spirit” (San Blas Kuna)(source: Claudio Iglesias [Mr. and Mrs.] in The Bible Translator 1951, p. 85ff. )
  • suviśēṣattinṟe (0സുവിശേഷം) or “good narrative” (Malayalam)
  • susmachar (ସୁସମାଚାର) or “good matter” (Odia)
  • suvārteya (ಸುವಾರ್ತೆಯ) or “good word” (Kannada) (source for this and two above: Y.D. Tiwari in The Bible Translator 1962, p. 132ff. )
  • the German das Buch translation by Roland Werner (publ. 2009-2022) translates as “all-transformative good news” (alles verändernde gute Botschaft), also “good news”
Vitaly Voinov tells this story about the translation into Rutul (click or tap here to see the rest of this insight):

“In Rutul, it was only during the most recent consultant checking session that I realized that the Rutul word for Gospel – Incir (from Arabic إنجيل — Injil) — sounds and looks exactly like the word that means ‘fig’ in Rutul. This is a case of homonymy, in which two completely non-related words from differing historical sources have come to sound exactly alike. Most Rutul speakers know that incir means ‘fig’ because they grow this fruit in their yard or buy it at the market every week. However, because the religious sphere of discourse was heavily disparaged during the Soviet era, most people simply never encountered Incir with the meaning of ‘Gospel.’ This meaning of the word, which Rutuls of the pre-Soviet era knew from the Koran, simply fell into disuse and never had much reason for returning into contemporary Rutul since there is no Christian church established among the people. So if the translator continues to use the term Incir as the rendering for ‘Gospel,’ he runs the risk that most readers will, at best, read the word with a smile because they know that it also means ‘fig,’ and, at worst, will completely misunderstand the word. The seemingly ‘easy’ solution in this case is for the translator to use a Rutul neologism meaning ‘Joyful Message’ or ‘Good News,’ [see above] instead of Incir; but in fact it is not all that easy to make this change if the translator himself insists on using the historical word because at least some Rutuls still understand it as meaning ‘Gospel.’ This is a situation in which the translation team has to gradually grow into the understanding that a fully intelligible translation of Scripture is preferable to one that maintains old words at the cost of alienating much of the readership.”

For “good news,” see also Isaiah 52:7.

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (2Cor. 1:14)

Many languages distinguish between inclusive and exclusive first-person plural pronouns (“we”). (Click or tap here to see more details)

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 (only referring to the author).

Source: SIL International Translation Department (1999)

complete verse (2 Corinthians 11:4)

Following are a number of back-translations of 2 Corinthians 11:4:

  • Uma: “People arrive there teaching you to follow Yesus, but their teaching isn’t the same as what we (excl.) taught you. But even so, you are actually patient listening to their teaching! You are actually glad to receive a spirit that is different from the Holy Spirit that you have already received! You are actually glad to receive news that is different than the Good News that you have already believed!” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Because if someone comes and preaches to you, you are still happy even if their preaching about Isa is different from our (excl.) preaching; and you receive (something) which is not the Holy Spirit, and their teaching is not the good news that we (excl.) taught you.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “The reason I am worried about you is because if someone comes there to you and they teach something different about Jesus, and it’s a different spirit that they teach about, and what they teach is not the true doctrine which we taught to you but rather what they teach is different, then you just allow their teaching and that’s not all, because you very much like to listen to it.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Because if there are those who arrive who are preaching something different about Jesus, you definitely don’t turn-a-deaf-ear-to them. You also easily receive a spirit (RL ispirito) who is different from the Holy Spirit whom you originally received. And you also easily believe news that they say is good but it is different from the good news that we (excl.) preached to you. Oh you (expression of rebuke)! Why do you put-up-with them?” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Because you accept the teaching of anybody who arrives, even if what they teach concerning Jesus is different from what we (excl.) taught you. You are acknowledging it as true even if the Espiritu that they teach you about is different from the Espiritu Santo, and even if they are replacing the Good News we taught you.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Because concerning whoever arrives with a different teaching, not the same as what I taught you about Christ, that is the one you pay attention to. It is different what they teach you about the Holy Spirit, it is different what they teach you about the good news, it isn’t the same as the word I have already taught you.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)