complete verse (2 Corinthians 3:13)

Following are a number of back-translations of 2 Corinthians 3:13:

  • Uma: “We(excl.) don’t hide anything. We(excl.) are not like the prophet Musa long ago, who hid his face with a veil. He hid his face so that the Yahudi people would not see its shine that was decreasing until it vanished/went-out.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “There is nothing that we (excl.) have hidden. We (excl.) are not like Musa. He covered-his-head-including-face so that the people of Isra’il would not see God’s brightness in his face decrease and eventually disappear.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “We are not like Moses because we have nothing to hide; because as for Moses, he covered up his face so that his fellow descendants of Israel could not see the shining power which was slowly fading/being removed.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “We (excl.) are not like Moses who hid-his face -from-view in order that the descendants of Israel would not see-it when-its dazzling-brightness -was-weakening.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “This is not like Moises who veiled his face so that the Israelita would not see the now disappearing dazzlingness of his face.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “I do not do like Moses did, in that he covered his face, not wanting the Jews to see that his face shone. Because he did not want the people to see the shining disappear from his face.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

inclusive vs. exclusive pronoun (2Cor. 3:13)

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 inclusive form (including the reader of the letter).

The Tok Pisin translators have selected the exclusive form.

Source: SIL International Translation Department (1999)


The name that is transliterated as “Moses” in English is signed in Spanish Sign Language in accordance with the depiction of Moses in the famous statue by Michelangelo (see here). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff.)

“Moses” in Spanish Sign Language (source)

Another depiction in Spanish Sign Language (source: Carlos Moreno Sastre):

The horns that are visible in Michelangelo’s statue are based on a passage in the Latin Vulgate translation (and many Catholic Bible translations that were translated through the 1950ies with that version as the source text). Jerome, the translator, had worked from a Hebrew text without the niqquds, the diacritical marks that signify the vowels in Hebrew and had interpreted the term קרו (k-r-n) in Exodus 34:29 as קֶ֫רֶן — keren “horned,” rather than קָרַו — karan “radiance” (describing the radiance of Moses’ head as he descends from Mount Sinai).

Even at the time of his translation, Jerome likely was not the only one making that decision as this recent article alludes to.